|Leicester Outer Ring Road|
|Via:||Western part of Ring Road|
|Distance:||14.7 miles (23.7 km)|
|Meets:||A47, A6030, A607, A6, A5630, A50, A47, A5460, A426, A5199, A6|
|Route outline (key)|
The A563 makes up most of a circle around Leicester, being as it is the outer ring road. It stretches from a blatantly unfinished junction on the A47 near Goodwood all the way around the north, west and south sides of the city to finish on the A6 as it heads out to Oadby. A recent transport survey by the council proposed that they actually get around to joining the two ends up to make a complete circle, but as the area between is fairly built-up, the chances of this happening are anybody's guess.
Even if it is ever finished, the road as it stands is running alarmingly over its capacity. It is mostly 30 mph single carriageway with pedestrian crossings, at-grade junctions and an enormous amount of traffic. Newer sections around Fosse Park and the M1 junction 21 are dualled but still woefully designed.
Leicester Outer Ring Road
We start off heading north from the A47 Uppingham Road at a signalised crossroads that was obviously designed for the A563 to continue southwards. Currently that position is occupied by a local road, albeit one of a fairly decent standard compared to other roads in the area. The A50 coming out of town springs to mind. At this stage we are an urban dual carriageway with lots of at-grade junctions and a pretty low speed limit. This gets worse, however, as the road narrows to single carriageway rather soon and we pass Humberstone with a flurry of roundabouts and turnings.
After passing a Tesco on our right, we skirt the Humberstone golf course to our left and meet the A6030 at one of the many roundabouts. The A6030, by the way, is the current official eastern side of the ring road, but it's really rather rubbish at it so I shan't mention it again. Well, not until the end anyway. We then become a dual carriageway again to pass Rushey Mead, a place about which I know nothing apart from that one of my local bus routes goes there. This only lasts a short while, until we meet the A607, part of the Fosse Way, and the route of the original A46 when it went through the city centre. These days it takes the snazzy new bypass instead.
Back to a single carriageway, we cross the river Soar and, in a truly startling fit of foresight, we have a flyover for the A6 junction. From this point onwards down to the A47 roundabout, however, the road is still single-carriageway, still full of nasty at-grade junctions, still with a nasty slow speed limit and still littered with pelican crossings and strange local roads running alongside in a collector-distributor type of way. This is pretty much typical for this road. Along the way we have roundabouts with the the A5630, an imaginatively-numbered link to the new A46 bypass, and the A50 (leave here for the M1 North).
The A47 is crossed at a rather nondescript roundabout, which is fitting as by this point the A47 is quite nondescript too. It doesn't get to meet the M1, and traffic for Hinckley is probably faster using the M69, so it's mainly local traffic leaving here.
South of here, the road carves its way through residential suburbs towards Braunstone, where it becomes dual carriageway. The original plan was for the road to turn south-eastwards here and run along the current alignment of the Kingsway, a local road, across to Aylestone where it would resume its present alignment near or at the junction with the A426. However, with the development of the area around the M1 junction 21, including Fosse Park and the Meridian business park, the road was re-routed to serve these areas and link with the A5460 (again previously the A46) and the B4114 (ditto) and built to a higher standard with some grade-separated junctions and a higher (50 mph!) speed limit. The maze of roundabouts and gantry signs around Fosse Park make it rather confusing to navigate, particularly as the signposts very rarely tally with the road markings on the ground.
Leaving Fosse Park behind, we speed up the Soar Valley Way, crossing the Grand Union Canal (beware of fog here) and up the hill to... another huge set of traffic lights, where everything grinds to a halt for the A426 to cross us. As the main road out to the suburbs of Glen Parva and Eyres Monsell, as well as the nearby town of Blaby, this road is also extremely busy and this junction is frequently the cause of queues on all the approach roads.
The other major queue generator here is the fact that we shortly lose our dual carriageways and revert to one 30mph two-lane travesty. With a couple of side turnings (beware of local drivers and their inventive use of hatched roadspace) we crawl up to the Pork Pie Roundabout, named after the library alongside it. Drivers beware: the road surface here is slippery and the roundabout is small and at a weird angle! As another busy arterial road crossing, this junction too is frequently jammed. Between the two junctions is also a rather erratic pelican crossing which sometimes gets stuck on an automatic sequence of red lights, even at 3am.
From the roundabout onwards, we descend through what is almost a tunnel of trees, between another two local roads and the plethora of pelican crossings and chicane-like traffic islands that help make this part of the route feel the most claustrophobic. If you're really lucky, a 26 bus might join in the fun too.
After another pointless roundabout, we're still in 30mph territory despite a perfectly nice wide road with no junctions or crossings. The extra-wide grass verge on the right suggest that this area was prepared ready for possible dualling, but for some reason that has never been done. Instead, we get yet another pelican crossing followed by a local junction for local people. If you turn left here then you cut the corner heading into town to get on the A5199 Welford Road, which we meet at the next set of traffic lights. Between the two junctions, we also get a brief stretch of dual carriageway, although not quite enough to do much useful with.
Finally, after the enormous set of lights that the A5199 (ex A50, but a pretty nasty road if you're planning to go to Northampton on it) crosses us on, we go back to single carriageway but finally get an increase in the speed limit to 40 mph. The reason for this is beyond me, as the road is of no better or worse standard than previous sections. Ironically, the local drivers who have been doing 40 mph up to here will now slow down to 30. We have a few more local turnings and pedestrian crossings before descending to the roundabout at Oadby racecourse where we meet the A6. By this stage, most of the city centre-bound traffic has left us, so the majority turn right to head out to Oadby and the A6 towards Market Harborough. Turning left, one may continue for a mile or two before turning off for the A6030, which as I mentioned earlier is the current excuse for an eastern section of the ring road. But that's beyond the scope of this drive-through!
Original Author(s): Moogal