|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||1.8 miles (2.9 km)|
|Meets:||A23, A214, A217|
|Route outline (key)|
Given that the A216 and A217 effectively merge on the way in to Mitcham, you have to wonder why, when these roads were first numbered, the A216 didn't take precedence, and have the A217 terminate instead. It would certainly be the more usual thing to do in road numbering, and would have seen the A216 form a long alternative to the A23, reaching almost to Crawley.
For whatever reason, that didn't happen, and the A216 is just a short suburban link in South London.
The A216 begins in Streatham, branching off the A23 in the midst of the notorious Streatham One-Way System. The circulatory part of this intimidating junction swirls around the outside here, while the A216 begins by splitting away from Streatham High Road outside St Leonard's Church.
A set of traffic lights see Ambleside Avenue, carrying the westbound A214, cross our path, and then we are away over the Brighton main line railway.
The next two sets of lights are at either end of what appears to be another High Street, though actually this area styles itself part of Streatham too, despite being well off the main High Road and located in another borough (Wandsworth rather than Lambeth). The signals here allow two unclassified roads to cross, each one-way, and forming part of a two-way through route that links the A214 at Tooting Bec with the B272 at Streatham Common down the west side of the railway.
From here the road opens out, though progress is restricted by speed bumps and other traffic calming, and we begin a long, steady descent. The bottom of the hill is just after the mini-roundabout at Southcroft Road, where we cross the River Graveney, though it's not a very big waterway here, and if you didn't know that the bridge existed it would be hard to spot without stopping and exploring on foot.
The railway line from Streatham to Wimbledon crosses over on a low bridge here, and there's an exciting dip where the road has been excavated to create extra headroom. We're in the borough of Merton now - the third borough this short road visits - and Wandsworth's traffic calming is but a memory. Initially the road remains similar in character, with streets of Victorian houses running away to each side, but after a short while industrial units begin to appear on the left, and a corner brings us within sight of Figge's Marsh, a tree-lined common that is much nicer than its name suggests.
We are on the final straight now, running with the open space to our right, and the road terminates at an unnecessarily complex five-way junction that is laid out like a roundabout, and signalised as well, and yet never really seems to have any of the advantages of either of those junction types. The queues on the A216, even at quieter times of the day, will often start before traffic has reached Figge's Marsh. But look on the bright side - nobody spends long on the A216, so at least the traffic jam has bought you a few more minutes of its time before you reach the A217.