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Author Topic: German Autobahns  (Read 65630 times)

SignBridge

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #50 on: February 18, 2010, 05:38:27 PM »

Hi guys. I'm new to this forum and I come with a lifelong interest in highways, directional signing and traffic safety. This is an excellent thread on Autobahn design and signage. I have some questions about Autobahn signing that I hope you guys can help me with.

In every reference I've seen to Autobahn signing, people attest to how good it is. But I note some substantial differences with American signing and in some cases I think the American way is better.  For instance the standard distance for the first advance exit sign on the Autobahn appears to be 1000m or about 6/10's of a mile. That seems very short for a highway where people are routinely going 80mph. American Interstate practice is 1 or 2 miles or a shorter distance if the exits are closely spaced, which seems a little better.

Another oddity about German signing is the arrow on the cantiliever sign at the beginning of the deceleration lane. American practice puts the arrow on the exiting side of the sign, usually to the right of the legend. But I see common German practice is just the opposite; the arrow is located to the left of the legend for a right-hand exit.

I'm also curious why no compass direction is shown with the route symbol on the Autobahn. It seems that European signing is oriented mostly to place names instead of route and compass direction. Does anyone know what the rationale is for these practices?  Like they say: It's all good. And it makes highways interesting. I kind of miss the earlier period in Interstate history where the major toll roads in the American Northeast each had their own specific sign system. But thats a topic for another thread.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2010, 06:55:19 PM by SignBridge »
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Chris

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #51 on: February 18, 2010, 05:47:34 PM »

Cardinal directions are almost never used in Europe. It is indeed city focused, as many countries do not have a grid system, but a national centered one (on the capital, for example, or several larger cities). The geography of Europe (mainly a bunch of very large peninsulas) and socio-economic structure does not allow an extensive grid system.

Good observation about the distance signed to the exit, this is 1 km for regular exits, and 2 km for Autobahn-Autobahn interchanges. Regular exit distance indication in Germany is probably the shortest in Europe, other countries use something between 1.2 and 3 km. I don't know exactly what the motivation behind this is.

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #52 on: February 18, 2010, 08:05:50 PM »

Hi guys. I'm new to this forum and I come with a lifelong interest in highways, directional signing and traffic safety. This is an excellent thread on Autobahn design and signage. I have some questions about Autobahn signing that I hope you guys can help me with.

Welcome to the forum!

I'm also curious why no compass direction is shown with the route symbol on the Autobahn. It seems that European signing is oriented mostly to place names instead of route and compass direction.

I have to agree with you on this one....  As Chris explained, European highways really aren't designed on a grid system.  Even more so, I've noticed that Europeans don't think of geographical directions as much as Americans when driving.  I personally feel that part of this is due to the history of travel in Europe.  Even though the Autobahnen are relatively new, various routes between these historical locations are thousands of years old.  When people would give directions to a certain location, directions were given with a major emphasis on the "via cities" part.   "To get to Stuttgart, take the A8 via Augsburg and Ulm", as opposed to "take A8 West".  I think the cardinal directions are easier, but maybe that's because I was raised in the US.  
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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #53 on: February 19, 2010, 03:19:12 AM »

European cities are not based on E-W/N-S grid systems. If there is a grid system (which is rare), they are not necessarily E-W or N-S. People in Europe generally don't think in terms of east and west, when traveling, but indeed via control cities. That is also why many Europeans have a hard time adjusting to the American system, when you only see a sign that says "I-405 south", they have no idea where it leads, because we are used to have control cities on the signs. Cardinal directions are not completely absent in Europe though, I know the UK and Portugal sometimes use cardinal directions such as "The North" or "Sul". But they are rare. What is also much more common in Europe than the United States are freeways which run diagonal, southwest to northeast for example.

