Signage in DC Confusing – Why are we not surprised?


Signage in DC Confusing – Why are we not surprised?


The City of Washington, DC, has a problem, and it seems to be ongoing. First of all, the parking signs are in conflict — Check this one out:

Three DC signs

Note that the top sign says no standing or parking in the morning or afternoon, but the bottom sign says that 2 hour parking is OK during the same period. Well, the parking department agrees that it might be a problem and is working on fixing the signs, but what should one do in the meantime. Check out this quote from a government spokesperson :

"The best advice we can give anyone about parking, when there is an apparent conflict in the signage, is that you should always abide by the most restrictive sign," Lisle said. "For example, if one sign says you can park in a space during rush hour and another says you can't, you would be wise to find another place to park or you run the risk of getting a ticket."

Oh, there's more.,..How about this graph from a local blog:

The sign (above) begins by advertising 2-hour parking from 9:30 AM-6:30 PM, and then includes the seemingly too-good-to-be-true caveat at the bottom which reads, "no time limit parking, 6:30 PM-10:00 PM." However, as the DDOT press release makes clear, no time limit doesn't mean you don't still have to pay. The DC government will now gladly take all your pocket change at the rate of 25 cents for every 7 1/2 minutes for as long as you would like to park your car.

Sorry, but I find the phrase "no time limit parking, 6:30-10:00PM" infers that there is no charge. Maybe we should bring a lawyer with us to interpret the signs.

We simply must make things as complex as possible. Can you imagine someone in a slight hurry parking near the sign above and then trying to sort out what they were supposed to do? Of course knowing that this issue is located at the seat of our Federal Government probably makes it a little easier to understand, at least to understand why it's complex, complicated, and virtually unknowable. Remember these are the people that brought us a tax code that's 67,000 pages long, bills that are so complex that they have to pass them so we can read them, and a group that 'loses' a quarter of a million emails to a buck private in the army.



Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

7 Responses

  1. Don’t blame this on the Feds. We have our own government to make our parking signs incomprehensible.
    These aren’t the people responsible for the tax code. Completely separate government.

  2. Top sign is a standard rush hour no parking sign, they’re everywhere in DC. Bottom sign is a standard commercial meter zone parking sign.
    Notice the bottom line of the bottom sign says “Pay to Park”.

  3. Any sign taken on its own probably works, its the combination, like the grape and the grain, that can be a killer JVH

  4. Meh, the rush hour no parking takes precedence when it’s in effect. Otherwise you can park but you have to pay. During the day there’s a two hour limit. In the evening there are no limits.
    I’m lobbying to remove a lot of the rush hour no parking signs. Makes things simpler.
    You want to see confusing? Try these:

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