Climbing Lane; Madiba shirt

Lynne Murphy M.L.Murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Wed Apr 28 18:54:43 UTC 2004

Barry Popik (I think) said:

>> CLIMBING LANE--On the way to the airport in Windhoek, I noticed a
>> "CLIMBING LANE."  I was told that this is a lane for "passing."  So
>> why don't they call it a "passing lane"?  The driver didn't know.
>> OED?

One reason not to call it a 'passing lane' is that 'passing' isn't the
normal term for this outside N America.  It's usually called 'overtaking'
in British/SA English.  That doesn't answer the 'why climbing' question...

I don't remember the term from my years in SA.

If you look up 'climbing lane' with .za domains in Google, you get about a
dozen hits.   One of them says that using a climbing lane involves speed
reduction of 10-20 kph.  This means it can't be  a passing lane in the US
sense, but a lane to be passed in.  There are three possibilities for what
it is, then:

- a lane that's added to the left of the main lane (i.e., on the
outside--SAns drive on the left--that is, if they're following the traffic
laws) for a short distance to alleviate traffic congestion

- a short pull-off, as you see on single-track mountain roads

- a hard shoulder (it's SAn driving etiquette to drive on the shoulder if
the person behind you wants to go faster (which can be signaled by flashing
the headlights)

I think it's most likely the first--these are not uncommon on the
medium-size highways.

Just searched it again without the .za domain and find it's in use in
Washington state, Canada, and no doubt lots of other  places, but I don't
have time to go through them...


Dr M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics

Department of Linguistics and English Language
Arts B133
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN
>>From UK:  (01273) 678844
Outside UK: +44-1273-678844

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