If I did not know the town where I live and fancied a round of golf there, I would turn off the motorway at a sign pointing to a course one supposes to be close by, but which is, in fact, a long way from the town on a winding country road.
Another sign points to a service station that is not there, but some kilometres on the other side of the town, which is itself a few kilometres from the sign, and which is easier to reach from further along the motorway.
A third sign points to a well-known cave which is nowhere in the area, but far away in the opposite direction, and which one can get to from the town by a route no sane person would take.
In the town, numerous signs invite me to visit the shopping centre. The town has no shopping centre. They mean the central shopping area of the town, but they do not say what they mean.
On my frequent car journeys south to Malaga, I have learned never to trust road signs pointing to hotels or restaurants along the way, because they are often not along the way. I now know how easy it is to fall victim to a misleading road sign taking me to a place I do want to go to.
When I get to Madrid, I have the choice of going through the city centre or taking the M-30, the M-40 or the M-50 around it. The signs pointing to the M-30 do not tell me how to cross the M-40 to get to the road I’m looking for out of the city. Signs pointing to the M-40 will get me out if I can resist the temptation to take the M-50, which was unfinished the last time I used it and which brought me into the city instead.
On the coastal route west from Malaga City, I find myself on a motorway I happen to know to be toll free as far as Fuengirola. I also happen to know that to avoid paying a toll, I must veer off it at Fuengirola. But the first time I used this road I missed the small sign high over my head telling me to veer off, and was forced to pay a toll to use a road I had no intention of using. Many drivers who do the same are Moroccans who sleep in their cars on the way from Northern Europe and cook in lay-bys on the side of the road to reduce travelling costs. They can ill afford this toll fee. When I complained to the motorway concessionary, I was told all the signs were designed to European Union standards.
One of my biggest surprises on a road was once seeing a huge sign in front of me saying ‘Go back.’ It was on a one-way street in Ireland, and I was driving down it the wrong way. I went back, happy that – EU design standards apart – somebody had come up with a road sign that said exactly what it meant.
Filed under: General by Vivion O'Kelly