I’m not in the business of giving out awards, but if I were, and because my interests tend – as far as my further education goes – in the direction of tourism and transport, I would definitely want to give an award to the town of Syke for their wonderful attempt at solving a traffic problem.
For the town, situated on the main B6 between Hannover and Bremen, safety on the roads is a major concern. Vehicles thunder through this small town day and night, navigating the various traffic lights and pedestrian crossing points skillfully thanks to a clear set of instructions on what is allowed, and what not. The problem is not so much the traffic, in this case, as the people who regulate it, and it is to them that my award, if I were in the business of giving out awards, goes.
Photo Source: Tim Ereneta – Creative Commons
There is, in the center of Syke, a certain American fast food restaurant with a small drive-in area, one which we all know from every single other restaurant in this chain throughout the world. The road in and around to the sales window is narrow and comes back out on to the main road right behind a long curve. Driving out to the right is exceptionally dangerous, for those who do not show due care and attention, and, theoretically, undesirable. There is a reason why I have not written ‘forbidden’ here, one which the town of Syke, or those who are charged with ensuring the streets are safe and the correct signage used, do not appear to appreciate.
At the junction with the main road there are two signs telling drivers how they are to react, what they may do at this point. The main sign is a standard Stop sign, the second a supplementary showing an arrow turning to the right. In the center of the road, separating the two lanes, the town has now erected a barrier to prevent drivers turning left.
If I were to ask those responsible why the center of the road has been blocked the answer would be to prevent people illegally turning left on to the main road. My next question would be: how are drivers supposed to know that turning left is illegal? To which I would probably receive a very condescending: the road signs forbid a left turn. I would then point out that the road signs do not forbid a left turn at all. What they show is that there is a Stop sign to the right on the main road once you have driven out from the restaurant. There is not even a requirement to stop before driving out, merely – since the sidewalk is clearly marked, to give priority to anyone else driving to the right. If a left turn was banned, there would either be a sign showing a left turning arrow in a red circle crossed through, or a white turning arrow in a blue background showing that only right turns are allowed.
The award to those responsible for the new barrier – and unnecessary costs incurred – in Syke is in recognition of the diligence with which those who should know better fail to understand the signage they are responsible for, and the waste of money their lack of knowledge causes.
- Viktoria Michaelis.