Normally, the basic rules of the road are enough to keep traffic in order, but sometimes sheer volume means that things get a little messy. Other times, anarchy rules the day. Here are seven of the world’s wackiest interchanges and intersections, all from the comfort and safety of your screen, where there’s no risk of a fender bender.
1. Arc de Triomphe, Paris
Don’t spend too much time gawking at the Arc de Triomphe in downtown Paris if you’re navigating the giant roundabout around the monument via vehicle. With about a dozen avenues—some major thoroughfares, mind you—all leading into the ginormous roundabout, there’s a dizzying mix of seemingly never-ending motion around the famous landmark.
2. Taganskaya Square, Moscow
Traveling through Moscow’s Taganskaya Square means cruising through two strange and messy intersections where the upper and lower parts of the square meet in a tangle. Not only do you have nearly a dozen roads coming in or out of the square, but the size of the side-by-side squares allows for gobs of traffic, making this effort not for the faint of heart. Or for those unsure of exactly which way they want to go.
3. Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo
Shibuya crossing in Tokyo may just look like a normal downtown Tokyo intersection, but with roads splicing into it from all directions, the crossing etiquette here is a little unusual. Each vehicle lane takes its turn crossing Shibuya, after which all traffic stops and the pedestrians get their turn, everyone crossing in one mass at what is busiest intersection in the country, if not the world.
4. Meskel Square, Ethiopia
The planners behind Ethiopia’s Meskel Square in Addis Abada seemingly decided that normal lanes and lights were not going to work, so don’t expect to find any at this major crossing. Not a roundabout and not governed by anything, really, cars simply move on in and try to get where they need to go, hopefully making it to the other side.
5. High Five Interchange, Dallas
The ever-growing metropolis of Dallas couldn’t build its freeways any wider, so where Interstate 635 connects with U.S. 75 Dallas the answer was to go up. Opened in 2005, the High Five Interchange rises as tall as a 12-story building with its five-level stack interchange that includes 43 bridges. Don’t take a wrong turn here.
6. The Magic Roundabout, Swindon, England
With five points of entry—including the original Drove Road—the Magic Roundabout, as it is known to the locals, is a fixture of Swindon, England. With five mini-roundabouts encircling a central roundabout, traffic on the mini versions move clockwise, allowing for counterclockwise movement of traffic on the larger, internal portion. Yeah, it’s weird.
On a short meander down Winston Churchill Avenue in Gibraltar—and on the 2.6 square mile island, every distance is short—you may run across the airport. After all, its runway intersects with the street. While the airport only has a handful of flights daily, the peninsula’s lone runway needed to take up a small bit of the main roadway and that prompted railroad-style crossing arms to keep traffic at bay. Please do heed the warnings.