Roddy Graham's blog: 25 October 2011 - The road traffic sign overhaul
25 October 2011
Roddy Graham gives his predictions for the coming year
I thought our proliferation of road signs was bad, that is until I visited America recently. Yes, I was lucky enough to spend two weeks' holiday taking a long-planned road trip down Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Diego, taking in Yosemite, Carmel, San Simeon, Santa Barbara and that misnomer, Los Angeles - certainly no City of Angels! Hence, my absence from blogging for a wee while!
From beautiful coastal roads to multi-lane freeways, from clean air to smog, the west coast of America has it all. One thing's for sure, the Americans never do things by halves.
While I was away, the biggest overhaul of road traffic signs for 40 years was announced. No doubt, it will send learner drivers into a spin trying to memorise these when they appear in the Highway Code test!
Some new signs are to be welcomed as they herald in a new 'greener' age. Leading the way are 'electric car recharging point' and 'no entry except cycles' signs. Hopefully the latter will be accompanied by more cycle lanes to encourage the take up of cycling, especially to work, and also to protect cyclists especially from heavy goods vehicles. Worryingly, there have been alarming reports of increases in cyclist deaths and injuries in the capital due to lorry drivers being unable to see cyclists in their mirrors.
One bête noir of mine is the proliferation of roadside furniture. I pity poor motorcyclists if they come off their bikes as many road councils have even taken to moving road signs to the very edge of the road, giving a motorcyclist no margin for error whatsoever if the unexpected happens.
Worst still the very number of different signs on the same pole, or one after the other, is enough to drive even the most proficient of advanced motorist to distraction. Sometimes there are so many signs and lights at a set of traffic lights, you become almost confused whether the lights are for you or another lane. Long ago, traffic planners stopped thinking about the poor driver when it came to signage but it seems that is about to change. Government seems keen to slash the number of road signs to give greater clarity to those remaining.
Conservation groups, as well as drivers, will welcome the initiative that has turned our once beautiful countryside into a rubbish tip of signs.
Maybe as we inevitably slow down, due to rising fuel costs and congestion, we might even see a return of some of the more quaint road signs of yesteryear, which were far more in keeping with our countryside than some of the hideous large road signs we see today.
Funny signs such as frogs crossing the road should be accompanied by pock-marked signs indicating major potholes ahead. At least we would then be given due warning before crashing our wheels and suspension in yet more black holes. Mind you, they would look rather unsightly, unlike the frogs!
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