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Old February 26th, 2007, 04:40 AM   #41
Alex Von Königsberg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FM 2258 View Post
I don't think we need so much information on the sign.
Very odd argument. Generally, people want to know at least the major cities along the way. On my previous photo, the sign provides just that—two large cities (München and Nürnberg) and the fact that they can be reached via Autobahn 9. Blue colour and the arrow shape is for early identification.

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Just knowing the highway number is enough because in the U.S. the highway is almost like a destination itself. Here the driver already knows where F.M. 791 and F.M. 3006 take you.
What if the driver is not familiar with the area? The main reason why the guide signs are used is for the visitor's convenience. Local people would hardly need any directions at all because they already know how to get around.

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If I went any other country I'd probably be overloaded with highway information. Just give me the highway number and I'll be set.
Would you be overloaded with this sign?



Or this one?



I think it is better to provide also the major destination points along the route instead of only indicating Autobahn 1, Autobahn 2, and Bundestraße 264. I think most people would agree with me.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 05:06 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by ADCS View Post
Americans and Europeans think about road signage in fundamentally different ways, I think. Destination markers on signs are more for confirmation of the right direction rather than pointing where one should go in the US.
Very good observation. What I lack sometimes in the centre of a big American city is the direction to other cities. In a large European city it is not uncommon to find signs like this:



In American cities, they put signs directing to the motorway only if the motorway is really close to the particular street you are on. You get 5 blocks away from the motorway, and you can consider yourself lost
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Old February 26th, 2007, 05:06 AM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Von Königsberg View Post
Very odd argument. Generally, people want to know at least the major cities along the way. On my previous photo, the sign provides just that—two large cities (München and Nürnberg) and the fact that they can be reached via Autobahn 9. Blue colour and the arrow shape is for early identification.
Well, Americans have been brought up to think about looking for the route before going out, so that's not really an issue.

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What if the driver is not familiar with the area? The main reason why the guide signs are used is for the visitor's convenience. Local people would hardly need any directions at all because they already know how to get around.
I think you are misunderstanding what he said here. Those two highways go pretty much nowhere worthwhile (they are in a very sparsely populated area). If someone needed to go to a ranch out there, the highway would be the destination, pretty much. They would be in no real "proper" town.

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I think it is better to provide also the major destination points along the route instead of only indicating Autobahn 1, Autobahn 2, and Bundestraße 264. I think most people would agree with me.
Well, one thing that has to be remembered is how much more densely populated Europe is compared to the United States/Canada/Mexico. Hundreds of kilometers separate most major cities, and many freeways span thousands of km. If I'm in San Francisco, I know I can get to New York by simply getting on I-80 and not getting off. Ought there be a sign for a destination 4600 km away? How about later on down I-80, where 1500 km separate the two nearest 1 million + metropolitan areas between Salt Lake City and Omaha (with only 200,000 Lincoln, NE in between)? If I'm in Los Angeles, and going to Florida, would it be easier to say "Go to Phoenix, then El Paso, then San Antonio, then Houston, then Lafayette, then Baton Rouge, then New Orleans, then Mobile, then Pensacola" or "Get on I-10 and go east. Stop somewhere along the way." I think these are certainly reasons why such signage might not work as well in the US as in Europe.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 02:02 PM   #44
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^ No, the Interstates are ok, you have the point here, but what about other roads, not so long, perhaps not freeways etc.? Yesterday I went to a village NEAR my hometown; after the last freeway exit, I took the old highway (a 2-lane road), which was the most important before putting the freeway in traffic. I have no idea what it's numbered.

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Originally Posted by ADCS View Post
There often isn't a choice between taking a freeway or taking a two-lane road here (a large part of that being because the Interstate Highway System is mostly free roads); if told to go one way, that usually is the only/fastest route. Not only that, if there are parallel routes, the faster route is usually marked with the major city, while the slower, more "scenic" route is marked with the smaller towns on the way.
Oh, I see. How distant are usually these 'smaller towns'?

Last edited by Verso; February 26th, 2007 at 02:09 PM.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 02:21 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Naga_Solidus View Post
THey have signs that say "Freeway Entrance" on all on-ramps in the USA, so you'd definetly know you're on a freeway.
The USA's different levels of road designation are quite confusing to foreigners, actually. On some roads that are further away from the cities, they may be designated as state routes, or even interstates, without clear allusion that it is actually a state route, until you've traveled for a few miles, then there's usually the numbered sign, which is a giveaway that you're on a main road of some sort.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 02:29 PM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Verso View Post
^ No, the Interstates are ok, you have the point here, but what about other roads, not so long, perhaps not freeways etc.? Yesterday I went to a village NEAR my hometown; after the last freeway exit, I took the old highway (a 2-lane road), which was the most important before putting the freeway in traffic. I have no idea what it's numbered.

