Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Norway is for driving. And ferries. Benign road signs.

 I was concerned before leaving for Norway, with its long-fingered fjords and the maps showing single lane roads, that a road trip was not going to work well.  Not so.  The online warnings focused on endless switchbacks in the mountains, caught behind trucks, and we did not need to do the highest mountains:  we did that in Switzerland, loved it, and planned this trip to go around, venture not over, necessarily, but explore.  It worked. There are ferries and tunnels, local size and big commercial, and above all, drivers were courteous.

1.  Benign traffic safety signs.

I recall no finger-pointing, you-slow-down harangues on signs, no big numbers for fines. Instead, the human loss you may be about to cause, is quietly, home-like, set forth for your consideration.

Hugs. I like that. This kid deserves an adult male. The adult deserves the kid -- for mutual fun. Fasten your seat belt.
Now: Over the speed limit? Watch a girls face fade, fade away, like her life may, if you go too fast.

Norway's benign road signs. Over fartsgrensa? Over the speed limit?

This graphic showing of the consequences to someone's life, because another disobeyed the speed limit, is far more effective than American highway threats, American preoccupation with punishments, pillories.  Instead, foster quiet, voluntary compliance, appeals to what better natures we may still have.
Norway is for driving so long as you can relax and live within the rules: there are warning signs for pending cameras, and speed limits are enforced by building single lane roads with few break-down places on the side.  One lane means everyone has to go the same speed.  Slower traffic is shunted elsewhere. he impression from the roads management system is this:  Norway is a kindlier country, with efforts to implement "voluntary" compliance rather than tempt the driver to exceed limits, then punish, as here.

2.  Limited lanes.

Look closely at the Over fartsgrensa photo above.  There is no breakdown lane. There are only two lanes, total, one going, one coming.  Rule of tough.  Stay in line. Have your car in repair.  Don't speed. Even main arteries may well be one lane only, with everyone in lock-step on speed.  There is no choice.  No opportunity for road rage, acting out.  Trucks, cars, all  going along like a little train with invisible links.  Minimal oppportunity for going off the beaten track, cars can't just pull over for a sandwich in the cooler, because there may well not be a burm-lane.

3.  Long, long tunnels under mountains and fjords, even with full-size roundabouts inside to whisk you to the town you want.  Ferries. Where cars can't go, frequent ferries can and do.

Here, Dan enjoys the view from our ferry to another, with a hitchhiker hiker we picked up - go ahead -- meet new people -- going our way across the Sognfjord.

4.  Tourist roads.  Useful as guides, but off the track can be just as lovely. Specific tourist roads may be short, such as the Atlantic Road, but it is only 8.72 km long. See ://www.visitnorway.com/en/Articles/Theme/What-to-do/Tour-suggestions/The-Atlantic-road/  There are also tempting tourist trails in the works, see ://www.nordicroads.com/website/index.asp?pageID=237; see also ://www.turistveg.no/.

We avoided high mountains this trip, to stay away from endless switchbacks we enjoyed in Switzerland.  If that is new to you, go ahead, see ://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Norway/Tourist_Traps-Norway-BR-1.html/ 

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