A visit to the U.S. South and South West in wintertime. Links to all pages:
Below are sections on Traffic Signs and Billboards.
The American road network is large. There are wide roads everywhere. Considering how scattered people live in rural areas, the road network is also in good condition. If you ignore the appearance of towns and villages, the road system is similar to that of Sweden.
Many country roads are three- or four-lane with a speed limit of 60-70 miles (100-115 km/h). In West Texas, I have experienced a 130 miles stretch (200 km) stretch of highway with a speed limit of 75 miles (120 km/h). There are remains of dead animals: dogs, cats, deer, etc.
One morning I drove the 20 miles (33 kilometers) along road 905 from Conway in South Carolina to Longs close to the North Carolina border. It is a nice, winding road through a wooded area with housing along the road. In some places, housing estates had been built. The road is the only way to get back and forth between Conway and where people live.
It took me approximately 40 minutes to drive this distance. On the way I saw two school buses, zero cyclists and zero pedestrians. All traffic was by car. There was a speed limit of 45 miles (73 km/h). The speed limit was OK, but no one was obeying it. When everyone is driving 50-60 miles per hour (80-90 km/h), no one wants to walk or cycle along a road with no sidewalk.
This is what I see as a lack of planning and management of new construction in the US. Everyone wants to live in the beautiful forest area. There are no public bus routes and the road has no space for cyclists, so everyone must drive by car. Since all the houses are close to the road, everyone will disturb each other when going to and from the city.
Many American roads run completely straight either east-west or north-south. The straight roads must be due to straight property divisions, straight state borders and maybe also the impression that a straight road is more efficient.
A gently curving road gives lower speed and a more confident assessment of distances.
A completely straight roads mean poor road safety in two ways:
Motorways: I agree with John Steinbeck about motorways: "These great roads are wonderful for moving goods but not for inspection of a countryside. .. When we get these thruways across the whole country, as we will and must, it will be possible to drive from New York to California without seeing a single thing."
The motorways run right through the big cities and at the same time act as local expressways, including the noisy long-distance trucks. There is no protection against the noise. In city traffic, the motorways often have 4-5 lanes in each direction.
In the big cities, the motorways have many entrances and exits — so many that some of them are located on the left side of the motorway. It's scary, because it can be very difficult to make four lane changes to the left lane before a certain exit. Exit lanes are marked with a yellow "Exit Only" sign.
American traffic signs require that you can read and read quickly, because there are many things that are written instead of being shown with a standard traffic sign such as "Bridge ahead", optionally supplemented with a frost symbol.
Lanes for turning left and right at intersections are marked with arrows on the asphalt, but are always reinforced with a sign saying "Left lane must turn left" etc. In the US, apparently it requires a text. It is not easy for the dyslexic or those who only know Spanish.
In the US, the road authorities are very happy with a full stop. Full stop is always combined with either normal or unconditional duty to give way - meaning that you will always have to read the text below the stop sign:
Billboards was described by John Kenneth Galbraith as "The family .. pass on into a countryside that has been rendered largely invisible by commercial art". Yes, it is difficult to see the advantages of billboards.
However, it is a way to learn what someone will pay for others to read, for example "There are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous people".
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