Tuesday, May 27, 2008

To hell with traffic signs

This CNN story from back in September 2007 tells of a German community testing a new concept: one where cyclists, vehicles and pedestrian traffic share the same space. The sidewalks have been reduced in height to street-level, and traffic signs have been removed to ease congestion. The problem, they say, is that there are too many road signs. The solution: take them all down.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Relic Hunting in Joliet, Illinois

Here's a photo a friend of mine shot of me while I was taking a picture of an old stop sign we found in Joliet. After we put the final touches on Roadside Relic on a Friday in February, we spent all day Saturday shooting relics in the area. We got a lot of good stuff that weekend, and I'll soon be posting a lot of new photos at roadsiderelic.com.

The letters in "STOP" and borders were embossed, and the sign even had the horizontal lines above and below "STOP." That makes me think that this was, at one time, a yellow stop sign. It's non-reflective and is tucked underneath a train bridge near downtown.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Yellow Stop Sign Find

I was cruising around Fort Wayne on Sunday taking pictures for Roadside Relic when this yellow stop sign caught my eye. If it wasn't for the embossed letters on the back of the sign, I would have totally missed it. So I did a U-turn on Coliseum Blvd. S. and pulled into the parking lot of the old International Harvester complex. The sign is rusty, bent up and needs some care, but it is a really cool relic. This "Stop - Thru Highway" sign at one time guarded traffic from the streetcars that ran down the middle of Coliseum (known back then by another street name). Hopefully, this sign will be around for many more years, and I am surprised that it has made it this long.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Nothing funny about quirky stop sign campaign

The Illinois Department of Transportation wasn't amused by the city of Oak Lawn's humorous attempt to cut down on speeding. Back in September, the city posted satirical STOP signs with messages like "WHOAAA" underneath the federally-approved, traditional stop signs. Several months and $1,700 later, the DOT has ordered the signs removed.

IDOT stated in a letter that the signs violate the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the instructional bible for all things transportation safety-related. There are several areas in which the supplemental signs can be considered in violation, including:

* Authority for Placement of Traffic Control Devices states that traffic control devices should be "placed only as authorized by a public authority or the official having jurisdiction..." Not sure if the mayor qualifies or not, as the city's department of public works usually handles putting up and taking down signs. (This is the reason that many of us sign collectors run into so much governmental red tape when we try to legally obtain discarded signs and signals from the street department. The DOT does not want ordinary citizens erecting discarded signs all over the city. I'd love to put up a NO PARKING sign in front of my house so that neighbors don't block the view from my front window.)

* Placement and Operation of Traffic Control Devices states that "unnecessary traffic control devices should be removed." The approved STOP sign alone should do the trick (although it apparently isn't working on its own, which is why Oak Lawn is in this debacle to begin with). But the MUTCD also states that too much of a good thing - in this case, multiple STOP signs - can be highly ineffective.

* Uniformity of Traffic Control Devices states that all signs should conform to the guidelines outlined in the Standard Highway Signs manual - a thick book of blueprints of traffic signs. This is extra sensitive when it deals with the wording on a STOP sign, which has a unique shape and color to make it one of the most recognizable symbol in the world.

I can see both sides of the argument: The mayor attempted to come up with a unique and eye-catching way of slowing speeders... I'm in marketing and understand the effectiveness of a brilliant campaign. At the same time, IDOT must uphold the regulations outlined in the MUTCD and slap the hands of those who don't.

This really demonstrates the DOT's low tolerance for humor when it comes to STOP signs, and strict policies overall. This dry personality problem is not exclusive to just this government body (When was the last time you had a good, fun chat with someone who works at your local license branch? Really, that long ago??).

But, they are just doing their jobs, and I am sure that they are a fun bunch of drunken party people once they're outside of the office.