Monday, March 07, 2011

7 MAR 11: Can You Read the Signs?

You may be old enough to remember when there was a fuss about the U.S. adopting "international" traffic signs. Thinking back over the decades, the critics who preferred "No Right Turn" signs in plain English may have had a point. Haven't reading scores been dropping?

But some signs have gone up in a Columbus neighborhood which probably would baffle the most seasoned world travelers. Drive through the Historic District at a normal speed, and they can't possibly figure out what the signs mean. Even a visitor from Greece would say it's Greek to them....

If you stop your car to examine the signs, they still might not make sense for a moment. There's a drawing of two cars, and a sidewalk perpendicular to the cars. Is it an indication Columbus drivers are number one?

You'd have to follow Columbus news closely over the past few months to understand what this is about. The signs are the city's way of explaining new parking rules in the Historic District. They're not really aimed at cars on the street, but in driveways. We wouldn't dare do anything to disrupt the tight messy noon-hour around Minnie's Restaurant on Eighth Street.

The city of Columbus wants Historic District residents to get out of the habit of parking in front yards. The drawings illustrate what drivers are supposed to do - line up cars in driveways, and not block sidewalks while they're at it. If you want to park in 20 different directions, go to a shopping mall in mid-December.

These signs are a step toward neatness in the Historic District -- but it hasn't come without some grumbling. A few residents told the TV news old homes don't have driveways for cars, so they have to park on the lawn. Besides, frozen foods thaw rapidly during a Columbus summer -- not to mention what happens to cold six-packs.

But supporters of the new rules probably would say they make the Historic District look nicer. For one thing, grass actually might grow below the spot where a car is parked.

I haven't noticed Columbus police enforcing these new Historic District rules yet. In fact, I haven't noticed much change at all -- except for the green and white signs posted in every block. Thankfully, no collisions have occurred from drivers slowing down to make sense of them.

This isn't supposed to be an issue where I live, because the complex has off-street parking and a rear driveway. Yet that doesn't stop some people from driving onto the lawn, anyway. Perhaps they deliver things at the front door because a knock at the back door would be considered a sign of burglars.

The last time parking was restricted in the Historic District, part of Fifth Street was posted as off-limits on Sundays. Those signs are doing their job, as parking cars no longer clog the front of Fourth Street Baptist Church before and after services. Travel once was tighter than a newcomer's wallet during offering time.

Now let's cruise through a relatively quiet Sunday in the news neighborhood....

+ The annual Empty Bowl Brunch at Northside Recreation Center raised more than $5,500 for Feed the Valley. Columbus Parks and Recreation took a more front-and-center role in promoting this year's event. If we find out the money allocated for a Parks Director is going to a public relations consultant....

+ WRBL began playing five-second commercials warning of "Chaos April 1." It's apparently the launch of a new online video project by former WVRK-FM "Rock 103" host Chris Chaos. So please do NOT start rumors about radical Muslims taking over Spring Fling at South Commons.

+ The pairings for the Southeastern Conference men's basketball tournament were announced. Auburn will face Georgia in Thursday's first game at the Georgia Dome. If a few football players from both schools would volunteer as basketball walk-ons, the game actually might come close to a sellout.

+ The Aflac Racing team with Carl Edwards won the NASCAR race in Las Vegas. I can understand why Aflac would be thrilled about it - except Edwards and his crew wore the logo of the other team sponsor Sunday. The win looks greener when a lawn and garden product is on display in victory lane.

+ Instant Message to BP: OK, thank you. I know the Gulf Coast looks much better now. Please take the money you're spending on all those TV commercials, and go drill oil wells to bring down the price of gas.

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