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Old 08-25-2015, 05:47 AM   #1
Arlington
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Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

"All road signs are written by people who already know where they are going and how they would get there.

The roadsign-maker's challenge is to write what they would want to know (as a visitor) as if they didn't know what they know (as a native).

Boston's bad street signs reflect either a complete lack of empathy for how little visitors know and what their desires may be, or they perfectly reflect that our neighborhood streets are designed to repel visitors generally."

Discuss.
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Old 08-25-2015, 07:26 AM   #2
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

The bicycle wayfinding scheme that was put in downtown is much better than any of the signage for cars!

http://bostoncompletestreets.org/wha...gets-underway/

It's interesting that the destinations are different on the bike signs than the ones for cars, as you can see in this photo - the sign in the background directs cars to Downtown Crossing and the Convention Center, but the bike signs point to five other destinations...

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Old 08-25-2015, 09:03 AM   #3
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

Nothing tops the "New York" interstate sign at the pike onramp in copley square.

Seriously...all it says is "New York"
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Old 08-25-2015, 09:25 AM   #4
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

No, nothing beats the intersection of Somerville Ave, Medford St and McGrath Highway a little west of Union Square. Pretty major intersection, yes? Note the complete and total lack of any directional signage whatsoever. There's one tiny little Medford St sign and that's all.
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Old 08-25-2015, 12:32 PM   #5
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

Quote:
Boston's bad street signs reflect either a complete lack of empathy for how little visitors know and what their desires may be, or they perfectly reflect that our neighborhood streets are designed to repel visitors generally."
Yes. I doubt that's going to change anytime soon. It's a mark of Masshole pride.
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Old 09-08-2015, 01:28 PM   #6
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

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Originally Posted by BussesAin'tTrains View Post
Yes. I doubt that's going to change anytime soon. It's a mark of Masshole pride.
Yes, it's the provincialism and it permeates throughout the state. I've always been amazed at the lack of cross street identification when you come to the end of a road somewhere, as if you should exactly where said road ends and what street bisects it.

I'd also add that I would suspect that whatever company makes street signs does not have an influential lobbyist or else the state would have shoved increased signage down the throats of the cities and towns. I know way back the state made road signs, but I assume that's not the case anymore. Does anyone know?
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Old 09-08-2015, 01:52 PM   #7
Arlington
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

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Originally Posted by HalcyonEra View Post
I've always been amazed at the lack of cross street identification when you come to the end of a road somewhere, as if you should exactly where said road ends and what street bisects it.
Mass seems particularly bad at naming both streets at an intersection. If we had a Hollywood&Vine or a Broad&Wall, Haight&Ashbury you can be 90% sure it'd only have a sign for Vine or Wall or Haight and not the other (or vice versa)

Plenty of times coming off a small cross street, it is the cross street that has its name on the intersection and you never know which "big street" you are being offered--and then you can drive on that big street for 5 or 10 blocks and see only the cross street's signs and never be told that you are on "Broadway" or "High Street" or whatever.


...and notice anything else in these? BLOCK NUMBERS!




Meanwhile, at Tremont and Boylston, no block numbers, but about the same amount of space given over to the Great Seal of the City of Boston.
"Dear visitor: you don't need to know where you are, what you need to know is that Boston was CONDITA in 1630 and got its CIVITATIS REGIMINE in 1822, and we got sailing ships and oak leaf clusters, so F*** You"
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Last edited by Arlington; 09-08-2015 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 09-08-2015, 03:15 PM   #8
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

Quote:
Originally Posted by HalcyonEra View Post
I'd also add that I would suspect that whatever company makes street signs does not have an influential lobbyist or else the state would have shoved increased signage down the throats of the cities and towns. I know way back the state made road signs, but I assume that's not the case anymore. Does anyone know?
I'm pretty sure all the street signs are made by the Boston Transportation Department in their sign shop on Southampton St.
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Old 09-08-2015, 07:01 PM   #9
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

I miss having street signs ... in the UK I think they're ashamed of them.
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Old 09-08-2015, 08:42 PM   #10
Joel N. Weber II
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

State Senator Jehlen has talked about wanting to pass a law that would require signs at intersections showing street names, but at least as of many years ago when I last heard about this, the general excuse was that people didn't want to spend the money.
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Old 09-08-2015, 09:02 PM   #11
Joel N. Weber II
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bus stop signs

There are a bunch of things that I find not well thought out about the bus stop signs the MBTA uses:

At least some of them say ``no standing''. Apparently you're supposed to know that this refers to some very obscure jargon that applies to motor vehicles (which I'm not even convinced every driver understands), and it apparently doesn't mean that if you're waiting to board a bus that you're not allowed to stand there as a pedestrian.

