Apr 13, 2012

New Mixed-Case Lettering Street Signs

If you take a close look at SF's street signs in the coming months, you might notice that they look a bit odd. They're still the same style, but they're a little peculiar. San Francisco has begun to install new mixed-case lettering signs as mandated by the Federal Highway Administration. They're the same as the old signs, but instead of using ALL CAPS, the names of the streets are in mixed-case. The federal government is requiring all cities to use these new signs by 2018 because studies have shown that mixed-case lettering is easier to read, especially for older folks. If drivers spend less time reading signs, they supposedly have more time to pay attention to the road – sure. There are also some changes to the reflectivity of the new signs and they use a new standardized font – Clearview – designed specifically for the update.

And they're not cheap. Street signs can cost over $100 a piece, and while cities regularly change out their signs to keep them readable, all signs now need to be changed within the next 6 years. This will cost cities like San Francisco millions of dollars. The ones I saw today West of Twin Peaks are the first I've seen of the new variety and there are certainly a whole lot more to go – tens of thousands more. It makes one question whether the cost is worth the benefits.

What do you guys think, are the new signs easier to read? Are they worth the cost?

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