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Old April 12th, 2014, 02:40 AM   #421
sotonsi
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Originally Posted by flierfy View Post
To navigate by numbers you have to know at least as much information than navigating by control destinations. The first requires road specific information which is useless beyond roads. General geographic knowledge, however, is useful for lots of purposes including travelling by other modes of transport.
You're going to Oxford and you know it is west of London. When you get to Heathrow, do you follow signs for Cardiff or Birmingham (assuming your ideal M4 and M40 destinations signed on the M25)? And how do you know that Cardiff is signed, rather than the bigger and much more relevant Reading, or the more distant, but still big Swansea?

Really, to get the right route, you need to either really know your geography of Britain, or know to take the M40...
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Originally Posted by flierfy View Post
The UK doesn't use cardinal directions in its real sense. British signs rather point to regions which are named by their relative location within Britain.
Yes, there's regional destinations but they aren't everything. However, there are many roads, especially in Scotland, where they are used as cardinal directions rather than directing you to a region.

Why does the Motorway font have (W), (E), (N), (S), (NW), (NE), (SE) and (SW) characters if not to symbolise direction on a road? like this or this.

Plus there's stuff like these pavement markings all over the place, using number and compass point, rather than an abbreviated destination.
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Old April 12th, 2014, 12:04 PM   #422
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Originally Posted by sotonsi View Post
You're going to Oxford and you know it is west of London. When you get to Heathrow, do you follow signs for Cardiff or Birmingham (assuming your ideal M4 and M40 destinations signed on the M25)? And how do you know that Cardiff is signed, rather than the bigger and much more relevant Reading, or the more distant, but still big Swansea?
It doesn't matter which one is signposted as I know that all of them are close to this motorway. One can expect that at all junctions along this motorway more than one destination appears on the signs anyway.

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Originally Posted by sotonsi View Post
Really, to get the right route, you need to either really know your geography of Britain, or know to take the M40.
No, all I need to know is where the roads are running. Once I do know that there is a London to Birmingham motorway with a convenient spur to Oxford then I follow Birmingham until Oxford itself appears on the signs which would be the case at junctions of said motorway.

But even if you have taken the motorway to Bristol you will still be guided to Oxford. At the junction with the Southampton to Birmingham trunk route Oxford will be mentioned as one of the turning destination. From there on you can follow it.

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Originally Posted by sotonsi View Post
Why does the Motorway font have (W), (E), (N), (S), (NW), (NE), (SE) and (SW) characters if not to symbolise direction on a road? like this or this.
These are indeed cardinal directions. However, they are pretty redundant information and they only appear occasionally. That's why I must have forgotten about them.
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Old April 12th, 2014, 01:31 PM   #423
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It doesn't matter which one is signposted as I know that all of them are close to this motorway.
Your system fails as it requires you to know where at least 20 places are and what motorway serves them. Way too much information needed for the casual user, who is just wanting to know which road to turn onto from the M25...
Quote:
One can expect that at all junctions along this motorway more than one destination appears on the signs anyway.
True, but lets assume it is close-by Slough, middle-distance Reading and a far-off one: either Bristol (which I forgot), Cardiff or Swansea. Which one is signed on the M25 to say that you are heading to the M4 (M25 uses road numbers, regional destinations, cardinal directions and London's Airports to say which way you want). And how would that help people going to Oxford at Maidstone when they have to decide (currently have 'The WEST (M25 (W))')? You'd not have room for a 4th far-off destination (Brighton, Southampton, Bri/Car/Swa) with Birmingham as well (and surely at that point Birmingham traffic would be sent via the slightly-shorter and less-busy M1-M6 route)?

Under your system, instead of M20-M25 west-M40-A40 - 4 bits of information, they'd need London-Bristol/Cardiff/Swansea-Birmingham-Oxford - 6 bits of information, 2 of which will be irrelevant.
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No, all I need to know is where the roads are running. Once I do know that there is a London to Birmingham motorway with a convenient spur to Oxford then I follow Birmingham until Oxford itself appears on the signs which would be the case at junctions of said motorway.
Seems way more complex than simply knowing that the M40 goes to Oxford, which you can pull off a map before you start, rather than memorising the whole map, as you seem to be doing.

