In a bright and busy age of modern travel, it’s ironic that seemingly arcane details have seemingly not gone away.
But occasionally we’re reminded that when it comes to our highway, rail, bicycle and pedestrian networks, what’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander.
Such was the case Wednesday night as a farcical but just plain bizarre array of transit and safety measures were rolled out by Metrolinx , the regional transport agency for Greater Toronto and Region.
These included the installation of black, blinking safety arrows along a nine-kilometer section of the Don Valley Parkway with a similar sound and color palette suggesting that the huge traffic body was in danger of toppling on its own two feet.
Tense and ridiculous
A conservation easement executive pointing out that the arrows were intended to warn hikers and cyclists of construction intended to last nine years, and that there were still plenty of workers on site. Masinewi, eagle-eyed viewers may also have noted that bright lights were displayed in the approach to the mile-long construction site — which was once again under construction, incidentally.
However, as Vancouver, British Columbia-based transportation reporter Oslan/Mattawan had noticed, one of the barred arrows facing the public was incorrectly in sequence, leading the rider’s attention to the other side of the large “don’t cross” sign.
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On that side of the signage, there was no further clarification on what was required to cross the closed off stretch.
‘It looked menacing’
“Hikers and cyclists — and no doubt a large number of general vehicle and truck drivers — were buzzing around, saying it looked menacing and not the type of sign that was particularly welcoming to those seeking to experience the pristine scenery of our great outdoors,” Oslan/Mattawan wrote on his blog, This Is Going On My Head
Adding to the intrigue was an accompanying tweet:
The other problem with the signs? The edges of the arrows seemed to not have been photographed.
Others pointed out the irony of a transit body supposed to be promoting safety by detecting potential safety problems promoting the outdoors, a place they themselves might not be in danger of ruining.
Also, they were right to be confused — it was simply a change in markings for a state-of-the-art transit system with an eye on the future. The markings had not been updated since 1994.
Another recent change was the swapping of amber for black. Apparently, driving in any color other than black is unsafe.
Moreover, we are now so used to the habit of dismissing flags and signs in the wake of a foot-stamping into something temporarily rude or disconcerting that we suddenly assume their great importance.
With the ever-present danger of unnecessary death or injury in our proximity, this mistake — and the discovery of a similar error at a tunnel under Scarborough Road — looks nothing like a blip on the radar.
And, frankly, the more I think about it, the more I find it boggling.