Oh, I see. How distant are usually these 'smaller towns'?
It depends widely on which part of the country you're in doesn't it? Anyways, the sign system works fair in some cases in the US. Some roads may not lead to major cities of any sort, so they would not have cities marked on them, while others may have smaller towns listed on them if it is the way to go. Usually, the major city destination are marked on signs at junctions (at least in California).

My complaint about the roads in the US is a lack of standardization, which can be bad. Perfect example: on the way to San Francisco on SR 35 in California, there is a fork that leads you to Highway 1. That fork, although designated Highway 1, is labeled "The Great Highway" when you get there, and lacks any indication that its actually highway 1. This happens at other places too, where roads might be given their proper names without the numerical designation, which can be VERY misleading for visitors who are unfamiliar with the name of the route.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 09:50 PM   #47
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Very interesting topic....I think the United States has a fairly complicated system of numbering.

In MOST cases (statistically speaking), you will know you're getting on a freeway because you see the Interstate Shield near the road you're getting on, and the road will always be "I" something. I-80, I-35, etc. Anything with an "I" in front of it is a high speed interstate:





There are many other areas where states built their own freeways, and you just have to know you're getting on one instead of a regular highway. They normally have some sort of signage though, like in California:



Once you're on an interstate/freeway, the signs will almost always tell you what the nearest large city is in the direction you're traveling:



I think it's a little more difficult in the USA compared to Europe though with having directions through city names instead of numbers. In Germany you might have an autobahn going from Berlin to Munich, and it can be signed that "Berlin" with an arrow, or "Munich" etc.

Here though, you can leave Salt Lake City and go to New York City on one road (I-80), but it is more difficult to have a sign in Salt Lake City that says "New York City This Way" - because to get there you are driving 3,532 KM through dozens of other cities. They usually just post the closest city (since more people would be going that shorter distance than actually driving thousands of KM to some other city ), and after that - you just have to know the Interstate number. Some interstates are over 4,800 KM long. Hence you need to know the number and find it on a map to know where you are in the country. They're just too big and there's too many of them for everyone to just "know".

They tried to help it out by having even numbers going east west, and odd numbers going north south. Two digit numbers are for long distance and connection between cities, and three digit numbers are for urban areas and beltways. The north south interstates start at 0 on the west coast, and go to 99 on the east coast. East west interstates start at 0 on the Mexican border and 99 on the Canadian border. There are currently 75,375KM of signed official interstates in the United States.

There are also hundreds of other Federal and State highways in the United States. Most of these are numbered as well, and can be completely random compared to the structure of the US Interstate System. Most people on highways are local people though, as everyone else would opt for the Interstate Highway System because it is much faster and there is no stopping.

There are currently 183,230 KM of Federal Highways in the US (that aren't Interstates), which are maintained by the state (actually, all interstates, federal highways and state highways are maintained by the state they're in )

Then there are the State Highways - hundreds of thousands of KM of highways built and run by the states. Most of these are two or 4 lane non-divided highways between towns and cities, connecting rural areas to main transportation points.

Here's a map of Iowa's Highways (I just picked it cause I'm from there, and it's a random, smaller state that gives a general idea of how it's all laid out)




This is what most state highways look like in the United States that aren't in urban areas:


Another:
http://www.iowadotmaps.com/msp/pdf/us10003cu.pdf

Most states (especially in the midwest) have highways that run for hundreds of KM's through a state, and many are on a grid system. This was partially because land for farms was plotted out in square/rectangles. There was the least amount of distruption to have highways running on large grids through rural areas. To get from point A to point B, you might have to take multiple highways east/north/south/west to get to your destination. This is why knowing highway numbers in rural areas is almost essencial. You have to know to take Highway 5 to Highway 70 and then go left, blah blah.

There are many signs of towns along the way, but in the United States you almost ALWAYS have to plot out a journey on a map unless you know where you're going. It sounds like this isn't the case as much in Europe with the signs that tell you which city you're heading towards, but here, you have to have a map with you and watch for the highway signs or you'll miss a turn.

Last edited by Chicagoago; February 26th, 2007 at 10:09 PM.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 10:00 PM   #48
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Interesting note: I found there are 4,828,041 KM of rural roads in the United States, and 1,578,769 Km of Urban roads....that's a lot of asphalt!!
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Old February 26th, 2007, 11:52 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Verso View Post
Oh, I see. How distant are usually these 'smaller towns'?
Usually, if the major cities are say, 300-450 km apart, there are smaller towns 40-60 km apart along the way.
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Old February 27th, 2007, 12:23 AM   #50
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I'm a canadian, who is used to having control cities and cardinal points on a sign.

Usually I use cardinal directions, street names, and if applicable, the route number.

For example, you want to know how to get to Downtown Toronto, Ontario from here? I'll say take Highway 401 EAST, exit off at Highway 403 EAST, merge onto QEW TORONTO (only the case because the QEW is horseshoe shaped due to having to go around Lake Ontario), and you are there.

