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So after going back to the US for two weeks over the holidays, a few thoughts…

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by grue, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. #1 grue, Jan 7, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
    Some of this stuff is common knowledge, some of it it's been so long since I was home that I'd forgotten.

    1. Californian roads are much, much better signed (high-visibility [usually illuminated] signs advising of upcoming cross streets).

    2. Lights are synchronized so you don't hit 13 red lights in a row on a major road.

    3. Unless otherwise signed, if you are in the rightmost lane and turning right, you may proceed through a red light after coming to a complete stop and being sure to give way to traffic on the road you're turning on to.

    4. Speed limits, of course, are far more sensible and based on reality.

    5. The actual roads are a bit rough and shitty in a lot of areas, but not unforgivably so.

    6. The drivers are fcuking awful and don't realize how good they have it. They tailgate like complete tossbags, they don't understand the idea that the leftmost (rightmost for us) lane is for passing, not cruising, they refuse to use turn signals, and half of them don't understand that if it's dark out, there are lights on the vehicle you can turn on to help you see. Drivers here do the same stuff, but not anywhere near on the same scale.

    7. If you're not being a COMPLETE idiot, the cops leave you alone.

    Basically traffic moves at a much better pace in general over there because the engineers are actually capable of doing their job, for the most part. You still get hung up in traffic because the roads are carrying far more cars than they were originally planned to have, I'm sure, but they've done what they can to alleviate that by making traffic flow as much as possible, and to have less things that cause people to drive slowly (no having to look for a partially obscured sign that may or may not tell you something useful about the road you're on). If we could swap our systems without having to take Californian drivers, we'd be in traffic utopia.

    So this really begs the question: WHY do they not synchronize the lights here to keep traffic flowing? I'm guessing it's because they're actually incompetent and don't know how to do that.
    • Like Like x 2
  2. i spent a few weeks in new york last year and i hired a car and drove to dc, that right turn at red lights caught me out until people kept honking at me then i saw someone else do it so i started.

    i never had a problem with people cruising in the fast lane though, almost all the drivers i saw on the west coast kept their distance and stayed right unless over taking
  3. I agree with everything you said except point 6, I traveled through the south, as well as NY, NJ and Cal and didn't find the drivers bad at all, in fact much better than Australian drivers.
  4. Like VX800, I didn't encounter many idiotic drivers, probably because I was there during spring break, so everyone is happy and on holidays. The roads in California heading to LA from OC were horribad though...traffic stopped for a few kilometers, much like the 10km traffic jams on the Westgate, but more stops, rather than crawls.

    The turn right at traffic lights caught me out many times, but what a great idea! It is similar to some signed traffic lights in Sydney.
  5. It's government. No-one in the public service wants to stick their neck out to sponsor a high-profile IT project. Politicians will meddle, the contract will go to the lowest-of-the-low bidders, and the sponsor gets the blame when the project falls short of expectations.
  6. I was in the south a couple months ago. I found Texans driving to be pretty woahful.
  7. I was all ready to call it a 'Vision Zero' speed reduction measure, but Occam's Razor says you're probably right.
  8. I was over there in Sept/Oct 2012. I did about 7000km in 6 weeks from LA, across the Gulf Coast to Miami, trained it from Miami to Washington DC then drove again from DC to New York.
    The roads were great, exits off the Interstates clearly marked (love the exit numbering system!). The right turn on red is great as are the centre turning lanes on a lot of the local roads. The speed limits were in the most part sensible as was the enforcing thereof by the constabulary. I was regularly cruising around 85 - 90mph and the only cop who stopped me did so because he is doing a trip to Australia and had never actually talked to an Aussie! I can only assume that he did a rego check and the rental car details must show who the driver is (driving a Texas rego'd Mustang in Alabama)
    The only thing that threw me a bit was the four way stop signs. Essentially, whoever arrives at the stop sign first has right of way. Although initially confusing, it did seem to work well.
    Lets import a few US road safety experts out here to talk sense to our local guys!
  9. We spent 3 weeks on the West Coast and I drove 2000 miles in that period. I agree with your point 1 through to 5.

