Monday, December 22, 2008

Charlottesville's "No Parking" signs and community eye test

My eyesight is 20-20 with my corrective lenses but the current signs that the city has placed in my neighborhood are truly a challenge for me and I am sure for lots of others. To add to the challenge for potential parkers on Hedge Street, Park Plaza, Parkway and Fourth Street NE the signs are only 1-2 feet off the ground. These signs are posted for one month in conjunction with hauling oversize concrete decking to the Juvenile and Domestic Court parking garage construction site on Fourth Street NE between East High St. and Hedge St. through the North Downtown neighborhood.

The "NO PARKING" text is about 3 inches tall; the "TOWING ENFORCED" text is about 2 inches tall; but the key information stating that this only applies "MON-FRI" and only between "7:00 am to 4:30 pm" is handwritten in letters roughly one-quarter inch in height. I think this information is written smaller than the large print books in the downtown library collection. [Click on the sign photo for a larger version so you won't get eyestrain from trying to read the upper-left corner of the sign in the photo.]

I suggested to the responsible city staff that providing information to motorists in a truly unreadable form (at least for the day/time information) is not in the realm of good customer service to which our city staff is committed. In fact, several of my friends from out of town drove independently to my house on Saturday and all of them commented on the lack of parking on my street (Hedge St.) and connecting streets. All parked a few blocks away - because they couldn't read other than "NO PARKING" and "TOWING ENFORCED" and likely couldn't even imagine that the fine print was additional key time and day-of-week information.

It seems that these spaces are effectively restricted at all times on all days because nobody (other than those who have walked up to the signs) can read the time/day limits from the driver's seat in an automobile while looking for a parking space.

Although I don't generally invite motorist to cut through on Hedge Street, I do invite you to cruise by and test your eyesight on the dozen or so signs currently posted. I also encourage you to contact the city to request that readable signs need to be put up as soon as possible. What good is a sign if it doesn't communicate the intended message? Sometimes bigger is truly better! And taller would be better, too!

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