Germans have a reputation for being orderly. Even when traffic
accumulates on German roads, there’s a system in place to keep the
order: the Reißverschlusssystem.
This word means “zipper
system”, but it has nothing to do with the system that keeps your
clothes together. This type of “zipper system” is used to merge two
lanes into one when there is a lot of traffic.
you’re in stop-and-go traffic on a major road. Another road merges into
yours. During normal traffic conditions, you would continue driving and
have the right of way. When traffic is heavy, however, you would use the
Reißverschlusssystem - a system of orderly turn-taking that
allows two lanes of traffic to merge into one. In this system, cars from
both lanes take their turns moving forward and give way to the car in
the other lane (first one from the left lane, then the right, then the
left again). This creates a pattern that resembles the interlocking
teeth of a zipper, thus the terminology.
The zipper system
allows the smooth transition from two lanes into one. Without the zipper
system, traffic from the main road would continue driving and cars from
the merging lane would struggle to get in. This system only works if
cars begin to merge in the spot where the two lanes become one (the
start of the zipper). When cars merge too soon, it disrupts the zipper
system. In order for this process to be smooth and without the
stop-and-go, cars must also travel at relatively similar speeds.
The Reißverschlusssystem is used in other countries as well,
but Germany is unique because you will actually see street signs
ordering the implementation of the Reißverschlusssystem. So for
our American friends traveling to Germany, make sure you remember this
word if you plan to rent a car! Don’t be that person who steps on the
the accelerator when it’s your turn to give way to a merging car.
HARDKNOTT PASS, LAKE DISTRICT, ENGLAND - photography: James Green - text: Julia LaPalme - Motorcyclist May / June 2017
“Snaking its way through the verdant hills of Lake District National Park between Eskdale and the Duddon Valley, Hardknott Pass is a favorite of motorcyclist, sports-car drivers, and cyclists in and around Cumbria, England. Hardknott owes its exciting course to the Romans, who first paved this route in AD 110. Looking west from the summit at over 1,200 feet, the Isle of Man is visible on clear days. Sections of the road have a 33-percent grade, making Hardknott one of the two steepest roads in England. As the summer months are the busiest, early morning or late evening are the best times to ride this challenging strip of tarmac.”