When parking signs are hard to understand, the city rakes it in
It has us wondering, after readers provided us with examples of parking signs that are hard to figure out, following our Aug. 7 column on contradictory signs that resulted in many improperly issued tickets.
On Aug. 21 we reported on signs on Carlaw Ave. that a reader who wanted to park on a Saturday night found confusing. He ended up with a parking ticket and sent us a photo of the signs, asking us for our opinion on whether the signs indicated Saturday night parking was prohibited.
We examined his photo and found it easy enough to conclude that parking was indeed prohibited on Saturday nights, but we knew ahead of time to look for the restriction, since he’d already told us about his ticket.
Drivers who looked at the signs after dark, perhaps while distracted and in a hurry, might not interpret it the same way and end up paying the price.
Perhaps we were too kind in our interpretation, but a lot of readers weren’t. Of the 79 comments from readers posted to our online column, many said we were an idiot for not seeing what was so obvious to them.
“Learn to read,” said David Sullivan. “It’s pretty obvious what it means. Literacy is obviously not a requirement to be a Star journalist.”
Denis Toronto said it was a “stupid article. The signs are pretty clear,” while another reader said “Duh! Why is this a story?”
The geniuses who quickly spotted the restrictions began the exercise the same way we did when we examined the reader’s photo: Knowing that a ticket was issued on the basis of something on one of the signs.
But it might not be so easy if they were looking up at the sign after dark, while distracted and 10 minutes late for a meeting, trying to figure it out.
The point is that the city could and should put a lot more effort into making parking signs that are simple and easy to understand. Not everyone is blessed with the intelligence of the readers who weighed in our lack of same.
We suggested alterations to the signs to the city official we dealt with, but he replied that it would be too much information.
That doesn’t seem to have been a consideration when the signs were created.
The final word goes to Ivan Nano, who believes many parking signs are intended to be confusing, an opinion shared by a lot of readers: “Why would they change it? At $40 per ticket, the city has no incentive to change it. Plus, has a government ever admitted it is wrong? This is the parking equivalent of a speed trap.”