This scheme was (maybe still is) reflected in the color of roads on printed maps. Google Maps also used this scheme some years ago.
I understand their reasoning, but the day Google standardized on the current yellow & white scheme was a sad day for this UK Maps user.
It is also very easy to remember and I still remember my former school's postcode despite have not been there for more than 20 years. It is quite an achievement given that I sometimes even forget my current car's registration number.
E.g. a short form address (useful for scribbling a return address on the back of an envelope/parcel for example) could be '123/AB4 5CD' instead of '123 St George Crescent // Upper Bockingbrook // Froimington // Froimingtonshire // AB4 5CD'.
Know that exit 32 is at mile marker 32 provides me so much more information than knowing that exit 8 is immediately after exit 7, which could be 1/4 mile past it or 40 miles past it.
Luckily for you, America is not building any new infrastructure, so mileposts should be stable for some time.
OTOH you know that exit 8 is the exit which follows exit 7, whereas you have no clue whatsoever whether there are other exits between 15 and 32.
 except for exit 7B.
If you're running low on fuel, and you know you need exit 32, and you come up on exit 15, you don't know if there are any exists between 15 and 32 but you can at least judge whether your car can make it 17 more miles on its fuel.
If you're low on fuel, and you know you need exit 8, and you come up on exit 7, you know it's the last exit before you need to get off the Interstate, but you don't know the distance between exits 7 and 8, so you can't make an informed decision on whether the fuel you have remaining is sufficient to get to your exit.
To be fair, your point is the argument my SO has been battling me with for the past decade :-)
Of course, this doesn't come without some controversy.
And yes, it appears in songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH1buq3Ks0I
Apropos of the Wikipedia article and out of general interest, any HN'ers closer to the zone 2 roadsign shown than me? (just off the A281 at Partridge Green).
A855 is single lane around most of the island. Not a single lane each way, but a single lane with little pullouts every so often to let oncoming traffic past. We drove extremely defensively. However, the scenery was top notch.
The region 4-5 boundary along the A5 is just Watling Street. It originates in London today as Edgware Road, which preserves its distinctive Roman straightness (it even has the faux-Roman Marble Arch at the start in Hyde Park):
The obvious exception is the boundary
of the phased Roman invasion, which cuts diagonally from south-west to north-east:
The Fosse Way was originally a military road
to support the eponymous barrier 'ditch' and rampart.
Now it is mostly (near) the course of the A38
which does not follow the radial region 3
and does not fork from the A3
to the SW of London.
The regions are also approximately the division of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms: Sussex ( South Saxons, region 2), Wessex ( West Saxons, region 3), Essex ( East Saxons, region 1) and Mercia (er... midlands, for all-the-other-Saxons, regions 3~4):
Watling Street later became the border between Viking and
Anglo-Saxon sectors of the island
(hence the radical divergence in accents and place names
on opposite sides of the road):
Also note that because it is essentially topographical,
it was also followed by the private railways,
giving LNER (region 1), SR (region 2), GWR (region 3) and LMS (aforementioned Mercia and west coast line, ~ regions 4,5,6), hence the originating stations in London:
P.S. Direct links to Wikipedia should be banned from HN submissions.
Why? Surely, like every other post, they can be ignored if uninteresting, but they’re usually information many of us haven’t been exposed to and can generate useful additional content...like yours.
As an anti-invasion tactic during World War II, a civil defence measure was to remove many road signs. That’d stop those nazis in their tracks.
So to this day, I find the UK a difficult country to navigate by signs alone as they are often absent at important local junctions.
In many other parts of the world, you can trace your way from a major destination by signs at forks/exits. In the UK, this often only works on ‘M’otorway routes. With satnav now ubiquitous, much local signposting tends to deplete over time, unless it is to control traffic flow.
This is the opposite of my experience as well - I've driven in many countries (currently live in NZ), and despite its quirks (not saying it's perfect), I've found using UK road numbers for directions very easy in general compared to other countries that have highways that re-use road numbers in multiple states or something, which has at times caused confusion.
