As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Australia’s Best New Car News, Reviews and Buying Advice

Record-Breaking Roads

Well, the 2013 Guinness Book of Records has recently turned up in the local library and it’s got a page dedicated to record-breaking roads, so here goes with a few of the quirky ones.

This blog has already touched on and provided a bit of footage of the most dangerous road in the world – the (dis)honour is still held by the North Yungas Road, which runs from La Paz, capital of Bolivia, to Coroico, claiming 300 deaths a year on a 69 km stretch. The road would have been fine back in the Inca empire, as a single-lane dirt road with two-way traffic and a vertical drop of over 4 km straight down and no barricade would have been fine if the only traffic on it was llamas and chasquis (Incan foot couriers – could get fish from the coast to the capital in the Andes within days so it was still fresh at the other end). I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that Google Maps doesn’t have this on street view – the survey vehicle isn’t mad enough to drive on it.

Most crooked road: Lombard Street in San Francisco, California, USA. In one 400-m stretch, this road manages to go through eight hairpin turns, meaning that it’s got 1440° of turn. It is said to be popular with skateboarders for this reason.

Steepest paved road: Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand. This road climbs at a rate of 1 m for every 2.86 m horizontally. It’s so steep that the usual tarmac treatment used on roads won’t work because the bitumen runs down before it sets, so it’s paved with concrete with specially designed grooves so cars don’t slip on it, especially as it gets frosty on a regular basis every winter. Beware if you ever want to ride a skateboard, scooter or bike down it, as there’s a fairly busy road intersecting with it at the bottom and stopping without the brakes.

Country with the most crowded roads: There are two ways of measuring this. If you mean the road network with the highest amount of kilometres driven by all road users put together (vehicle-kilometres travelled or vkt) per km of road network, the title goes to Hong Kong, where for every km of road, drivers cover over 5 million vkt. However, if you measure congestion by the number of vehicles in the country per km of road network, the title goes to Kuwait, with 271 vehicles for every km of road (however, it’s unlikely that every car in Kuwait is out on the road at once, so the country doesn’t sit there bumper to bumper all day chewing through its own oil reserves).

Longest one-way street: The M2 Southern Expressway in Adelaide gets the prize here. Readers in Adelaide will be familiar with how this stretch is open to northbound traffic into the city in the morning rush hour and swaps it around so they can all go home again in the afternoon. This makes it count as a one-way street, so at 21 km long, it can claim the title.

Longest continuous road: Another Australian title and one you might well have driven on yourself, at least partly. Highway One manages to get completely around the country without any breaks (traffic lights don’t count), covering 14,523 km from your starting point until you get back to the beginning again. This beats the Trans-Siberian Highway in Russia by 3500 km.

Most complicated roundabout: In Swindon in the UK, you can find the Magic Roundabout. This has five roundabouts that lead into a larger roundabout – and the larger roundabout is two-way, meaning that you can go around it anticlockwise or clockwise. This roundabout also has a number of non-Guinness records, including being in the top ten of the Scariest Junctions in the UK and the Worst UK Intersection according to an insurance company survey.

Most complicated other sort of junction: This one goes to the Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange in Los Angeles, California, USA. It’s one of those multi-level intersections where one road goes over another, but here there four levels, each with entry and exit lanes among them and a couple of high-occupancy lanes into the bargain. No wonder it’s named after someone in the legal profession.

Oldest road still in use: The Via Appia in Italy running between Rome and Brindisi has been in use since 312 BC. In places, you can still see and travel on the original Roman paving (which makes the durability of modern roads look pathetic – are they going to be able to last 2324 years?).

Highest mileage clocked up by a single car: Of course, if there are record breaking roads, there should be record-breaking cars to run on them. The car that has put the most miles on the clock is a 1966 P-1800S Volvo, and it’s managed to do 4,667,097 km (2.9 million miles).