The bus stop signs have a list of the routes that stop there, but the list is high up. Who is supposed to be reading the route list on these signs? If the purpose of the route list is to tell the CT1 and CT2 drivers where to not stop, why do they bother listing the routes on the signs at stops on streets not served by the CT1 / CT2? And if the purpose is to tell passengers what buses they can expect to board at this stop, why are they not close to eye level (possibly eye level of the typical wheelchair user would be best; I can always bend over to read a sign that's two feet below my eye level, wheelchair users can't so easily move their eyes up two feet as needed).

Are the bus stop signs designed by someone who carefully determined that every pedestrian always reaches a bus stop by walking along the sidewalk in the same direction that automobiles travel in the nearest travel lane? Observe that they are only printed on one side. Somerville has also been known to mount the bus stop signs on streetlight poles along Highland Ave, which mostly seems like a good idea in terms of saving an extra metal signpost, until a passenger is walking along in the direction that in the mind of the designers of these signs no passenger would ever walk, and that passenger walks right past the sign at the front of the bus stop (because the lamppost is thick enough that it makes the shape of the sign invisible in the direction where it is not intended to be readable) and waits at the rear generic sign and then is confused for a second when the bus does not stop with the front of the bus near the sign where the passenger was waiting.

Another minor bit of confusion: it's tempting to think that the front sign is next to where the front door of the bus should appear, especially since that tends to be what actually happens with near side bus stops, but it doesn't work that way for far side bus stops where the sign is a marker for where the back bumper of a parked car is allowed to be. For stops that are not near side at an intersection, there might be some minor benefit from separating out the ``wait here'' / ``stop here'' sign from the parking boundary sign.
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Old 09-09-2015, 05:06 AM   #12
Matthew
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

A friend from SF was visiting NYC at the same time I was there one day. He asked me: why am I not allowed to stand anywhere?

Apparently this "No Standing" business is some sort of East Coast lingo. It's not used elsewhere.
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Old 09-09-2015, 06:39 AM   #13
Arlington
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

In Maryland Drivers Ed, we learned a 3-tier distinction:

Stopping=What a bus does at a bus stop. what taxis do when a passenger gets in or gets out; obvious passenger activity; any "not moving with traffic" brake lights by default;hazard flashers if you shift into park & take foot off brake

Standing=what taxis do at a taxi stand;* driver stays behind wheel; idling;aka parking-with-driver; hazard flashers activated if needed.

Parking=what you do in a parking space Any time there is no driver at the wheel;

So bus stops ("no standing") are legal for actively dropping or taking a passenger into a car or taxi, but no vehicle may stand there (except for buses between runs)

"Active loading & unloading" can occur regardless of stop/stand/park status.


*Not that any of us in the Rouse Company's 'burbs of Howard County, MD, had ever *seen* a taxi stand, I'd be pretty sure we had to have the concept explained to us.
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Last edited by Arlington; 09-09-2015 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 09-09-2015, 01:43 PM   #14
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

I had drivers' ed in Ohio many decades ago, and "Stopping / Standing / Parking" were well enumerated concepts.
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Old 09-09-2015, 06:12 PM   #15
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
Mass seems particularly bad at naming both streets at an intersection. If we had a Hollywood&Vine or a Broad&Wall, Haight&Ashbury you can be 90% sure it'd only have a sign for Vine or Wall or Haight and not the other (or vice versa)

Plenty of times coming off a small cross street, it is the cross street that has its name on the intersection and you never know which "big street" you are being offered--and then you can drive on that big street for 5 or 10 blocks and see only the cross street's signs and never be told that you are on "Broadway" or "High Street" or whatever.


...and notice anything else in these? BLOCK NUMBERS!




Meanwhile, at Tremont and Boylston, no block numbers, but about the same amount of space given over to the Great Seal of the City of Boston.
"Dear visitor: you don't need to know where you are, what you need to know is that Boston was CONDITA in 1630 and got its CIVITATIS REGIMINE in 1822, and we got sailing ships and oak leaf clusters, so F*** You"
Arlington -- you forgot the "as a City upon a Hill" of the Reverend [& future Gov.of Massachusetts Bay Company] John Winthop

Quote:
A Modell of Christian Charity
(1630)

Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society
(Boston, 1838), 3rd series 7:31-48.)

Hanover Historical Texts Project
Scanned by Monica Banas, August 1996. Not yet proofread.


WRITTEN ON BOARD THE ARBELLA, ON THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.
[Page 33] By the Hon. John Winthrop Esqr. In his passage (with a great company of Religious people, of which Christian tribes he was the Brave Leader and famous Governor from the Island of Great Brittaine to New-England in the North America. Anno 1630.

CHRISTIAN CHARITIE.

A Modell hereof.

GOD ALMIGHTY in his most holy and wise providence, hath soe disposed of the condition of' mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some poore, some high and eminent in power and dignitie; others mean and in submission.....

