Driving around with a friend (who recently moved back to the city) the other day when he brought up a good point, city street signs are completely random. It’s impossible to know where to look for a street sign and sometimes you can’t find one at all, even at major intersections.
In cities like Winnipeg, where traffic signals are hung from horizontal poles, the most visible place to mount a street sign is directly on the mounting pole, right above the roadway. I think that’s pretty straightforward common-sense.
I’ve pulled some images of Portage Avenue from Google Streetview. Portage is one of the busiest roads in Winnipeg, it’s the start of the Yellowhead Trail (west to Edmonton) and part of the main Trans Canada Highway (to Calgary). According to the City of Winnipeg’s 2009 Traffic Flow study (pdf), Portage Avenue received an average weekday flow of 75,000 cars per day – the portions of road mentioned below see about 75% of that. Suffice it to say, it’s a busy road.
Portage & Moray
An example of good signage; every major intersection should be set up like this. You can clearly see a large sign marking the cross street above every traffic signal on all four intersecitons.
Portage & Sturgeon
A few kilometers west of Moray lies one of the worst examples of street signage in the city. The westbound lane (on the left) is fine, it’d be hard to miss that Sturgeon Rd sign. For no apparent reason eastbound lane is completely non-standard. The traffic signal is clearly missing a sign, you’ll probably have to squint to actually find the sign. I’ll give you a hint, it’s off to the right…on a “no stopping” sign. How completely random is that? It gets worse, the sign post is actually offset a couple of meters ahead of the intersection. So, if you’re stopped at the stop line, or anywhere in one of the left-hand lanes it’s actually physically impossible to see the sign.
Obviously inconsistant street signage is far from the biggest problem facing Winnipeg, it’s not even the worst problem with the roads. It’s just one of those little things…
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