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A roadgeek (from road + geek) is an individual involved in "roadgeeking" or "road enthusiasm"—an interest in roads, and especially going on road trips, as a hobby. A person with such an interest is also referred to as a road enthusiast, road buff, roadfan or Roads Scholar, the latter being a play on the term Rhodes Scholar.[failed verification]
Roadgeeks view their interest as an appreciation of engineering and planning feats:
We're interested in all the effort that goes into making roads. The railways in this country get an awful lot of press as great engineering achievements. Roads aren't seen in that way, but it wasn't always so. In the 1950s and 1960s they were part of a brave new era. Back then it was something to get excited about. They actually put people on buses and drove up and down them to have a look...— Steven Jukes
However roadgeeks are not necessarily interested in motor vehicles; there may also be an interest in cartography and map design. Enthusiasts may focus on a single activity related to roads, such as driving the full length of the highway system in a specific area, researching the history, planning and quirks of a particular road or national highway system. Sometimes, road geeks are called "highway historians" for the knowledge and interests.
Even the numbering system can be a subject of deep interest, as Joe Moran describes in his book "On Roads: A Hidden History":
On the online discussion forum of SABRE, the Society for All British Road Enthusiasts (sic), the 1400-odd Sabristi often debate about where the M25 starts and whether it is correctly numbered, or why the motorway from Carlisle to Glasgow is called both the M74 and the A74(M). In road-numbering lore, the absence of pattern—the discovery that there are so many exceptions to rules that the rules might as well not exist—only seems to revivify the search for inner mysteries. Road buffs talk in reverential tones about "David Craig Numbers" - the elegant theory, named after the man who proposed it, that three digit numbers derive from the roads they connect.
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Example activities include:
- Taking road trips for the roads rather than for the destination, sometimes referred to as roadgeeking or Roads Scholaring
- Organizing group tours on historic routes, such as Watling Street, the Great North Road, US Route 66, or the Lincoln Highway, combining road trips with exploring local history
- Comparing the extent of their travels with other enthusiasts, such as the number of Interstate Highway sections that have been wholly traveled.
- Photography of road signs, bridges or various highway artifacts
- Collecting old road maps
- Writing about the history of highways, highway terminology and the design of graphics or fonts to facilitate the work of others.
- Exploring abandoned roads
In 2002, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that road enthusiasm was an Internet phenomenon. There is a Usenet newsgroup, misc.transport.road, where participants discuss all facets of roads and road trips from "construction projects to quirks and inconsistencies in signage". These individuals who anticipated each Rand McNally road atlas release each year found a community of others online who were also interested in roads as a hobby. These communities of people could share photos, swap their thoughts on the highways in their areas and "debate the finer points of interchange design".
Yahoo Groups and Forums
There are several Yahoo Groups dedicated to Roadgeek activities, including the Roadgeek YahooGroup group itself and many regional or special interest groups.
Web based forums are also popular; one of the largest is AARoads Forum.
Started in 1999, the Society for All British and Irish Road Enthusiasts (SABRE), originally known as "Study and Appreciation of the British Roads Experience", is one of the larger and most prominent communities of road enthusiasts online. The organization hosts a large collection of articles and histories of particular roads and terminology, online photo galleries, discussion forums, and an application to overlay and compare historical roadmaps. Although SABRE is primarily an online group, members organize group tours to visit sites of interest.
In 2006, a board called "Road" (Chinese: 公路板) in the PTT Bulletin Board System, which is a Taiwanese forum, was established. Because some Taiwanese road enthusiasts didn't know how to use a terminal or BBS reader to access it, the web forum Taiwan Highway Club (Chinese: 公路邦; literally, "Highway State") was started in 2008; it contains subforums allowing users to discuss road policies, and to add news about, and post pictures of, highways. However, since the online community service by Pixnet was discontinued in 2012, the site moved to their own website.
Relationship with governments
In Taiwan, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications' Directorate General of Highways (公路總局) has held occasional Road Fan Conferences (公路迷座談會) since 2011 to allow roadfans and highway transportation-related organizations to make suggestions to the government.
Roadgeek websites (partial)
- Brad's Australian Highways Page; founded September 19, 1999
- CBRD (Chris's British Road Directory)
- Glasgow's Motorways Fan & Info Site
- Great Lakes Roads Yahoo! Group (US); founded February 16, 2002
- Irish Roads forum on boards.ie
- The King's Highway (Ontario, Canada highways)
- Kurumi's Field Guide to Interchanges
- misc.transport.road (Usenet); charter approved November 27, 1995
- misc.transport.road FAQ
- Northern Ireland Road Site
- Ozroads: The Australian Roads Website; founded July 13, 2003
- Pathetic Motorways (UK)
- Roadgeek Yahoo! Group; founded April 25, 1999
- Roads UK
- Society for All British and Irish Road Enthusiasts (SABRE), founded August 13, 1999
- County collecting
- Wear, Ben (December 12, 2004). "Road to Future or a Dead End". Austin American-Statesman. Archived from the original on September 5, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2007.
- Gupta, Lila Das (January 17, 2005). "Never Mind the Trainspotters". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
- Miller, Matthew (February 22, 2009). "Looking Back: I-496 Construction, a Complicated Legacy". Lansing State Journal. pp. 1A, 8A.
- Moran, Joe (2009). On Roads: A Hidden History (Hardcover ed.). London: Profile Books. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-84668-052-6.
- "My Clinched Freeways". Mike the Actuary's Musings. Archived from the original on August 21, 2008. Retrieved November 16, 2007.
- Kelly, John (February 21, 2005). "A Long Way to Go for a Refund". Washington Post. p. C11. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
- "Roadgeek Fonts". Michael Adams' Blog. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
- Lamb, William (September 22, 2002). "'Road geeks' ramp up their hobby on the information superhighway". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. pp. C1, C5. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
- Thomson, Robert (February 27, 2014). "Map rage: Navigating Google's revised way-finding system". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
- "Society: About Us". Society for All British Road Enthusiasts. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- Milmo, Cahal (October 29, 2004). "Round the Bend? How We Became a Nation of Roadies". The Independent. London. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
- Greenacre, Simon (September 10, 2008). "Society for All British Road Enthusiasts". Total Vauxhall. Gloucester: A & S Publishing. ISSN 1474-1393. Archived from the original on June 19, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
- 公告 公路板開了~ (in Chinese). Road board of PTT Bulletin Board System. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
- 【公路邦】成立 (in Chinese). Road board of PTT Bulletin Board System. Retrieved September 30, 2011.(in Chinese)
- "公路邦 > 討論區首頁". 公路邦. Archived from the original on September 4, 2011. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
- "官民合作‧大道開闊 公路總局舉辦第二次公路迷座談會". Archived from the original on April 5, 2016.
- Herron, Kenneth (November 27, 1995). "RFD unmoderated group misc.transport.misc" (TXT). Internet FAQ Archives. Advameg. Retrieved August 16, 2009.