Question for Non-Americans - Road signs

This goes along with my thread on non-US postal codes.

In the US every road from big highways down to small country dirt and gravel roads have names, numbers, or designations. When traveling on major highways they have “mile markers” every .2 of a mile. Every exit has a number and they tell you what towns are off that exit plus they have signs telling you what services are there like fuel or hotels. So lets say you have a breakdown and need to call for help you simply say “Southbound Highway 35 at mile marker 108” and they come right to you. Granted the highways in some states are marked better than others.

Now my relatives visited France and they said in France many major roadways dont have names or numbers like “120” but just a sign that tells you where the road goes to and how far it is like “Paris 120 km”. Is this true? Also people are saying in some countries like Guatemala, Panama, or Thailand many roads have no names.

So I wonder what you all have found? Do you find your own countries signage of its roads lacking? Have you visited countries where you could not figure out what road you are on or the road had no markings?

Also you all from Thailand and other places where they dont mark or name roads, just how big a road does it have to be before they start doing this?

In Canada it’s not all that uncommon as you go north in my experience for roads to have three names.

It’s original name, James Street ( after James the son of the founder of this little town!)

Next, it’s also called county road 23, because at some point the counties needed to get things numbered into an orderly fashion, mostly for mapping etc.

Thirdly, this road will, somewhat magically, ‘turn’ into, once you leave the county, highway 7.

So to review, in town it’s labelled and refered to one way, once you clear town but are still in the county it is now labelled it’s county road number designation, and once you clear the county, it is now clearly labelled the number of the highway which may run for many miles and which it is effectively a part of.

And, just to make it all extra confusing, this does NOT hold true everywhere. Just to keep everybody on their toes.

You should see the Google maps listings for directions, kind of hilarious.

Fortunately Canadians are mostly used to this, so they just merrily on in all directions and hope for the best!

(I wish I was joking.)

:confused: Roads in Thailand are not named? Not at all true. All streets are named, and highways have numbers and/or names such as the Asian Highway being Highway 2.

Many of the streets in Bangkok will change name too as you drive along them. You can be driving on Rama I Road, then it suddenly becomes Ploenchit Road when you pass the Ratchaprasong intersection and finally becomes Sukhumvit Road once you pass under the Expressway.

Signage here is pretty adequate. I like the stone kilometer markers along the highways.

In Japan the minor streets have no names. This is a map of the area of Tokyo I used to live in and the only streets which are named are the ones showing with numbers. They actually have names as well.

As the addressing is by block, as I posted in the other thread, you can’t give a street address along that road. Major intersections are given names though so that is convenient, however minor ones are not.

Whenever you take a taxi, you have to give directions rather than an absolute reference. For example, I would tell the taxi driver to take Awashima Road, past Awashima Intersection, then take the first right in 100 m and then the second left in 70 m, right by that brown house.

Well, all streets are named in Bangkok. I guess out in the villages, there are a lot of nameless roads. But I feel the OP is referring to the type of road that would normally have signage.

Costa Rica used to not have street names and addresses at all. They are trying to implement them now but they still only cover a fraction of the country. You just address mail by direction and distance to the nearest landmark even if that landmark is just a fruit stand.

Maybe this is something they do in your state.

I have in very few circumstances seen small signs marking every tenth of a mile, but 95% of the time, I just see mile markers every mile.

In the Cayman Islands almost all roads are named. The few that are not formally named tend to be new major roads, even though there is a colloquially used name. The politicians are waiting for someone to die so they can formally name the road after the person.

Alas the GIS database we use for mapping at the 911 center where I work only lists formal road names. So sometimes the computer will not recognize an address as valid because the road is not officially named.

However we LOVE to change road names. Even on major roads. Bobby Thompon Rd becomes Huldah Avenue at the traffic lights by the cricket pitch. One long block later it becomes Thomas Russel Ave. And it changes again at the next traffic lights a block away and becomes North Sound Rd. Less than a half mile away is another roundabout where the named North Sound Rd peels ff tot he right but if you continue straight the road takes the Esterley Tibbetts Highway name. This is actually an exercise I give to new trainees to be sure they understand road names.

This is not unknown here in the U.S. of A., either. The major surface street that runs through downtown Atlanta is called, at various places along its route, “Whitehall Street”, “Peachtree Street”, “Peachtree Road”, and “Peachtree Industrial Road”.

I’ve driven in France and your relatives are mixing things up. There are signs that give you distances to major destinations, but there are also signs which tell you the road. The numeral of the road is often displayed at the entrance to each village or town and at each roundabout. As for minor streets, you have to look for the street names.

