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EDITORIAL – 7/11/2013: SIGNS OF MADNESS

Film critics go to a lot of previews some of them in places where they need to park. Some parking signs seem to have been put together by over-zealous bureaucrats. By Andrew L. Urban

This one broke the camel’s back; I’ve long nurtured a hatred for stupid street signs that you can’t read without getting out of your car or off your bike and using magnifying spectacles, but this one in Oxford Street, opposite and up a bit from the Verona cinema (where I was going) symbolises everything that’s wrong with the making of them.

So anxious to control every driving and parking moment of our lives, parking signs are clambering over themselves to shout ‘NO’ at the motorist. It might just as well say “Do not park here – ever.”

While the turbulence of a sign like this that duplicates, overlaps and confuses its message to the motorist is a sign of utter madness, there are so many more examples of stupidity in signage.

Along the Spit Road past the Spit as you drive towards the City, the road is now a clearway at weekends, jammed with folks heading back from Manly and other Northern beaches. The signs that say so are about the size of a house brick, so you can imagine how small the sign writing is. (Which is why nobody takes notice.) Climb up the pole, take down the sign and read it bent over the bonnet of your car, maybe?

Drivers are supposed to get information from these signs; have a look at the signs along Kent Street around the Town Hall section. Drivers need a spotter to read the instructions. Either that or hold up the traffic, trigger road rage and end up in hospital.

After running late trying to read the signs, you find a nearby meter, but the nightmare continues. The meter display window is only legible at a certain angle – which requires a deep, reverential bow, calculated to belittle us. Some meters, like ones in Pyrmont Street, have defiantly invisible displays at any time of day or night, and they are 24/7 meters. Sometimes they work.

Some meters in Marion Street, Leichhardt, are suspiciously fawlty: they keep your coins but refuse to supply a ticket. You’re running late, having spent 15 minutes circling for a spot and 5 minutes feeding the beast, so you cross the road to another meter and pay a second time, just to get going. No signs to warn you about this. It’s madness, I tell you.

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