For example, Spanish A-6 (Madrid - A Coruρa) can be seen both as a N-S as E-W route, as is also the case for the German A3 (The Netherlands - Austria). Not to mention many European countries where the road system is built in a spider-web, like in Hungary, Spain, Austria, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, France, etc.

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #54 on: February 19, 2010, 05:27:10 AM »

It makes the E routes interesting, because they are in a grid, more or less.
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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #55 on: February 19, 2010, 06:45:29 AM »

The cardinal directions in the UK aren't that rare, but they aren't universal. Then again, most of them are pointing to The NORTH, The NORTH WEST, The MIDLANDS, The SOUTH, The WEST, The SOUTH WEST - vague areas of the country (and you can be directed to two on one sign).

The main places where you get things like M1 (South) or M6 (N) are when there's two different turn-offs for one road and there's not an easy way to sign it in a short way.
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SignBridge

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #56 on: February 19, 2010, 12:43:00 PM »

Actually, the American Interstates don't always run in a strict grid pattern. Some of them do run diagonally, but are always designated as an E-W or N-S route. However, sometimes it can be misleading. There are situations where the German system might be more advantageous. As is often true with a lot of stuff, you can make a good case for either system.

Some diagonal Interstates are: I-15 (N-S) from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City,Utah................. I-44 (E-W) from Tulsa, Oklahoma to St. Louis, Missouri................. and I-81 (N-S) from Knoxville, Tennesee to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
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Chris

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #57 on: February 19, 2010, 02:14:56 PM »

It makes the E routes interesting, because they are in a grid, more or less.

Yep, that's true. I have to add the E-system isn't used very much outside those few countries who use it as their main numbering system (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden). Some countries don't post E-numbers at all (United Kingdom), or limited (Germany). As the amount of cross-continental traffic is low in Europe, there isn't much need for E-numbers. Some E-number routes don't make much sense anyway, look at E25 in the Netherlands, nobody would follow that route from Rotterdam to Maastricht.

I don't think E-routes are posted at all in central Asia. E40 takes a weird route through Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to Kazakhstan, which may be a detour of over 1,000 miles.

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #58 on: February 20, 2010, 12:48:54 PM »

I'm suprised there are E routes in central asia.  Aren't they European routes?  It would be like having a US highway in Canada.

Why is the amount of cross-continental traffic low?  I would think it would be fairly high, since there isn't customs between the countries.
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Chris

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #59 on: February 20, 2010, 01:18:31 PM »

The Schengen area is only a part of continental Europe (40%), plus large areas of Schengen (Scandinavia) are hardly populated. It's not like we have a lot of traffic that covers the distances like you see in the U.S., coast-to-coast. Most truck traffic stays within the 1,000 miles range, although I must add you do see trucks from countries over 2,000 miles away, like Turkey or Russia, in Western Europe.

The socio-geographic circumstances are different in Europe. Most of the population is centered in central, western and southern Europe, with large areas which do not see a lot of international traffic (Russia, Scandinavia) like you see in Western Europe. In the United States, there are large concentrations of population in the opposite sides of the country.

The busiest border crossing in Europe is between the Netherlands and Belgium, which sees 60,000 AADT, but most other border crossings do not exceed 20,000 - 30,000 AADT in Western Europe. There are many freeway border crossings that have traffic volumes below 15,000 AADT.

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #60 on: February 21, 2010, 04:34:55 PM »

It seems that European signing is oriented mostly to place names instead of route and compass direction. Does anyone know what the rationale is for these practices?
It has already been mentioned that most Europeans don't think in cardinal directions. Most common is thinking within their own country, and in alle those countries it is common that a region is represented by a large city within that region. A large city, which has importance to the road network. A control-city system. There is a difference however between the cc-systems in countries: some are line-based, just showing the next and the last city on the highway you're driving at, and some are network based, some are even mixtures. In Germany for instance the system kowns Hauptfernziele (major cities far away which are in line of the road you're on, but can be located on another crossing highway) and Fernziele (the major cities more nearby along the road you're driving on).
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J N Winkler

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #61 on: February 22, 2010, 05:48:43 AM »

In the UK there is a hierarchy of signposted destinations.