Now sure, those of us who talk on the internet about roads will find memorising a map easy. 99% of people won't!
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But even if you have taken the motorway to Bristol you will still be guided to Oxford. At the junction with the Southampton to Birmingham trunk route Oxford will be mentioned as one of the turning destination. From there on you can follow it.
A long way around!
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However, they are pretty redundant information
Only redundant for you, due to the odd way you navigate. I find the symbols showing whether the junction is an 'exit' or 'interchange' redundant, but I know that you use it as useful shorthand. The cardinal directions on signs are useful shorthand that means that you don't have to read the rest of the sign.
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Old April 12th, 2014, 05:07 PM   #424
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The US's main interstates are E95, E80, etc. No reason why E06 is more major than E45 and no reason why single/double digits need be more important than triple/quad digits.
The trailing zero in E-numbers below 10 was specifically introduced to remove any suggestion of greater importance. But of course, many of the countries involved failed to implement that part. The Scandinavian countries, which managed to retain 'their' pre-1975 numbers E4 and E6 on the basis of, amongst others, arguments around the costs of replacing existing signs, would of course be the first to refuse to pick up this part of the system. The way the Swedes later managed to promote some of their backwater roads to E45 as a tourism tool was not helpful either in promoting the E-numbers as a halfway sensible system.

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But then I come from a country where numbers are the main way of navigating, but the A/M20 is the more important route than the parallel A/M2 and the A30 is less important than the A303 that bypasses it, the A1079 can be an inter-city primary route, and the A32 a back road. So what do I know about what importance numbers carry?
You would say that Britain was not helped by the country's 1920s numbers remaining completely intact when a motorway network was created on a completely different basis, often away from the historic corridors. This at least rendered quite a few routes with low numbers as backwater roads thanks to the proximity of a motorway and left routes with historically little more than a spur function as crucial connectors between motorways and large towns or important regions. Ideally, given the big role of road numbers in Britain, there would have been a renumbering at one stage to reflect new reality. But supposedly any renumbering would have been too controversial as people don't want to give up their familiar road numbers.
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Old April 12th, 2014, 05:36 PM   #425
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Cardinal directions are indeed not practical in Europe.
Why not? People always present the use of cardinal directions as a consequence of the US having a perfect grid. While the basic road network of many US states is indeed a perfect grid, its motorways more often than not cut right across this grid. Like European motorways, they run along the corridors with the highest demands: CBD to big suburbs, big city to big city via sizeable suburbs and towns in between. Those corridors won't truly follow the compass either.

Maybe signposting cardinal directions has more of a following in the US thanks to the orientation of its basic roads. But I do not know of many European motorways (ring roads apart) that could not be characterised by primary cardinal directions, i.e. East and West or North and South depending on which side of the motorway you find yourself on. A few stretches of motorway run at more like 45 degrees, but local perception will then generally characterise it as North/South or East/West. Think of the French A6 between Paris and Beaune, which runs North-West to South-East but is perceived part of a North-South axis nonetheless. And a few routes would at some stage have to switch cardinal directions as they make bigger turns, e.g. the German A3 and the Spanish A-7. Accordingly, I would very much like to see cardinal directions on motorways in Europe.

Back to the topic of E-routes, however, many motorways would have cardinal directions inconsistent with those implied in their E-numbers. A15 in the Netherlands would surely be an East/West route, despite bearing the number E31.

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But you could ask questions about the necessity to sign minor roads with a route number, for example the thousands of departmental routes in France, or gazillions of route number varieties in Spain.
The truly minor routes serve one village only. If they are only a spur between a through route and one village, I agree that adding a number would not really make sense. But once a route starts to serve a bigger number of villages, I believe that it makes sense to number them and to signpost the number. The overall rationale that people unfamiliar in the area would need to guess the focal points signposted but can safely assume the route number provides even more of a justification for this type of minor routes than it does for the main throughfares.

Taking the English M40 as a starting point again, motorists with a reasonable geographic knowledge will be able to reconcile the towns signposted from the M25 with a general position on the map, even if they had no idea upfront which town would be signposted. But this applies much less so if you are on your way for the first time in your life to some small village in the countryside and you have to find your way between a motorway exit and your final destinations via minor routes. They might signpost the biggest village of the area, but chances are that you still never heard of it. Signposting the route number then optimises the chances that you quickly work out that you are on the right route. My bigger issue is therefore not that these minor routes have a number that is signposted, but in the way they are signposted. Spain with its tens of prefixes and multi-coloured shields is terrible in my opinion. I'd rather have the way numbers appear on British non-primary routes, just as another focal point.
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Old April 12th, 2014, 06:33 PM   #426
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Originally Posted by -Pino- View Post
This at least rendered quite a few routes with low numbers as backwater roads thanks to the proximity of a motorway and left routes with historically little more than a spur function as crucial connectors between motorways and large towns or important regions.
Yes, but that applies to none of my examples. The A1079 was always the main Hull-York route, the A32 always a relatively quiet back route (worthy of 3 digits, but not 2) and it's route isn't bypassed by a motorway.
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Ideally, given the big role of road numbers in Britain, there would have been a renumbering at one stage to reflect new reality.
They did that in 1935, but didn't change any of the issues I mentioned (the A32 was always a back route, the A1079 was created in 1924, the A303 was given its more important number to reflect it's through route status in 1934).

Also, when a motorway comes, there's usually a renumbering.

