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Re: Marseil in America - highways

March 12 2012 at 6:27 PM
Marseil  (no login)
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Response to Marseil in America - highways

Not everything is new to me in the US: I first went in this country around 1984. And I lived for six months in New York City in 1987. I am always happy to return to the States even if there are places that attract me more than others.

This time, I was on a trip that was part business, part leisure.

Unlike many Americans, I am lot interested in cars, driving, roads, etc. To me a motor vehicle may be a means, but it is definitely not an objective. I rented a car when in Las Vegas, and was very happy I did, as it allowed me to escape easily from the casinos on the strip. I did not drive much, maybe around 150 miles in a week.

Driving in the US, for a European, needs some attention, especially when getting back to it, to check for traffic lights. In Europe and Asia, traffic lights are on the side of the road where you have to stop. In the Americas, they are on the other side. The typical European driver in the US would go half way through a cross roads, then realize in a panic he is facing a red light, and stop right in the middle of the crossroads in front of the light.

Besides this, driving is the US is orderly (positive) and slow (negative). Generally signs are easy and clear, exempt for street names that are not always visible. City limits are often poorly marked. If I have a remark to make about highways in the US, it would be that there way too many highways, they are way too wide, and tar covers way too much earth. It is just the consequence of the car-centric oil-addict model.

Comparing with Europe. Most highways are free in the US, whereas they are toll roads as soon as you get out of cities in most European countries (UK and Germany are exceptions). Tourists may find French highways expensive, but 99% of drivers use them, either daily for commuting or on long distance trips. Also highways are much safer, and better maintained than regular roads. Obviously, they are much faster too.

Another comparison with Marseille rather than a generality about Europe. Here there is very little law enforcement, which means I can drive any way, at almost any speed, zigzag whenever I want, and park just anywhere without paying any attention to it. In the US, I feel I have to respect rules, or I will be caught instantly.

Yes, gas prices are low in the US, which just an incentive to use more oil, and feed even more the car-centric oil-addict model I talked about earlier. Here, gas prices are higher, essentially made up of taxes, which represent a sizable source of revenue for governments. High oil prices is to be seen as an incentive to use public transportation. I did not check gas prices during this trip, as I was sold a full tank of oil when renting the car, and had to return it empty. Of course, I did not drive enough to empty the tank, so the rental company made this extra benefit on me.

After Vegas, I was happy to be in New York city, with a lot less traffic in Manhattan than on the Strip in Vegas. I was so happy to be able to travel by the fantastic NY subway system, one of the best in the world!


 Respond to this message   

  1. Interesting observations - Nat on Mar 12, 2012
    1. There is hope - BlueTrain on Mar 13, 2012
  2. Re: Marseil in America - highways - BlueTrain on Mar 13, 2012
    1. Right vs Left - Nat on Mar 13, 2012
      1. Re: Right vs Left - BlueTrain on Mar 13, 2012
        1. Re: Right vs Left - Marseil on Mar 15, 2012
          1. Re: Right vs Left - Chris on Mar 15, 2012
          2. Non-standard standards - Nat on Mar 15, 2012
            1. Re: Non-standard standards - BlueTrain on Mar 15, 2012
              1. Re: Non-standard standards - Nat on Mar 15, 2012
                1. Perhaps, but... - BlueTrain on Mar 16, 2012
                  1. Trust - Nat on Mar 16, 2012
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