This is largely a difference in how people navigate the roads in the US versus how they do so in France. In the US, we tend to navigate by route numbers. That is, if Americans were travelling from Chicago to Tampa, they would plan their route by noting the route numbers that would get them there, say I-65 to I-24 to I-75. This focus on route numbers is why the US has relatively unique and distinct signs for interstates, US highways, state highways, turnpikes, and the like.

Europeans, however, tend to navigate by cities. So, if a European were traveling from Chicago to Tampa, the thinking would be more like, Indianapolis to Louisville to Chattanooga to Atlanta to Tampa, with the actual route numbers being of secondary importance. Consequently, the route signs in Europe are relatively bland, and much more prominence is given to the cities that lie ahead.

No, it’s not. I’ve traveled to France by car and used maps where major roadways had easily identifiable names. One can easily google France’s road map and see the red and blue tags by means of which major roads are labeled through a letter and a number. It’s the same all over Europe.

In Panama City, all streets technically have names, but the names they are known by often differ. Avenida Ricardo J. Alfaro, for example, is universally (and rather ominously) called Tumba Muerto (Tomb of the Dead). Avenida Simon Bolivar is the Transistmica (Trans-Isthmian), and Avenida Nicanor Obarrio is Calle 50.

I just checked Google maps, and was surprised to discover my own street (where I have lived for 23 years) is labeled Calle Rogelio Alfaro. It’s always called Calle 48. The parallel streets to the north and south are Calle 49 and Avenida 5a B Sur.

Most street intersections have no signs. However, things have improved vastly in the past 10 years or so and now many of the major intersections have traffic lights and signs.

There are a few major named highways, including the Panamericana (or Interamericana) that runs most of the length of the country, the Transistmica that runs from Panama City on the Pacific to Colon on the Atlantic, and the Carretera Nacional in the Azuero Peninsula, plus a few newer toll roads. These are usually marked every kilometer.

One of the more irritating things here is that even when roads are marked, they are marked not where you make the turn, but afterward!

This sounds pretty much like it is here on the United States. Roads go through name changes as the enter different jurisdictions and they also accumulate County Road, State Route, and U.S. Route designations.

There’s a road that forms two sides of a rectangle around Dayton, Ohio, that has several names as you go along it—Turner Road, Shoup Mill Road, Needmore Road, Harshman Road, Woodman Drive—before it merges with Wilmington Pike.

Interesting that you see this a drawback. I have lived in the UK and US, and driven widely in Europe, and I find US signs that often just state the name of the road quite unhelpful. If I’m not familiar with the area, my primary concern at a key junction is “does this road go to Philadelphia”, not “is it called the New Jersey Turnpike”.

The UK style is to emphasize the destination clearly. Major roads rarely have names like “New Jersey Turnpike”, they only have numerical designations, so there’s always plenty of room on a sign for both, like this for example:

Major controlled-access roads intended for long-distance driving in the United States are meticulously signed exactly like this. Every interchange tells you not only the name or numerical designation of the cross-road but also what the nearest town is on that direction.

And if you’re going to a big city like Philadelphia or New York, the signs will tell you exactly how to get there.

It took me about 10 seconds to find a picture of one that does not.

You found what, one sign? That looks like the very last sign before the lane split. By the time you’ve reached that sign you have already passed four others telling you things like “Exit 6B I-95 North Philadelphia 2 miles,” “Exit 6A I-95 South Baltimore 1 1/2 miles,” etc., and perhaps even “New York and Points North Use N.J. Turnpike.”

I don’t think major highways suffer from this problem, but I’ve been in two countries where street names suffer from a severe lack of signage: Albania and India.

In Tirana, I wanted to go to a specific restaurant that was recommended in my guidebook and it was EXTREMELY hard to find because there were just no signs at all. There was a little map of downtown in my book and using the river that runs through the city as the major landmark, I thought I could find the street. Nope. I walked in circles for awhile until a nice local pointed the way. (Albanians love Americans.) I was there years after this article was written and the problem was not appreciably better.

I spent 2.5 months in India and was there over my birthday. My mom emailed me at one point asking for my address because my aunt wanted to send me a card. I had to tell her I didn’t know my address. I didn’t even know what street I lived on.

At least in a lot of developing countries, highways are a newer development and can be really politically important. They are DEFINITELY named, because what they’re named after is part of the politics. For example, when I took a cab into Hyderabad (where I lived in India) the cab driver bragged to me about how the highway was brand new.

Yes, it’s the only one, but it’s really making me mad. Plus, I have to pay taxes but I don’t get to vote. You meanies. I miss the Queen, I’m going home, if I can find the way.