Poor Signage

Posted on July 21, 2014 · 3 mins read

Before I get started, remember this blog is called A Series of First World Problems. I am about to detail what may be the ultimate first world problem: parking tickets!

A few weeks ago, I visited Brookline for dinner. Ever since Thailand Cafe closed down in Cambridge I have been on a quest to find a suitable source of  Chengdu dry hot chicken. I decided to check out Sichuan Gourmet in Brookline. When we parked, we saw the sign below.

Before I continue, take a look at the image and complete this poll:

I don’t regularly follow sports, and I certainly don’t follow baseball (too boring). When I saw these signs, I mostly ignored the Red Sox sign as it wasn’t pertinent to my situation. I was there for dinner, after all. However, the police did not ignore the car, and ticketed it at 9:04 PM.

Bad design is upsetting and, in this case costly ($15 after appealing the initial $25 fine). I know you’re saying, “it’s just $15”! It’s $15 multiplied by the number of other folks who misinterpret the sign. Keep in mind an MIT graduate (me) and Ph.D. candidate (Michelle) both managed to misinterpret the sign. This isn’t me gloating, it’s me stating the fact that the sign is not properly relaying information to parkers.

“Red Sox parking available” doesn’t mean much to someone uninterested in the Red Sox game. I won’t even go into the fact that the sign assumes parkers have smart phones and data plans, or the fact that the schedule is a 4MB PDF! The sign simply needs to be more explicit about the fact that payment is required on the night of Red Sox home games. “Payment required night of Red Sox home games” relays significantly more information than “Red Sox parking available”.

Undoubtedly, people will have theories that the signs are purposely vague to increase confusion and revenue. I will give the Town of Brookline the benefit of the doubt and assume someone legitimately screwed up the wording of this sign without malice. However, I will also start a personal campaign to update these signs. I have the option of paying a $275 filing fee to continue contesting my ticket in a district court. As much as I want to stand on principle on this matter, it would be foolish to pay such a fee over a $15 ticket.

Join me in petitioning Brookline to fix their signs. You can contact the parking office, tweet, or post on Facebook. #FixBrooklineSigns