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Simplifying New York Parking Signs

by Min Li Chan

In part five of our series on urban typography, we turn our attention to the universal problem of complicated parking signs. With their convoluted restrictions and temporal conditions meted out in uppercase authority, they almost seem designed to guarantee a constant stream of revenue from parking tickets.

New York's transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan recently observed that the city's parking signs "can sometimes be a five-foot-high totem pole of confusing information."

Source: Park It! Guides

The design firm Pentagram recently worked with New York's transportation department to redesign the city's parking signs. The new versions are left-aligned for readability, consistently color-coded and clearly spaced. They are also streamlined to two flavors: one for commercial vehicles, one for all other vehicles. A logical and consistent information hierarchy conveys the most important parts first, matching the cognitive flow of a motorist trying to determine whether she is parked legally.

Source: Pentagram

Each sign begins with the type of parking available, followed by important notices and the period of enforcement. The previous signs counterintuitively displayed the time before the day of the week. By comparison, the simplified signs are a breath of fresh air.

Polis readers, if you have examples of what delights or frustrates you about parking signs in your city, we'd love to hear about them!

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