One of the most common complaints I hear about this city, from both residents and visitors, is about our poor signage. Poor signage contributes to driver distraction and accidents when drivers are trying to figure out when to exit an arterial roadway, rather than paying attention to the traffic around them.
In other major cities, arterial roadways generally have overhead signs directing traffic as to when they will exit to their destination. For example, an overhead might read, “next exit to Disneyland, 2 miles.” As you get closer, another overhead will say, “next exit Disneyland.” Why couldn’t the City put up a sign on Attridge Drive that says, “Preston Crossing next exit?” And do the same for the Stonegate shopping centre, Costco and other frequently visited sites.
Another example is the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo. For the couple of times a year that I visit the zoo, I have overshot the runway on that road more times than I can count. Would it be asking too much to place a large sign on the boulevard well in advance of the intersection, announcing that the turn to the zoo is coming up? Drivers would then have sufficient time to lane change and prepare to turn. This is a major attraction in our city.
On the new Circle Drive South Bridge, there is overhead signage directing traffic to the city centre. Could you add Ruth Street to that sign? After you take the city centre exit, there is signage to exit onto Ruth, but you have to know that beforehand. For residents travelling the road frequently, you learn from your mistakes. But for visitors trying to navigate the city, it’s a nightmare. While we are at it, add on the Prairieland Exhibition grounds. This venue hosts numerous events that attract visitors to the city. Let’s go for broke and include the Western Development Museum as well.
A reader recently wrote to me about his experience with our new parking system. Although he says he avoids going downtown because of the parking issues, every now and then he is forced to roam the concrete jungle. On one such occasion he paid for his parking and wisely requested a printed receipt. At the same time, he watched a woman pull into a stall who did not pay for parking.
As luck would have it, they both entered the same building and wound up on the elevator together. Curiosity got the best of him and he commented to the woman that he noted she didn’t pay for parking, and queried whether she was worried about getting a parking ticket. She said no, because where they had both parked was a paid parking zone. When exiting the building, he checked the signage.
Right under the “2 hr parking, 09:00-18:00 Mon-Sat” sign was another sign that said “Paid Parking Zone.” Although it is a stretch, arguably the word “paid” is the past tense of “pay” and implies that it has already be done. Perhaps the sign should read “Pay Parking Zone.” If one of these tickets is successfully fought in traffic court, the City is going to have to replace all those signs. I wonder how much each sign costs?
Aside from destination signs, there is the issue of street signage. We have blind intersections; my best example of this is Dufferin Street between Eighth and 12th streets, where metered parking takes up the centre of the road for several blocks.
If the vehicles parked at the meters are large trucks and vans, you cannot see traffic coming from one direction. I know this, as I had an accident at this intersection and received a ticket. I photographed the intersection at the time, argued it and eventually the ticket was cancelled. I believe this particular intersection is now remedied with yield signs, but other blind intersections still exist.
Then there are traffic signs hidden by low-hanging tree foliage in the summer months. If a stop sign isn’t visible, how can you be ticketed for not stopping?
My favourite sign is “High Collision Location – Strictly Enforced.” I’m not sure what it actually means. Is it a destination spot? What is being strictly enforced? Realistically, I think it is to warn drivers that the intersection lends to accidents. If that is the case, why not fix the cause of the accident-prone area?
These are just a few examples of poor signage, some pointed out to me by readers, and I know there are many more examples in the city. I can’t help but wonder if the City would consider improving on this problem if there might be fewer accidents, less personal injury claims and possibly police time freed up from attending to fender benders.
And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I sign off . . .