Posted by Michel on 26.02.2010

As a motorcyclist myself, one of the things that stuck in my memory from my trip to Vietnam last year, was how many motorbikes there were, and, more amazingly, how the drivers negotiated traffic. What seemed like total chaos in the beginning, turned out to be a well-oiled system.

Have a look at the video:

Anybody with a ‘western’ driver education would get in trouble here; expecting road users to stick to their side of the road or give way to the right or left.

So why does it work then? I think the answer is simple: Vietnamese understand and appreciate other users on the road. There is very little ‘I am right – you are wrong’ or ‘I am stronger/bigger/more aggressive/faster/flashier/younger/older/etcetera than you, and therefore I have the right of way’ going on there. Everyone slows down and lets other road users get on their way.

How different is this from our western environments! Lately, I have noticed so many traffic signs for behaviour that really could be resolved by applying common sense, or already existing rules.

What about this one:

Give Way in Miller Street, Fitzroy North

This photo was taken in a secondary, build-up, suburban street, where the maximum speed is 50km/h. The ‘slow-down’ points allow for one car passing, emphasising the fact that one is meant to slow down here….. Would I speed up to ‘beat’ the car coming from the other side? No, I would not. Would you? Or would you look at the situation, and then sort out between the two drivers who goes first? And if the other one seems to apply to the ‘I am stronger/bigger/more aggressive/faster/flashier/younger/older/etcetera than you, and therefore I have the right of way’ category, perhaps he should go first then….

Capital City Trail sign

This is an other one: Taken on the Capital City Trail, one of the main cycling routes through Melbourne. Clearly a cycle path, with no cars. So, ‘authorised’ (?) maintenance vehicles use this path. What does this sign mean then? Has it now become the responsibility of the cyclist to be safe? Would the cyclist without that sign demand to cycle through/across/over the maintenance vehicle, because it is on his path? Or should the maintenance crew make sure they create a safe environment when they enter the cyclist’s? And perhaps both groups can work that out between themselves. I promise I will not shout at the maintenance crew when they are on the cycle path, and trust they will look out for me when they are working there.

And finally, this one: A train track crossing on the shared foot/cycle path that leads to the park from where I live.

Northcote – train track crossing

First, I got a bit confused because of the ‘No Entry’ sign on the gate on the left, which seems to be only applicable for the little caged area on the left. The environment clearly said ‘this is a path’ (being a continuation of that foot/bike path and all….. So I had to look out for trains? Thanks for reminding me, I am well known for intentionally getting into life threatening situations! And I could not cycle across? Why not, would that not get me to safety faster than walking??

I would love to hear from our blog readers what you think about this sort of signage, and perhaps you have some interesting examples of nanny signage to show?