Street Furniture

It was Monday morning when Coco noticed it.

Or carry on reading….

There was a road sign above his head, not visible until immediately after a left turn had been executed from a very busy thoroughfare and having been caught previously by a restricted entry notice in a similar position Coco halted to read the sign, which was rather similar in its length to the abstract of a précis of War and Peace which recently been printed as a supplement to a well-known daily newspaper not afraid to use long words, complete sentences and paragraphs had.

Almost immediately there was a sound rather like an angry goose behind his vehicle, which he thought, though it is rather difficult to judge from inside a car, seemed to emanate from the large white passenger coach which was also turning, or rather trying to turn, left but had found an obstruction on the road. Coco wondered why such a comfortable vehicle was being used for the carriage of geese, but as farmers sometimes use their Rolls Royce for the carriage of pigs perhaps Coco need not have wondered. It may have been that Coco was mistaken and there actually was a mad wild goose nearby no doubt on a leash being held by one of the inhabitants of those parts. Anyway, leaving the goose behind, there are four road signs here within a distance of about four poles of the corner, each of which needs to be carefully, correctly, and comprehensively comprehended by the road users. The coach driver would have to travel more slowly to read them, though he would be able to read with greater ease than the writer being seated himself at a greater altitude than he.

Why we complain about lower speed limits when the plethora of street furniture requires a forward motion of no more than five mph is somewhat of a mystery to Coco.

A solution to this problem appears to have been found by our friends in Westmoreland. It only remains for its proper implementation in other parts of the country, and particularly in our towns, where the uncountable nature of signs can lead to extraordinary consequences. Coco must say that when he first saw the sign it seemed to him to be a quite unnecessary addition to the street furniture, but after many more than several sightings of the same its usefulness began to become clear to him.

Coco regrets now not stopping to photograph one end of a one way street where, when you approached from the west the speed limit was thirty mph, but when you approached from the east it was a mere twenty mph. There were other ways onto the street one of which clearly indicated the end of a twenty mph zone, but imposed a new zone with the same speed restriction only three metres, which as we know is even shorter than a pole, further down the road. Coco felt that Westmorelanders should be invited to discussions and consultations about a new regime for the placement and display of signs. Coco should also like to propose a standard here, but Coco, who has no doubt that others can provide better suggestions for the standard, invites you to do so. With the incorporation of the Westmorelandish solution this would greatly increase the readability of our signs, and reduce the risk of signs being misread.

What Coco proposes is a standard layout of signs, which would remove the need for multiple sign posts, at least one of which will be missed when there is an angry goose following you, to replace them with one sign post where all of the different parts would be present in a standardised order. That order would be the same on all road signs from the top to the bottom. The order Coco would propose is as follows, from the top:

  • Entry/no entry
  • Traffic flow direction
  • Speed limit
  • Parking restrictions
  • Road closure times and restrictions
  • Bus lane information
  • Enforcement notices
  • Other useful information – eg time of day, proximity to schools, hospitals, months of the year, police stations etc

As an aside, Coco does wonder why we need to be told about enforcement, it should be a given that where there is a restriction enforcement tools will be in place, hence positioning it towards the bottom of the standardised layout. This standardised layout of signs would make them easier to read and increase safety on our roads.

Now this is where the Westmorelandish sign comes into its greatest use. Coco had hoped to be able to show you a picture of such an actual sign, but having only seen them whilst driving where it was not possible to stop, and due to the inappropriateness of taking hold of a camera or mobile phone whilst being in charge of a motor vehicle Coco does not have such a photograph. The possibility of finding one on maps occurred to Coco, but having driven all the way virtually from Lancaster towards the A66 on the M6, we had a breakdown at

we could go no further. Coco had to pick the man up and move him manually forward on the road….it must be electrical interference from the railroad below…if you can find where to click in order to move forward, please let Coco know.

A bit further down the road we are overtaken by a white City van, which appears to be moving relatively to us faster than we are moving than the articulated truck which we are overtaking and which is almost certainly travelling as fast as its speed limiter allows it. But it is a white van; white vans are invisible against the white clouds.

Sadly, on this epic journey Coco found no examples of the sign, so Coco must fake one. By the way, though there were indications of road works, no actual works were visible. Google maps is evidently not to be relied upon for the presence or otherwise of roadworks.

When we have a standard, which is capable of carrying all the information a road user may need on one sign post, it is also necessary to indicate if any particular part of it is not in use. This Westmorelandish sign is ideally suited to that use, and so would be used on every road sign when any particular part of the sign was not required.

Where the really useful information about where the road leads – is it going to Edinburgh or London is an important consideration when you are wondering whether to turn left or right in Doncaster – needs to fit in somewhere but Coco is having difficulty finding room for it. Coco dare says it will be obvious to many of you what the solution is.

Anyway, here is an example of a sign using the new standard, don’t forget to follow the link to see the original. Coco is sure to be certain that you agree the new standardised sign on the right is far easier to read than the conventional placing of four signs as on the left.

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