Regional destinations--These refer generally to parts of the country and are sometimes used (incorrectly) on signs as equivalents to cardinal direction words on American signs.  Examples:  "The NORTH," "The SOUTH WEST," "The Lakes" (this last was retired in 1994, IIRC).  (Regional destinations are very England-centric.  For example, if you see "The NORTH WEST" on a sign, it is referring to "motorway country" in Lancashire and environs.  Similarly, "The NORTH" refers to the north of England--Newcastle, etc.  You shouldn't really see "The NORTH" between Edinburgh and Inverness, for example.)

Super-primary destinations--These are large cities which are signed from far away on motorways and on the primary route network (essentially, all roads which receive green-background direction signs).  Examples:  "London," "Leeds," etc.

Primary destinations--These smaller cities are signed on the motorways and primary route network but from shorter distances.  Examples:  "Oxford," "Coventry," etc.
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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #62 on: February 23, 2010, 08:09:45 AM »

It's worth pointing out that there's a hierachy on primary destinations too. The M40 is signed onwards at junction 1 as Birmingham, Oxford, Beaconsfield. Birmingham is super-primary, Beaconsfield the next primary destination, but Oxford is on there over High Wycombe (the primary destination after Beaconsfield) because it's considered more important.

Ditto Portsmouth and Bournemouth beating Ringwood and Fareham on signs around Southampton (eg on the M271), despite those being the next Primary Destinations along the south coast route.
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Chris

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #63 on: March 12, 2010, 08:08:50 AM »

80 people were injured in a massive pile-up on A8 near Augsburg. 100 cars and 30 trucks collided on the Autobahn due to a combination of ice and fog.


« Last Edit: March 12, 2010, 08:12:07 AM by Chris »
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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #64 on: March 12, 2010, 11:14:25 AM »

^^ Looks like there weren't any plows or salt trucks along that stretch.  How well does Germany plow/salt its autobahns?
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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #65 on: March 12, 2010, 03:56:14 PM »

That's what those $#%! get for going 85 miles per hour...
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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #66 on: March 12, 2010, 04:15:13 PM »

I think this section is limited to 75 or 80 mph. Busy 4-lane Autobahns are often limited to 75 or 80, depending on state. That said, winter tires are de facto obligatory in Germany, but they also give a false sense of safety. People get audacious.

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #67 on: March 12, 2010, 04:58:26 PM »

I noticed that some of the windshields of the wrecked vehicles have snow on them, so at least some of the snow happened after the wreck.  In other words, the conditions in the photo may not have been the same as what it was when the accident occurred.
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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #68 on: March 12, 2010, 05:18:05 PM »

Did that crash happen in the last day or two? Here it's been several days since we've had wintry conditions. What gets me with crashes there is the severity of the damage as the cars are all over the place. I dread to think the insurance costs of that lot.

In the first picture it appears almost every car is a Beemer if you include the Mini. The local repair shop is going to be busy over the coming days/weeks :cool:
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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #69 on: March 12, 2010, 05:47:50 PM »

It happened just this morning (European time).

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #70 on: March 13, 2010, 08:36:56 AM »

Do the Germans have a bare-pavement policy?
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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #72 on: July 18, 2010, 02:57:46 PM »

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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #73 on: July 18, 2010, 10:47:18 PM »

Did anyone get to see the massive party/festival that took place on the autobahn today?  I wouldn't know about it if I weren't informed by BBC News.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10678074
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Re: German Autobahns
« Reply #74 on: July 19, 2010, 02:58:20 AM »

Imagine the fury that would result if something like this were attempted on a busy Interstate highway...
Something similar happens every year in Portland. On I-5 and I-405.

It's the Bridge Pedal -- and the entirety of southbound I-405 gets shut down.
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