November 28, 2007
Friendly Gestures on the International Roads
In France, there are a lot of motorcycles. When cars pull to the right a bit to let a motorcyclist fit past in the middle of the road, the rider very often lifts one leg away from the bike in a gesture of thanks to the driver after they've passed. We experienced this living there in 2005-6.
Here in England, the roads are typically very narrow, fitting only one car going in each direction, with no extra room for parking. Nonetheless, people do consistently park along such roads, on either side, facing any direction (legally), and the moving cars are faced with a gauntlet to run, without hitting any cars coming the opposite direction, though there's only the room left for one car at a time. This results in people "giving way" to each other, and drivers very often then raise a hand from the steering wheel in a friendly gesture to thank the one who gave way and waited for the other to pass, just before disappearing from frontal view and moving off into the side-mirror view.
I don't remember any particular friendly gestures often occurring on the roads in the U.S. I would suppose this is because the roads are so much wider there that no one needs to give way to each other. There is actually room to park AND drive, most of the time. Do you see frequently repeated friendly gestures on the roads where you live?
November 28, 2007 | Permalink
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Friendly Gestures on the International Roads:
Hi Katherine, I do know that even in California when traffic was bad enough to line up cars past entrances, driveways and even other streets someone would often wait to let the waiting car into the line. This typically results in a wave of thanks.
Another thing of note is that here in the States ALL motorcyclists greet each other with a quick wave typically in the form of pointing, waving or occasionally the old V peace sign. As you don't want to have a hand off the grip for long you probably never noticed it. This is done with the left hand as its the one nearest the passing cyclist and the hand that is not on the throttle. I would imagine this posing a problem in countries where motorists drive on the WRONG side of the road ;) as this would be the throttle hand for the biker. I wonder if the lifted leg (like a dog at a hydrant?) is the solution to this? Thanks for the amusing thoughts your post prompted this a.m. :D
Posted by: randall | Nov 28, 2007 3:00:07 PM
It doesn't look like a dog at a hydrant - I know I didn't describe it very well. It's more like stretching their leg, extending it forward. Not lifting it up towards the sky...but I can see why the image was conjured in your mind! Glad it brought a smile.
Posted by: Katherine | Nov 28, 2007 5:32:30 PM
I haven't posted on your blog in a while, but I've been enjoying your English adventure. Although, I do miss hearing from Montpellier. ;-)
In Texas, drivers often wave at each other out of thanks - for yielding or for allowing another car to pass on a two-lane road. And occasionally, on country roads, drivers will wave when passing in opposite directions. Just a friendly "howdy-do." I think it comes from the "Drive Texas Friendly" signs that used to be posted on all the roadways. We see this friendliness less and less since the signs were removed, but we blame it on Californians. Go figure.
Posted by: Jennifer | Nov 29, 2007 4:22:27 AM
It may not happen as often here in CA, but I would say someone thanks me by waving a couple times a month. I wave at people to thank them for letting me in. Man I don't envy you driving on those narrow roads, eeek.
Posted by: Helen | Nov 29, 2007 9:01:46 PM
Katherine, you write posts that compel me to comment more than any other blogger I read! In Japan, where drivers are very polite, and you rarely hear a horn honk, but the roads are very crowded, drivers turn on their emergency blinkers for a couple of blinks as a "thank you" when they are let in. It is such a custom here that if someone doesn't give you a blink when you let them in, it is hard not to get offended. We also have the very narrow roads, where people park on the side and you have to zigzag in and out, keeping your eye out for cars coming the opposite way who also may be zigging and zagging. Even on larger four lane roads, the far left lane (we drive on the left, as you do in England) often has cars parked, which renders one of the driving lanes virtually unusable. Japan passed a law to severely fine those cars ($150 for one parking incident), but as many businesses have no parking, people still risk the fine. Also, delivery trucks have to supply those businesses, or the economy will come crashing down. Japan is masterful at "on-time delivery" which means that stores don't have to waste much space on stock that won't sell today - but it also means lots of delivering, all the time. So it is good that Japanese drivers are polite!
Posted by: Andrea | Dec 3, 2007 1:56:37 AM
Thanks for all the comments, Randall, Jennifer, Helen and Andrea!
Andrea, that's interesting to hear about the blinkers used as a thank you. We have the same thing with the four lane roads having the outer lanes used as parking - only here in England it's totally legal! We really have to look ahead to see whether the lane will be blocked, and on some roads one just has to stay in the center lanes. Many of the businesses here likewise have no parking of their own. To go to the post office in our village, I have to park on the other side of the street behind some buildings in a general parking lot, and walk up a lane between the buildings and cross the busy street. Fortunately there is a pedestrian crossing with a button to press to stop the traffic. Glad to hear the drivers in Japan are so polite :-)
Posted by: Katherine | Dec 3, 2007 6:09:02 PM