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Getting cues from "max safe speed" signs


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Do you find that the posted speeds on the "Maximum Safe Speed" signs in your state/area are a good indicator of the relative severity of the curves? Are they consistent? Can you use about the same entry speed for a curve marked 35mph as another marked 35mph five miles down the road?

 

I ask because I was in two states today -- Virginia and West Virginia -- and my observations reinforced what I've noticed for years. In WV, a 35mph curve is a 35mph curve ...almost anywhere in the state. In VA, a 35mph curve may be anything from a true 35mph curve to barely a wiggle in the road. confused.gif

 

Now I certainly don't trust the highway signs to judge my entry speed on an unknown road, but I find I am aware of them. Today in VA there was a 15mph sign on a downhill right hander that I entered like grandpa on a scooter only to find I could've taken it much more quickly. Okay. No big deal. I have no desire to be draggin' pegs today or any other day. Less than two miles along the same road there's another curve marked 15mph. This one is a nasty, declining radius bend that went well beyond 90 degrees to the right. Had I not known the road and assumed that curve was similar to the previous, I'd have gone in way too hot. eek.gif

 

Thoughts? Do you pay attention to these signs?

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I think there is a conspiracy going on with these signs.

How many of you have gone along a road and there will be, say, a 45mph sign on a 65mph bend then a 15mph sign on a 45mph bend followed up by a 25mph sign on a 25mph bend!

This happens a lot around here.....!

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This has been my observation.

All of my twisty ridin', for the last several years, has been in N. Ga. & Eastern Carolinas.

It seems to me that most corners are good for nearly double the posted "recommended speed".

I must emphasize "nearly". I don't use this as a constant, but as I ride, I read the entrance to the corner, & adjust my speed accordingly.

Please note, my riding is agressive, but not that of Rickey Racer.

 

YOMV, of course.

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The only time such signs really catch my attention is when the posted curve speed seems unusually low, as in a '15 mph' curve on a 50 mph road. This usually means a hairpin and that's good to know in advance.

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The only time such signs really catch my attention is when the posted curve speed seems unusually low, as in a '15 mph' curve on a 50 mph road. This usually means a hairpin and that's good to know in advance.

 

Yes, if you aren't carefull, a surprise can jump up on you. The key is to not get complacent with a road you're not familiar with.

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ShovelStrokeEd

First of all, realize that the signs are posted for worst case conditions, usually large trucks. They are in the form of a reccomendation for speed so it is not surprising that you can take a curve with a 25 mph sign at 50. The inconsistancy from state to state and even curve to curve is bothersomoe. I ususally take it as a heads up rather than a guideline for my actual speed.

 

I have found that CA is very good about this, allowing me to add 50% to the speed if I'm having fun and doubling the speed if I want to push a little. Florida hasn't a clue, nor does NY. It does make life interesting sometimes.

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You can ride any road completely without signs if you only go as fast as you can safely see ahead of you. As your vision closes down, progressively slowing down until good vision is available will see you through. I have noticed that most curve signs in Texas are 2X or more conservative, in MOST cases. I also know places with good visibility where 3X the warning sign is just getting to be fun. An unfamiliar road should be treated with respect until it becomes more familiar, even then, how long since you last rode it? What could have happened to it in that time?

 

Frank

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You're right Ed, Florida hasn't a clue, as there aren't any real curves down here.

If it's posted at 45, you can easily take it at 110.

 

Not that I would, mind you.

I'm a responsible rider. grin.gif

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Having just moved back to SoCal from "Far North" CA, I can't comment on the signs 'down here,' but I can tell you without hesitation that the "orange / yellow" curve speed signs in the northern half of CA give you ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE as to the actual safe cornering speed on a motorcycle.

 

The only ones that "mean anything significant" are on Highway 3 and the Mattole Road when they say "10 MPH" -- when you see one of those, THEY MEAN IT. Other than that, they can be either way over cautious or way optimistic and you never know which, which makes them much worse than worthless IMO.

 

Good road reading skills are essential for both fun, and safety up in that neck of the woods.

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I agree with those that have said that Texas is typically a 2x state. When riding Arkansas, I've found that either >>>>>>> or <<<<<<< means a decreasing radius turn is more than likely coming up.

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I found while riding in Canada that the KPH warning signs posted for corners could usually be handled quite well at the same MPH, i.e. a 60 KPH (36MPH) corner at 60 MPH...sure saved me a lot of trouble doing quick math conversions thumbsup.gif

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In SoCal, I've found that when riding at a "brisk" pace, that the first digit of the corner speed sign is a good indicator of what gear I need to be in for the curve. grin.gif

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See this thread on watching your speed. There are better speed cues available than a speedometer and turn markers.

 

Excellent points. I agree completely. Just find it interesting that the various DOTs bother to put ANY numerical reference on the signs if they're not going to make the numbers meaningful. My hat's off to West Virginia DOT ... they seem to have it right. Maybe because they've go SO MANY curves!? thumbsup.gif

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In the North East it is wise to try not to match the speed limit posted before a corner, especially in PA. However my experience in Colorado was that you have a 20/25 mph margin on the posted limit, it makes life much more fun!

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I don't use signs to set my speed, but have noticed that in NY you can pretty much double the posted suggestion most times (though you will be going briskly to do so). HOWEVER, there are enough exceptions to that so that it is an unreliable thing to use, beyond marking the fact a bend is coming up.

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West Virginia is special. Not only are the speed indications consistent and real for a average driver with a average car, the passing zone markings are also realistic. You almost never have to pass on a double yellow. When there is space to pass, it is marked for it. The rest of Mid-Atlantic is no good. The speed indications are almost meaningless, they are so slow. Often there are long straights without any driveways or entrances, and they are double yellow. Well, in that case you gotta do what you gotta do...

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I've noticed the same thing over they years about West Virginia. Although I tend not to rely on state postings, WVA at least has some clue about where they're putting their signs and what they indicate. As Paul said, it's quite consistent.

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This has been my observation.

All of my twisty ridin', for the last several years, has been in N. Ga. & Eastern Carolinas.

It seems to me that most corners are good for nearly double the posted "recommended speed".

The "recommended speed" is set to ensure even a model-T Ford in a rainstorm is still going to be safe.

 

As a guide to any experienced driver, they are useless.

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I use the posted speed signs in a bit different manner. If a corner is posted for 10 or 15 mph, I read it as a 1st gear corner. 20 or 25 mph = 2nd gear, 30 or 35 = 3rd gear. Above that it starts to get fuzzy. Its not foolproof and depending on how agressive or slothish I feel, it doesn't always fit. But it does work most of the time to get me set up for my corners.

 

And yes, IMO different locals will sign differently, some more conservatively that others.

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