Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Auto-Changing Signage in Toronto

From Torontorants

I always get irritated when I'm driving and I see a sign like this. I can't turn right. No wait, only during certain times. What does that say? Now some one's honking at me. Do Can I turn or not? Argh. I shouldn't be forced to read times of day and check my clock when trying to figure out if I can turn at an intersection.

The other problem with the signs is that in a rush, you just look up and see the no right picture, not even noticing the times. It looks like a straight out no-right sign when you look quickly. And when you're driving in a busy downtown, making quick and informed decisions is key to safety, and to good traffic flow.

Now, This is what the turn restriction sign looks like on Yonge and Bloor during rush hour. No left, no right. Simple. No times of day to worry about.

This is what it looks not during rush hour. What?? Is it different now? Yup. You can't make a left, but you just can't take a right on reds. Brilliant. No small print times to read, just big basic information that's easy to read.

Here's a bit of a glimpse of how it's done. Mechanically changing signs. I'm not sure, but I think they automatically switch at prescribed times. Brilliant.

Of course, just like every smart idea in Toronto, it's sparsely implemented. I'm sure that this is a 'pilot project' by the city, and will probably remain that way forever. It's a shame. I'm sick of getting honked at.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Petition to Save the Walk Left Stand Right!

Well, the Torontist picked up my story, and did a little investigating of their own with TTC customer service. It turns out they really were taken down due to public safety concerns, which I call shenanigans on.

Anyway, the Torontoist post got a lot of comments, mainly supporting the signs, so I decided to start a little petition to save the signs.

Is walking up the escalator really unsafe? If someone shows me good data that it is, I'll gladly stop the campaign.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Walk Left Stand Right... where are you old friend?

I remember when my family first moved to Toronto when I was 13 and my dad told (who'd lived in the city before) told me that when I was riding the escalator on the TTC, I should walk on the left, and stand on the right. He said they even had signs on the escalators suggesting this. I'm a walker, so I stuck to the left. If I felt like standing, I'd stand on the right. Mostly though, I'd race up the stairs on the left, and I still do.

Whenever someone decided to stand with their friend on the left, blocking me from walking up, I'd passive-aggressively look at the sign, hoping they'd notice and move over. I think the social pressure the sign created prompted a lot of people to start walking or move over. It was a simple way to keep pedestrian traffic in the stations moving.

So, the other day, when someone was standing in my way, I looked over at the sign, but I couldn't find it. I thought it was maybe just that station, but I checked others, and couldn't find them anywhere. And then I looked closer, and I saw this:

A large, rectangular scar where the sign used to be. Every station I checked, it was the same deal:

I'm guessing the removal of the signs had something to do with an escalator pile-up that happened last year, causing some injuries. The TTC subsequently had a small campaign about escalator safety, espousing tips about holding on to the handrail, and not shoving past people. The suggestion to “walk left stand right” was conspicuously absent. It was probably thought that for the sake of safety, they shouldn't be encouraging people to rush up the escalators. While I can appreciate the sentiment, I don't think that people walking up the left side was causing any accidents, or even causing people to shove past people. Besides, the accident wasn't even caused by shoving or running – it was caused by the escalator suddenly speeding up.

These signs aren't just a great way to keep people moving, they're also fairly beloved part of our TTC. The Toronto blog torontoist made some TTC tee-shirt designs, and the 'walk left stand right' tee-shirt was one of the most popular. Several travel sites mention the signs as an amusing quirk. Say the phrase to anyone in the city and they'll smile in recognition.

It's too bad that it's been lost due to bureaucratic short-sightedness.

PS This is a bit of an aside, but something that really bothers me is when people stop walking when they get to the top of the escalator. It won't suck you in. And you're forcing everyone else to stop too. I know it's a comfort thing, but it's not dangerous to keep walking.

First Post!

Welcome to this blog, if anyone's out there.

Let me set out my manifesto here.

I love Toronto, but I hate a lot of things about it.

I rant a lot. I have another blog where I rant about technology, called 'technorants'.

I needed a place to rant about things in Toronto. Sometimes I'll rave. But mostly rant.

Second post (with more substance) coming soon.