This sign is wrong:
This sign is right:
Both signs are a few hundred meters apart, on southbound 427, just south of the 401.
What’s the difference?
Apart from the colour and the number of street names on each?
Hint: It has to do with the yellow band at the bottom.
The international convention for yellow bands on highway signs is that the options listed on such a sign are the ONLY ones available to you.
Where they are used properly on Ontario highways is when they identify a lane that is about to become an exit ramp.
If you’re in this lane, you’re exiting.
If you don’t want to exit, you shouldn’t be in this lane, and you better move over as quickly as you can safely do so.
And therefore, inherently safe.
That’s what the second (blue) sign indicates. If you’re in this lane, you MUST exit onto Holiday Drive.
But the top (green) sign suggests that if you follow either of the two lanes marked with the black arrows, you MUST exit on one of Holiday Drive, Burnhamthorpe Road or Eva Road.
Again, the yellow band signifies the MUST component.
But that’s not the case at all.
All the top sign means is that you’re entering the collectors lanes. You CAN choose one of the three exits listed, but you don’t HAVE to. You can keep going southbound in the 427 collectors.
Why this matters was pointed out to me vividly some years back, where the westbound Gardiner expands from three (or four) lanes into Express and Collector sets of lanes, just west of Park Lawn Road.
I saw a BIG out-of-province commercial bus approaching this split. All of a sudden, he lunged left, crossing about three lanes of traffic to wrench the rig back into the Express lanes.
He - and the rest of us on the road at the time - were damned lucky there wasn’t a major collision.
I couldn’t read the bus driver’s mind, nor did I chase him down for an interview.
But I think my speculation about what went on is pretty close to the reality - I’m thinking he saw a sign similar to the green one on top here which reads “Islington Avenue / Kipling Avenu", he realised he didn’t want any of those, and because the yellow band implied he HAD to take one of those options, he swerved to avoid getting onto an undesired off-ramp.
(Wasn’t that the plot, such as it was, for 'Bonfire of the Vanities'? Ranks right up there with the worst books and worst movies ever made. But I digress…)
If the sign also included “Thru Collector Lanes" or some such, the yellow band wouldn’t be so misleading.
Now, anyone who has driven the 401 more than two or three times soon figures this out.
But one of the essential points of good engineering and design is that it be instantly intuitive.
Put another way, you shouldn’t have to rely on ‘local knowledge’ to be safe on our roads. We should welcome visitors, not put them through mazes.
Or darn-near cause their busses to mow down a bunch of us.
That’s also why we have standardized signage systems, so people understand what they mean without having to think unduly hard to decipher them.
So, why don’t we follow standards?
I’ve got other beefs about our highway signage too. Stay tuned.
And send me your pet peeves as well.
Oh - the green and blue colours on the above signs? Most of you probably know already that the green signs are for the express lanes, the blue signs for the collectors.
That’s one standard Ontario does seem to maintain.
Oh, another thing - I took those pictures with my car well and truly stopped off the shoulder of the highway.