I might refer to a few small cities/towns that you'll drive through just as an added aid, but I work best with route numbers and the direction.

Plus, reading a map helps too :P. If you can see what way south goes, and you need to take a route that heads more south than north, take it!
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Old February 27th, 2007, 12:24 AM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADCS View Post
Usually, if the major cities are say, 300-450 km apart, there are smaller towns 40-60 km apart along the way.
Ah, then it's ok, I thought you meant some really small towns or villages 5 km away, hehe.
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Old February 27th, 2007, 04:03 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by go_leafs_go02 View Post
For example, you want to know how to get to Downtown Toronto, Ontario from here? I'll say take Highway 401 EAST, exit off at Highway 403 EAST, merge onto QEW TORONTO (only the case because the QEW is horseshoe shaped due to having to go around Lake Ontario), and you are there.
Interesting; that's the opposite to the European logic. It's probably due to the fact that Europe is composed of many smaller countries, so even highways are built more "nationalistic", I mean for example, the highway between Vienna and Munich I'm sure would be more "direct/straight", if it was in the US, but here you have to turn quite much to the south because of Salzburg; I could probably give a better example though. Or what pisses me off, is the fact that there's still a few kilometers of freeway missing between Munich and Paris (and there are even no plans for it AFAIK). There could be a much more straight route between Karlsruhe and Paris (the same route; you have to go almost to Strasbourg). We do have these European E-roads, but they are pretty useless, they don't reflect any real road corridors. For example, what's the purpose of the E70, going from Varna (Bulgaria) to La Coruña (Spain)? If it ran from Istanbul to Lisbon, ok, but Varna-La Coruña doesn't make sense to me. Let alone E40 between France and China...

Last edited by Verso; February 28th, 2007 at 12:39 AM.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 08:18 AM   #53
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Personally, I would prefer a compromise between the European and American systems of numbering the routes and guiding to the major destinations. After driving on rural highways in Russia, I really got to enjoy the American system with all its flaws and imperfections. In Russia, they don't like to put a lot of signs telling you how to get to certain locations, and since there are no route numbers at all, you have to rely on guide signs. If you miss your turn, you can literally drive as far as 40 km in a wrong direction before realising it. In Europe it is implemented much better, but there is still a chance of a mistake. In America, you will be fine as long as you stay on the right route, but if you accidentally get off the state route, it might be hard to get back on the right path. These are just my observation from the inter-continental experience.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 11:43 AM   #54
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^ I agree, road numbers can be very useful when you get lost.
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Old March 19th, 2007, 06:42 AM   #55
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Recently, I took some photos of US-50 on which I drive to my university everyday. Here is how the freeway entrances are marked in California:



All freeway entrences are marked like that regardless if it is an interstate, US route or a local highway. In my opinion, a single motorway sign along with the route number would be just fine, but the USDOT for some reason thinks that Americans have a bad pictorial memory.
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Old March 19th, 2007, 02:46 PM   #56
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Australia does not use the sign, but we follow the same system as the US where there is the End/Start Freeway/Motorway/Expressway signs, with Freeway/Motorway entrance.
Oh yes, but I always thought we did use the sign since it was in my Learner's Driving Book (which had all the Australian signs), and the motorway sign was also one of my Learner's Exam questions also. My friend also knows that sign, but I also do remember seeing the "End/Start" signs, so I guess you're right there.
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Old March 21st, 2007, 03:49 AM   #57
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Quote:
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I'm wondering which countries don't use the motorway sign. Of course I'm talking about one of these two signs:

I know that the United States don't use it, neither does Canada, I believe, plus Australia, if I'm right. Any other countries, which don't use the motorway sign on their motorways?
Mexico.
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Old April 30th, 2010, 07:00 PM   #58
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The motorway symbol

How old is the motorway symbol? And what country was the first to use it?

It's almost the same everywhere in Europe. We can see some differences. In Germany, the UK, and France it's blue. In Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia and Croatia it's green. In Germany they have most of the times quite small signs at the motorways. In Italy they are very big. But it's the same symbol, and we understand it every time we see it.

But it should be interesting to know which country was the first to use it and when they started. And it should be interesting to know what person it was who designed it for the first time.

When I see old pictures from Germany from 1930s and 1940s I don't see any motorway symbol. And that's the same when I see pictures from Italy from the same time. So I think this symbol didn't exist in that time. So I think this symbol is from about 1950-1960.

But maybe someone here knows the history about this symbol?

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Old April 30th, 2010, 08:01 PM   #59
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We do not use in Brazil, because it is not necessary, because when all rows are white means duplicated motorway

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Old April 30th, 2010, 10:18 PM   #60
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It's not used in the US at all. In Quebec, something like it shows up in the route marker for Autoroutes:

http://www.routemarkers.com/canada/Quebec/Autoroute.gif
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