Maybe your experience is from a particular part of the UK where this depletion has happened, but I thought things like direction signage were centrally managed.
Before I set out somewhere, I look at a map and scrawl on a piece of paper a list of the roads and junctions I need to use and after a brief familiarisaiton with the route visually, I rely thereafter solely on road signs.
Britain's got great (and beautiful) signage, in my opinion.
Is there a system you are using to navigate / prepare when driving to areas that are new to you? Particularly off motorways?
I don't find that they will generally disappear from signs (unless you're past them), and I find the system used in the UK very logical.
Also, I don't find the lack of reflectors at the edge of country roads to be an issue - most are delineated by white lines, which means it's easy to see the edges at night. This is not the case in most African countries, and I found driving through Africa at night a challenging, tiring experience because of this, but maybe if you're used to reflectors, it's the same situation just at a different level.
x - I don't think it's good to be babied and feel you need a sat nav for every journey. Since ditching mine (I was a keen user until maybe 3-4 years ago), I've felt much more independent and capable, and happy to drive wherever. I'm sure I'll be in the minority in this opinion, though.
M1 North to J21 for M69 South
M69 South to J2 onto A5 North
A5 North for 11 miles to Tamworth turning
1. I want to go to a show at a popular venue (arena or theatre sized) in an area I know. If I know vaguely where it is, I’ll drive into the city centre and probably meet a one way system and follow the signs for the venue.
2. I want to visit a National Trust property. Head for a major road that runs past it and there will be brown signs that give you the best route to it.
3. Travelling somewhere and decide there is a problem with traffic / the weather and look for a detour. Signs are often perfect for choosing the best roads to head for another waypoint and then the best way from there to where you were originally heading.
I’m not some kind of crazy person who will only navigate by signs - I check things out on maps and put sat nav on, but I know the limitations of all and often the signs send me on the best route.
The people who figure these out and keep them updated are amazing at their job.
leave the package for Paddy behind the bar at The Village Inn :)
Everything else is weird. Starting from the typography which looks clumsy, to inconsistent signage (which city am I tracking at the moment? Why is it not on the sign anymore?), junction numbers which are sometimes missing, abbreviations of places on signs, directions painted on the tarmac at junctions without signs.
A lot of those A roads go through cities, but are rarely labelled as such. Fully consistent with the patchy signs of street names in cities at junctions and house numbers only present on about 30% of houses, particularly shopfronts.
Not using the E numbers is just the icing on the cake.
Further, driving on the country side is dangerous at night as there are no reflectors on either side of the road.
So I guess you are right. Non-locals are still being kept at bay by the leaky signage traditions of the UK.
At least the UK (on the non-minor roads) has decent "cat's eyes" that reflect light back very well from the car's headlights, as they have actual mirrors in them.
Oz and NZ instead have blocks of plastic embedded in the road instead with a reflective strip on, which in terms of visibility distance is very noticeably poorer (i.e. the reflective power is much less).
Obviously there will be worse places. But I am comparing the UK to other reasonably densely populated counties in the vicinity.
On the whole, modern British road signage is of excellent quality and was globally influential. Little history here: http://www.britishroadsignproject.co.uk/jock-kinneir-margare...
For me, where there are small gaps or occasional quirks it adds to the flavour. I really don't want a rigid grid of apparent perfection imposed over anything. It may be helpful but it is of no cultural value.
I am from the UK and this makes driving in a new area of the UK very difficult for me. I don’t know if it’s the same in other countries as I’ve never driven in another country.
If the roads are busy then other cars are on top of the direction arrows making it impossible to know which lane to be in when approaching a lot of roundabouts or junctions.
I think the typography is wonderfully clear, especially that they use lowercase letters for most words. Several other countries use it too.
It was specifically designed to be legible at a distance when moving at speed, as well as under poor driving conditions. I think it does that job well, and it's one of the reasons many other countries have adopted it--the letterforms are freely available for anyone to use.