Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Motorways

It is raining and miserable today. It is good to note that people here drive no better in the rain than people everywhere else that I have lived. I have no idea why a little water falling from the sky seems to completely flummox some people. Do they forget how to drive? Or is it, perhaps, that they think that with the rain falling nobody will see the stupid things that they do?

I guess that this tirade was rough-on by my trip to Basingstoke this morning. I had a morning full of meetings to attend in our office in Basingstoke, a trip, I am led to understand should have taken us about half the time we actually took to get there. The traffic on the A309 from Thames Ditton to Hampton Court Palace was bumper-to-bumper and absolutely crawled. We turned south on the A309 at Hampton Court and went to the A3 motorway to head east into Basingstoke. Once on the motorway, it was a fairly easy trip, but getting to the motorway was a real trial.

I did, however, learn some interesting things this week about the motorways. They are approximately the same age as the Interstate system in the United States and contrary to the theory that I had developed last year on my first visit here, there is some rhyme or reason to the striping on the motorways. It is not as intuitive (I believe) than the striping on US highways, but it is, nonetheless, there. Here is a brief primer of what I have learned:

1) The striping between lanes going the same direction (the white lines on US Highways) is narrower than the striping between lanes going in opposite directions.

2) The striping that runs between lanes going in opposite directions is thick.

3) Like in the US, where there are two lines between lanes present, you cannot cross the line if there is a solid line on your side of the double set.

4) The length and frequency of the lines between lanes has a meaning. If the lines are close together and long, you are meant to give way (yield to the opposite lane) when crossing the line. If they are far apart and short, they are only an indication that you have two lanes and that they are both headed the same direction.

So, all you foreigners out there, be sure to bring a ruler with you if you plan on driving over here… you’ll need it!

I hope you have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Don Bergquist – 22-March-2005 – Thames Ditton, United Kingdom

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