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Road Rage (Part 3)

Let’s play a game of human snakes and ladders. Except let’s just call it ‘ladders’ – and let’s go to South Carolina where all the crossings are basically painted ladders on the road.

Actually … we should actually clear up what they’re called first. ‘Crossings‘ ? ‘Pedestrian Crossings‘ ? ‘Cross Walks‘ ? Back home (where we know how to pronounce the letter ‘Z’ properly) you do of course get Zebra Crossings, because the markings on the road look like one.

Here though, I’m beginning to think that they vary state to state, because when in Atlanta last week (which is in Georgia, not South Carolina) the line markings in the road there for a pedestrian crossing were different altogether.

And then there are inconsistencies in the crossings here … sometimes straight lines, sometimes diagonal lines, sometimes – no lines at all.

(From left to right: A diagonal lined crossing in Charleston. A weirdly spaced crossing in Atlanta, and the most famous Zebra Crossing in the whole world – at Abbey Road in the UK)

And then … the most dumb thing here: Putting a crossing in front of the ‘stop’ line for the line of traffic at a junction. It just looks … wrong ! And seeing a solid line going all the across the road to me means “You can’t turn down here” and I often think that I can’t make a perfectly valid turn because I’m confusing a crossing line for a ‘no entry’ line.

Four marked out ‘crosspaths’ for pedestrians to get across (Note: no ‘zebra’ style marking – more inconsistencies), but the inner lines have all been joined up to form a square. It makes me think it’s a marked out zone which shouldn’t be entered unless your exit is clear … and it makes me dither at junctions.

So I’d like some proper consistent crossing markings. I want them to go perpendicular to the road – and not at some crazy angle that I’ve seen. I want road repairers to at least make an effort to repaint the crosswalk lines so that half of it isn’t there anymore (like I’ve seen).

Oh, and I miss my green man and Belisha beacons.

Traffic lights tomorrow.

11 responses to “Road Rage (Part 3)”

  1. Coco J. says:

    Belisha BeaconGeoff- Americans don’t really walk anywhere. So why would we waste any time painting nice little lines or erecting Belisha beacons (which look like barber shop poles- most confusing as I would think they’re marking the closest barber) just so you walking Brits know where to cross the street?

    Also, I distinctly remember asking you when I first visited England what the hell those barber shop poles and striped crossings were all about because they didn’t immediately make any sense to me either.

  2. Richard says:

    Why not jaywalk? It’s great fun…

  3. sam says:

    Another weird thing about zebra crossings here is that cars can still turn right. Loads of times now i have started to walk when the green man is showing and nearly been run over by some maniac driver. Even though i thought the point of zebra crossings was to make it safe for pedestrians.

  4. Johnny Alpha says:

    Did you know the same guy who suggested that roundabouts were called, well, erm, “Roundabouts” also suggested traffic lights should be called “Stop and Gos”. One stuck, the other didn’t!

  5. scottb says:

    It just occured to me that part of the reason we don’t have street markings used as prominently as in Europe is because in a lot of North America (the manly bits anyway) the streets are covered in snow for quite a bit of the winter, so any painting on the pavement is rendered utterly useless. This results in us having to rely on elevated signs. It really is not a big deal if you have grown up with it, so Geoff, just keep at it and adapt. It will get easier.

    I will admit, though, that roundabouts are much preferable to intersections controlled by lights, although the cloverleaf is a good system if so many people weren’t such wimpy drivers. I hate the rampant proliferation of stop lights, and my pet peeve, the four-way stop. They should be four-way yields (ie. roundabouts).

    Also, when it rains here it can be impossible to tell where the lane markings are because we have no cat’s eyes on the road — they would be destroyed whenever a snow plow does its thing -making night drives in the wet quite harrowing. At least we don’t get that much rain though.

  6. Shemsi says:

    Is there a such thing as jay-walking in SC? I know there isn’t in TX. There are crosswalks, but there’s no legal requirement to cross at crosswalks. It’s not even that unusual to see people walking (running) across freeways. I haven’t seen that here, but I have noticed people crossing city streets wherever they feel like it.

    It was nice in Atlanta that they had signs saying that cars should stop for pedestrians on crosswalks.

  7. geofftech says:

    #4 – In South Africa, they call traffic lights “Robots”. Straight up.

    #5 – Scott, but in snows in England too! And I don’t recall it being much of an issue there. I know it’s just ‘different’, but when you’ve grown up as I have in the UK where the road signs are plenitful and the road markings are all over the place, it’s strange driving round in a land where there seems to be only half of the signs/markings to what I’m used to.

    It’s better that driving round in Malta as I did once many years ago, where there were like – umm, NO road signs whatsover. None. Zilcho. Nul Points. That was damn confusing and caused many an argument between the driver and navigator …

  8. Cats eyes sink into their box when they are driven over by a car. They have a sloped front and rear guide, which I imagine would have the same effect with a snow plough.

  9. geofftech says:

    And cats eyes in the UK are cool too! They have different colours depending on what the road is:

    White for the centre of a road.
    Red along the hard shoulder of a motorway
    Orange along the edge of a central reservation,
    and Green denoting the exit/entrance to a slip road at junctions.

    The ones I’ve seen here in the US have all just been plain white all the time.

  10. Japan has a nice attitute to zebra crossings from what I’ve seen (in Sendai and Tokyo). In addition to crossings going 4 ways around a crossroads they complete the whole thing with two crossings going along the diagonals! Excellent efficiency. I think they use black and white stripes much like the UK, and, of course, they drive on the left like us too.

  11. jj says:

    #6 – yes, “jaywalking” is illegal. but “jaywalk” isn’t a legal description. to jaywalk is to cross the street illegaly. that’s the whole definition.

    anyhow, from SC Code of Laws, Title 56, Chapter 5:

    SECTION 56-5-3110. Pedestrian obedience to traffic-control devices and traffic regulations.

    (a) A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of any official traffic-control device specifically applicable to him unless otherwise directed by a police officer.

    (b) Pedestrians shall be subject to traffic and pedestrian-control signals as provided in Sections 56-5-970 and 56-5-990.

    (c) At all other places pedestrians shall be accorded the privileges and shall be subject to the restrictions stated in this chapter.

    … blah, blah, blah …

    SECTION 56-5-3210. Penalties for violating Sections 56-5-2720, 56-5-3190, or 56-5-3200.

    A person who violates any of the provisions of Sections 56-5-3190, 56-5-3200, or 56-5-2720 is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by a fine not exceeding twenty-five dollars or imprisonment for not exceeding ten days.

    so, $25 fine or ten days in jail.

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