Tactical Urbanism Sunday: Road Sign Sound of Silence

Yesterday’s weekly ride had the Better Burque Tactical Urbanism Team (BBTUT) once again coming across a “Road Work Ahead” sign in the bike lane on Coal Avenue near Walter.

Only this time it was sans signage.

Echoing that great transportation song of the 60s, “The Sound of Silence” (“streets of cobblestone”? “written on the subway walls”? C’mon, that song is all about transportation issues, I tell ya!), it appears the latest attempt by road work contract crews to handle weekends, when no work is happening, is to simply take the sign, leaving a bumpy, dangerous “silence.”

coal before silence

The resultant effect is both very hard and very easy.

The difficulty comes from the existential questions raised, far from answered, by this. What is a road sign without the sign? What is a message without the message? What is communication in a world where “people hearing without listening” is now worse than perhaps any time in history? What does it all mean when there is no meaning?

Then there’s the easy solution to the actual danger: Just move the goddamn sign-holder into the wide buffer. 

coal silence after.jpg

Moving the sign-holder is also easier because it weighs far less when sans signage, making this an easy one person job. Of course, that person could be the road work contract employee while they take the sign on Friday afternoons. But maybe that employee is actually a metaphysical teacher of some sort, presenting a koan to each of us, a “vision that was planted in my brain” for us to endlessly untangle and wrestle with.

Or maybe they should just move the goddamn sign-holder.

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