Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Swirling Thoughts #163 – inverse proportionality is the naming convention for Israeli roadways. In case you seek out patterns, like me.

Eureka! Bigger number = smaller road
It’s really quite simple – less is simply more. The “One”, the “Two”, the “Four”, the legendary toll road, the “Six” – these are all relatively large highways. Expect minimal curves, sufficient lanes for passing and clearly marked signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Increase a digit, lose a lane
As you navigate throughout the land you start to understand that whether it’s the 38 or the 60, the 90 or the 87, or even the 92, a road with two digits is a road with two lanes. And sometimes a shoulder. But look out for donkeys and goat herders before you use that shoulder as a passing lane.

The three digit road
How can it get smaller than two lanes? Well for starters they take away the divider line. Or the shoulder. (You may get one but don’t expect both). But don’t worry. There’s room for everyone. Also, somebody forgot to add English to some of the signs. But they added lots of white-knuckle hairpin turns to slow you down just enough so that you can work through the Hebrew signs phonetically.

Maps can be deceiving – resist the urge to take a shortcut via a 4-digit road
But if you end up on a road with 4 numbers – like the 9778 or the 9779, for example – expect a narrow (read: prepare to scoot to the side for oncoming traffic unless you, yourself, are riding a donkey) road, with more curves and less people.

No matter what road you take, have your camera close at hand. From the car I’ve photographed everything from the landscape to the sunset to the moon to the guy on the donkey to the lady with the wheely crib full of children to the herd of galloping camels to the truck with chickens to the truck with goats to the remarkably understated “Danger! Land mines” sign to the mysterious “!” sign which pretty much sums it all up.

It took me a while to find an explanation for this sign. I found one on the website for the Ministry of Transportation. I ran it through Google Translator. You get the gist:
Death trap
Whom is not set
Special milestone.
Title danger
Notably, the sign No.

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