Experimental no parking signs in LA replace text with graphics

Instead of relying on text to delineate times of no parking, a new design has emerged in Los Angeles:

LA's new proposed parking sign design, inspired by the work of Nikki

Nearly two years later, LA is rolling out a pilot program of signs that may do exactly that. Over the next six months, the city will install 100 new signs around downtown to test a design that condenses a hodgepodge of regulations into one easy-to-read grid.

You might recognize the design. The original concept is the work of Nikki Sylianteng, a Brooklyn designer whose day planner layout blew up on the Internet last year. Her design made the rounds on blogs, garnering attention from commiserating drivers and, evidently, city officials. She’s now working with transportation officials in Vancouver to create new parking signs. She’s also heard from officials in Columbus, Ohio, and some cities overseas. And she heard from Los Angeles councilman Paul Krekorian…

Husting thought Sylianteng’s design was a good concept to run with (Sylianteng wasn’t paid for the project). It smartly transformed a handful of text-heavy restrictions into a color-coded blocks of time that tell you exactly what you need to know: Can I park here? Green means yes, red means no. Subtle diagonal striping helps those who are color blind differentiate between the colors. It was strikingly simple. “I didn’t even consider it would get to this level of the city,” Sylianteng says. “I figured if it ever did someone would say, ‘This is such a naive idea and these are all the reasons why this can’t happen.’”…

As a technological backstop of sorts, the city has been attaching Bluetooth beacons to every new sign erected with the hope developers eventually create an app that makes parking signs irrelevant. Husting calls this “phase two” of LA’s parking overhaul. Imagine pulling up to a parking spot and having your phone simply say “yes” or “no.” Or better yet, having your car tell you. “What we ultimately hope to do—and I know this is still far out in the future—is we want to be able to go ahead and connect with your vehicle,”Husting says. Until then, signs based on Sylianteng’s design would be a big improvement.

It is interesting to think about why certain kinds of road signs do or don’t change much over time. Some become so recognizable that to change them might create all sorts of difficulty. (Imagine redoing the basic stop sign or traffic light.) But, many others could be up for reinterpretation. Here, the shift is away from text to visuals – does this only work now because the visual reigns supreme in American society?

As the final paragraph above suggests, perhaps this is just the last gasp of the parking sign until autonomous vehicles simply communicate with the parking indicators and refuse to let you park in certain places.

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