Saturday, April 19, 2008

Some Israeli Kvetching About Traffic

Opinions are mixed as to the quality of the Kosher for Passover Burger Ranch products. I have heard their buns described as "super-tasty" and better than the regular ones to tasting like they're "made out of spray foam insulation."

Israeli traffic requires some significant getting used to. Yellow lights last maybe 2-4 seconds; you slow down instead once the green light starts blinking. Nobody uses turn signals and every highway branches off in a "Y" shape instead of having a decent American off-ramp (at least I haven't hit so many roundabouts yet). Also, the speed limits are either 50 km/h or 100 km/h depending on whether a road is a major highway or not, but I am completely unable to tell the difference and the prevailing speed of traffic is not helpful.

Also, who designed the curves on these roads? When there is a speed limit sign, such as one reading 50, that is the absolute maximum speed for the curve or one will go spinning off the road (possibly why Israelis can't stay in their lanes when on curves).

The signs are trilingual, but like where I live in DC, most of the intersections give end points which are super-unhelpful. I-495 in Maryland splits into two directions: "Richmond" and "Silver Spring," despite the fact that I-495 is a loop (and doesn't actually go to Richmond) and most travelers want to go to neither of those places. So, regularly, I have to figure out whether I'm heading to Tel Aviv instead of Haifa, when I in fact want to be in neither of those places.

Finally, Israeli cars are regularly equipped with a keypad ignition lock as an anti-theft mechanism, as if I were Jason Statham in The Transporter. This is far less cool than it sounds, as repeatedly entering a five-digit combination, only to turn the key and hear the flailing of the starter that means that one failed to start the rental car, is not action-hero material.

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