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New LA Parking Signs Are Good Design

Comparison between the usual American city parking signs and the redesign  (photo by Michael Dorausch, via Flickr; illustration courtesy lamayor.org)
Comparison between the usual American city parking signs and the redesigned sign in the LADOT Parking Sign Pilot Program (photo by Michael Dorausch, via Flickr; illustration courtesy lamayor.org)

Last week, the first of 100 signs that are part of an initiative to rethink parking was installed in Los Angeles by Mayor Eric Garcetti. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) Parking Sign Pilot Program takes the information of those unwieldy towers of regulations and adds a grid guide, the first of its kind implemented in the United States.

The six-month pilot program is implemented from a design by New York–based Nikki Sylianteng, who started her To Park or Not to Park? experiment as a “guerrilla parking sign redesign project.” As she writes: “I’ve gotten one-too-many $95 tickets because I thought I read the sign right but apparently didn’t. It shouldn’t have to be this complicated.” She started infiltrating New York last year with DIY parking schedules, and her proposal eventually got the attention of LADOT director Seleta Reynolds. The signs use green and red blocks (with hatching for the color blind) to create a vertical calendar of when you can park. Here’s an Instagram that Sylianteng shared on her site of the first sign:

Trying to interpret the new parking sign out front. #dtla #lockedout

A photo posted by Sacha Baumann (@sacha_baumann) on

The signs are more interpretative guide than replacement, installed beneath existing signs on some of LA’s downtown streets. The adoption of the initially grassroots design by LA is similar to the evolution of the Walk [Your City] project, where people can make signs for biking or walking distances, something that was originally unsanctioned and is now officially used by cities like Raleigh, North Carolina.

Deciphering parking in LA (or anywhere for that matter) can get absurd, as the monolithic sign towers in nearby Culver City reported last year demonstrate, with some having eight signs stretching so high you’d need opera glasses to decipher it all. Additionally, the signs include Gimbal and BKON Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) beacons donated to the city that transmit to smartphones and cars, a connectivity step that will likely be the ultimate solution as both people and their vehicles get more linked up for sharing information. Before that future and its needed funding arrives, the signs are a lower cost example of how rethinking design can make existing infrastructure more useable.

The evolution of Nikki Sylianteng's design for To Park or Not to Park? (via toparkornottopark.com)
The evolution of Nikki Sylianteng’s design for To Park or Not to Park? (via toparkornottopark.com)
Anatomy of a Sign (courtesy LADOT Parking Sign Pilot Program)
Anatomy of a Sign (courtesy LADOT Parking Sign Pilot Program)

… Then again, it doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with the old parking signs, too, as this random addition from an artist (who never misses the chance for attention and maybe wanted to cling desperately to the back of the redesign bandwagon) showed this week:

PJ+Oscars+statue+location+SM-1000
A new series of parking signs by LA-based street artist Plastic Jesus popped up in LA this week (via plasticjesus.net)

Read more about the LADOT Parking Sign Pilot Program at the City of Los Angeles site. 

h/t LA Times

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