Now the onely way to avoyde this shipwracke, and to provide for our posterity, is to followe the counsell of Micah, to doe justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, wee must be knitt together, in this worke, as one man. Wee must entertaine each other in brotherly affection. Wee must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of other's necessities. Wee must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekeness, gentlenes, patience and liberality. Wee must delight in eache other; make other's conditions our oune; rejoice together, mourne together, labour and suffer together, allwayes haueving before our eyes our commission and community in the worke, as members of the same body.....

Wee shall finde that the God of Israell is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when hee shall make us a prayse and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "the Lord make it likely that of New England." For wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill. The eies of all people are uppon us. Soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our God in this worke wee haue undertaken, and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. Wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of God, and all professors for God's sake. Wee shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into curses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whither wee are a goeing.
The forgoing might have something to do with the Boston attitude
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Old 09-09-2015, 10:47 PM   #16
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

Yes, the City fabricates its own signs, but the seal was removed a few years ago for ease of manufacturing. For durability, they had switched to placing a green film (with letters cut out) over a reflective white panel. Before, the seal and letters were basically stickers on a green panel. It was almost impossible to cut the seal out of the green film for the new process.
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Old 10-11-2015, 09:16 PM   #17
Joel N. Weber II
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Copley I-90 Westbound On-Ramp Sign

Quote:
Originally Posted by CSTH View Post
Nothing tops the "New York" interstate sign at the pike onramp in copley square.

Seriously...all it says is "New York"
When I look at that sign, what I think it says primarily is ``I-90 WEST'', with ``New York'' being a redundant way of expressing the ``west'' part when people confuse east with west. (And of course, it has the Mass Pike logo, which my brain discards as irrelevant when trying to identify the useful information on the sign; the Mass Pike is the subset of I-90 that happens to be in Massachusetts.)

If you were made dictator in charge of redesigning that sign to be as good as it could be, what would you make it look like?

(That sign is also interesting in that it is an Interstate Highway on-ramp sign in what is probably a much more pedestrian friendly area than most places with Interstate Highway on-ramp signs. (I can't think of any example of another I-90 on-ramp in an area that is at least as pedestrian friendly as Copley Square; if someone else knows of an example of such, I'd be interested to know what it is.) The signs on the Interstate Highways themselves need to be readable by people who are typically going by at 65 MPH or so, and it wouldn't surprise me if the on-ramp signs use the same exact dimensions as the signs on the highways themselves.)
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Old 10-11-2015, 09:30 PM   #18
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Bus Stop Signs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
In Maryland Drivers Ed, we learned a 3-tier distinction:

Stopping=What a bus does at a bus stop. what taxis do when a passenger gets in or gets out; obvious passenger activity; any "not moving with traffic" brake lights by default;hazard flashers if you shift into park & take foot off brake

Standing=what taxis do at a taxi stand;* driver stays behind wheel; idling;aka parking-with-driver; hazard flashers activated if needed.

Parking=what you do in a parking space Any time there is no driver at the wheel;

So bus stops ("no standing") are legal for actively dropping or taking a passenger into a car or taxi, but no vehicle may stand there (except for buses between runs)

"Active loading & unloading" can occur regardless of stop/stand/park status.


*Not that any of us in the Rouse Company's 'burbs of Howard County, MD, had ever *seen* a taxi stand, I'd be pretty sure we had to have the concept explained to us.
I somehow managed to end up under the impression that in the post-BCIL settlement timeframe, the state legislature passed a law saying that even active loading / unloading of non-bus vehicles is not supposed to happen in bus stops. (But now I'm not sure if I'm actually understanding that part correctly.)

I think the near side bus stop sign for the 83 heading toward Russell Field on Somerville Ave at Mossland has ``no stopping'' and mention of a $100 fine printed on it, and the far side sign at that intersection has the old ``no standing'' language. (It seems to be the case that they're confused about which side the bus stop is supposed to be on and managed to end up with bus stop signs on both sides; maybe that makes up for the lack of a front sign listing the route number for the 87 stop on Elm St opposite Porter St for buses going to Lechmere, or something.)

It does seem like replacing all of the ``no standing'' bus stop signs at some point might be appropriate, although I think before that happens it would be a good idea for someone to think through what information each possible user of the signs wants to be getting, and how to most effectively convey that.

(Also, I somehow managed to end up under the impression that in Massachusetts, you're never supposed to use your four way flashers unless your vehicle is broken.)
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Old 10-13-2015, 04:57 PM   #19
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Re: Street Signs and Helping People Navigate

Somerville has a a multimodal Wayfinding Plan proposal that looks like it has been lingering for a while. This is just an RFP fact sheet so pretty sketchy on the details but if it ever got done it could be a good example for the region. You see good wayfinding signs here and there marking out Boston's bike routes but there never seem to be enough of them.
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