While in 1922 shortness of number=importance, we're perfectly happy to have a system that is happy with important 4-digit routes, and unimportant 2-digit routes.
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Old April 12th, 2014, 06:50 PM   #427
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While in 1922 shortness of number=importance, we're perfectly happy to have a system that is happy with important 4-digit routes, and unimportant 2-digit routes.
It's what you get when you're used to it. But complete strangers will be quicker to grasp the system -and thus recognise important roads in places where they are less familiar with the focal points - when route numbering follows a pattern that is easily recognisable. And whether that pattern is 'low numbers are more important', 'route numbers ending with 5s and 0s are more important' or something else, it also helps strangers unfamiliar with the numbers to easily recall the route numbers that they are most likely to come across (and need to remember) during their travels. Not the end of the world though if road numbering does not follow that pattern. Better a tricky numbering system well signposted than Flierfy-approach.
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Old April 12th, 2014, 09:15 PM   #428
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Cardinal directions are a wording information. In a multi-lingual world this is a clear disadvantage. While an E stands for East only in some countries in others it would be an O or a V or something else.
Quebec manages...

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Old April 12th, 2014, 09:19 PM   #429
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From an European POV, the US system of roadnumbers and some cardinal directions is totally worthless. You don't know at all which destination you are driving to, unless you know the complete route of a numbered road. I prefer the continental European system of signage. Navigating on cities, with the help of some road numbers. National roadnumbers are sufficient - no need for E-road numbering. However the signing of E-roads is compulsary due to the 1975 AGR-treaty.
Of course it's "totally worthless": It's American, right? :-P

Seriously, how does adding information (the directions) render the system less useful (let alone worthless)?
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Old April 12th, 2014, 09:21 PM   #430
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The UK doesn't use cardinal directions in its real sense. British signs rather point to regions which are named by their relative location within Britain.
No, there are places where you're given a choice between, say "M4 (West)" and "M4 (East)." Reinforced by destinations, of course.
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Old April 12th, 2014, 09:36 PM   #431
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Your system fails as it requires you to know where at least 20 places are and what motorway serves them. Way too much information needed for the casual user, who is just wanting to know which road to turn onto from the M25...
If you don't even know 20 places and its location in the world you can consider yourself a geographic illiterate.

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True, but lets assume it is close-by Slough, middle-distance Reading and a far-off one: either Bristol (which I forgot), Cardiff or Swansea. Which one is signed on the M25 to say that you are heading to the M4 (M25 uses road numbers, regional destinations, cardinal directions and London's Airports to say which way you want). And how would that help people going to Oxford at Maidstone when they have to decide (currently have 'The WEST (M25 (W))')? You'd not have room for a 4th far-off destination (Brighton, Southampton, Bri/Car/Swa) with Birmingham as well (and surely at that point Birmingham traffic would be sent via the slightly-shorter and less-busy M1-M6 route)?
Actually one signs up to 4 destinations per direction. One would probably be reserved for a destination within the M25. That leaves 3 spaces for Brighton, So'ton, Bristol and B'ham. One could omit Brighton in favour of B'ham. Yet, one would like to sign Leeds there as well. That leaves just two possible solutions. Either one breaches the rule and signposts 5 or 6 destinations or one aggregates several destinations to one and names The SOUTH, B'ham, Leeds on the board. Neither solution is pretty but in the rare case of a large ring road acceptable.

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Under your system, instead of M20-M25 west-M40-A40 - 4 bits of information, they'd need London-Bristol/Cardiff/Swansea-Birmingham-Oxford - 6 bits of information, 2 of which will be irrelevant.
Seems way more complex than simply knowing that the M40 goes to Oxford, which you can pull off a map before you start, rather than memorising the whole map, as you seem to be doing.
You missed out the M26. Which makes it 5 road numbers. Actually 6 as the A40 doesn't run through Oxford. Whereas you need to look out for only 3 different destinations (London, B'ham, Oxford) in this case.

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Now sure, those of us who talk on the internet about roads will find memorising a map easy. 99% of people won't!
You don't have to memorise a whole map. Some basic relations are sufficient. And that is what 99% of all people is capable of.

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A long way around!
Well, at least the system picks you up. If you're looking for the M40 at this point you will most likely take a much longer way if you end up in Oxford at all.

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Only redundant for you, due to the odd way you navigate. I find the symbols showing whether the junction is an 'exit' or 'interchange' redundant, but I know that you use it as useful shorthand. The cardinal directions on signs are useful shorthand that means that you don't have to read the rest of the sign.
A sign that tells me which way is Bournemouth and which is Portsmouth is therefore telling me which road heads west and which one east. But then again one has to know some geography...
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Old April 12th, 2014, 09:57 PM   #432
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And the less important a road becomes, the more likely it is that the focals won't tell a geographically literate person the general direction of that road. Which is where route numbers and cardinal direction become an added value.