    We found the road system great, easy to navigate once you get used to a couple things...Like driving on the right side.

    Turning right on a red arrow is great and should be done here.
    Most speed limits we encountered I thought were a bit low, on the interstates I consitently sat 10-15mph over the sign posted limits.
    The four stop sign thing was confucing to start with, but makes sense. I think a system like that encourages people to actualy pay attention to thier surroundings not just barrel through a give way sign because they know the others have stop signs.
    Another thing we noticed is pedestrian have right of way everywhere.

    The roads around Mammoth Lakes were nothing short of amazing. Wide ultra smooth, good riding/driving roads.
  10. Depending on roads being 2-way or one-way, and how many intersections it can be difficult to effectively synchronise traffic lights. If you have a whole stretch going green or red there will always be some people wondering why the hell the lights are changing when there is no one was waiting, and you can't have two ways roads progressively going red or green as this doesn't allow traffic to cross over the main road.
    Supposedly the Gold Coast City Council is going to be doing it this year, but I'm not sure how it will work as Main Roads own all the big stuff. I'll just stick to the hills as much as possible.
  11. What I don't understand is why traffic lights remain switched on all the time. I was travelling down Windsor road the other day. I'd entered outside of lights and the road was dead. But then I hit the first light and I was all of a sudden travelling in a massive pack of cars, surrounded by empty roads. If traffic lights were programmed to only run when there was enough vehicles for them to be necessary and at other times they were give way signs favouring the larger road then you would get a much better distribution of traffic at off peak times.
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  12. I hate it when lights are programmed on intervals, and not based on actuating the pad thingys. Also, there should be different programmes for different times of the day.
    I was a bit confused by the 4-way stop sign thing in Hawaii, but it seemed to be ok after a couple goes. The locals sense fear in the tourist and go for it.
    The other thing I noticed over there was more visible policing. You expected to see cops around, so you didn't push it.
    I watched a guy J-walking (not dangerously) in Waikiki and cops just appeared on foot and in a car, couldn't believe it. If anyone is going there, just cross at the lights.
  13. We have quite a few 4-way stop signs in Sydney.

    I personally really hate stop signs. Almost all of them should be give way signs. Unless vision is really blocked if there is no traffic why you need to come to a complete stop is absolutly beyond me. It seems like I'm performing some ancient ritual.
  14. Riding in France was awesome too.

    The fast lane is FAST. Unless you're doing 20 over stay out of it.

    And no one sits in that lane. No trucks no grannies. No one. It was awesome !!
  15. I think the road engineers got the idea from the cemetery scene in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly :D.
  16. AFAIK many of the lights on main arterial roads in Brisbane are coordinated.
    Really sucks if you are going the wrong way as you will get every red light but a dream if you're going the right way.
  17. I went on Youtube before going to Michigan and watched all the DMV learner driver videos. :) also the Learner biggest mistakes videos too. Very helpful, their roads as said are pretty shmick especially those centre lanes and u-turn lanes.
  18. Melbourne and Sydney traffic coordination and control happens by the amusingly named SCATS system. In both cities these are structured around providing public transport the best run possible. General vehicle traffic plays second fiddle. Scats can also provide priority paths for motorcades if requested for security reasons. In Melbourne trams get normal priority.

    Scats also co-ordinates regional traffic in Victoria in Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Traralgon.
  19. I was in calafornia last year and was surprised when their red light cameras were turned off because the were making massive losses. Aparently a judge ruled because the cameras couldn't identify the driver it meant the fines couldn't be enforced, so they were made optional. Guess not many people felt like paying. Got pulled up for not stopping at a stop sign but the honey of an officer could only give me a warning as they were in the middle of a pay dispute with the state and hadn't written a ticket in 8 months. strange place at times.
  20. I was there many years ago and what impressed me at the time was the on ramp traffic signals on the freeways (California). Instead of stopping and starting both lanes at the same time, resulting in a merge issue further down the ramp, the lights in each lane are staggered Lhs green, rhs red then vica versa, so you end up with an immediate zipper merge which doesn't clog up the ramp.