On major roads, they arguably serve much more as reassurance or confirmation of information that one might already have derived from the focal points (but surely you'll need to know more than 20 major towns of the big European countries to navigate the core network). But an ever increasing number of European motorists operates the other way around: in areas where they are less familiar, they look at the route numbers and then check the focal points for reassurance. Why? I guess because they prefer memorising six pre-identifiable road numbers over having to guess all the time which focal points they would need to look for next. Or having to memorise a map and a road network when driving 120 km/h on a full motorway with little time left before a junction.

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Quebec manages...
And so does South Africa, where parts of the country are signposted in English and Afrikaans. They just use the first letter of the cardinal direction there, and that first letter is the same in both tongues for three out of four directions. Only for East is there a word starting with a different letter, hence the use of E/O.

In other words, there is always something of a polyglot solution. The entire argument about language barrier becomes a bit odd anyway when one considers which key terms in other languages motorists in Europe are supposed to understand when travelling through Europe. All the cardinal directions, words for city centre, toll road, motorway, Ausfahrt, border crossing etc. Flierfy's argument about language is completely nonsensical and supposedly nothing more than 'They do not do have this in my home country so I do not like it.'
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Old April 12th, 2014, 10:20 PM   #433
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And so does South Africa, where parts of the country are signposted in English and Afrikaans. They just use the first letter of the cardinal direction there, and that first letter is the same in both tongues for three out of four directions. Only for East is there a word starting with a different letter, hence the use of E/O.

In other words, there is always something of a polyglot solution. The entire argument about language barrier becomes a bit odd anyway when one considers which key terms in other languages motorists in Europe are supposed to understand when travelling through Europe. All the cardinal directions, words for city centre, toll road, motorway, Ausfahrt, border crossing etc. Flierfy's argument about language is completely nonsensical and supposedly nothing more than 'They do not do have this in my home country so I do not like it.'
Bollocks. You fail to provide a practical solution to sign cardinal direction. So don't tell me my argument were 'nonsensical'. You better start making sense yourself before you throw big words around you, ****.
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Old April 12th, 2014, 10:36 PM   #434
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Easy solution: just post cardinal direction in local language. Nothing spectacular on a continent where the speakers of so many languages know how to respond to Kreuz München-Nord-West and to exit Brescia Ovest. And if you believe that I failed to explain why posting cardinal directions is useful, read again.
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Old April 12th, 2014, 11:02 PM   #435
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American giving directions:

"I would consider I-70 east to I-465 north to I-69 to SR 37 to SR 213 to SR 26 west (or SR 22) to US 31."

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Old April 12th, 2014, 11:08 PM   #436
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Are you sure? The motorway Kemi-Tornio was opened in 2001, and the E8 was extended from Tornio to Turku in 2002, if I recall. Thus, the motorway was initially 29/E4 although it is now 29/E8.
You're right, sorry. I was only thinking about E4 going to Helsinki (as that was what I answered to), that ended in the early 1990'es.
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Old April 12th, 2014, 11:16 PM   #437
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American giving directions:

"I would consider I-70 east to I-465 north to I-69 to SR 37 to SR 213 to SR 26 west (or SR 22) to US 31."

Or Californian...

"Just take the 405 down to 101 then the 5"

The above Quebec picture is technically a special case, normally no English allowed...
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Old April 13th, 2014, 12:09 AM   #438
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Because it's on the Champlain Bridge (or its approaches) and therefore Federal. But I can't believe that signs that only read "Nord," "Sud," etc., are that incomprehensible to Americans. Or Ontarians. And - what people keep missing here - we're not posting ONLY route numbers and directions, but route numbers, directions and "control cities" (not enough of them to my taste and I hate the term "control city").

But it seems to me - back to the E19 example - that there would be occasions where it's useful to distinguish the E19 North from the E19 South, and as it is, Europeans have to say "the E19 towards Brussels" or "the E19 towards Antwerp" (terms which change their meaning once you pass the city in question, by the way), whereas "I-95 North" (or "Northbound") works for something like 1500 miles. Even in areas where it's really more northeast or even east (like Connecticut).

And the idea that such information is "totally worthless" is nothing more than another example of the hyperbole we've grown to know and love on this forum. :-)

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Old April 13th, 2014, 12:13 AM   #439
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Of course it's "totally worthless": It's American, right? :-P

Seriously, how does adding information (the directions) render the system less useful (let alone worthless)?
Because it clutters the sign. Europeans find their way without it perfectly well. There is no point in cramming even more information on our signs.
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Old April 13th, 2014, 12:16 AM   #440
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"Clutters the sign"? Use fewer destinations. Some of your signs are ridiculous. "I-80 West" takes up less space than "I-80 Stroudsburg, Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco..." And renders such a long list of destinations unnecessary. But no, we're the ones with the cluttered signs....
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