Who Needs Clear And Easily Understandable Parking Signs Anyway?

Who Needs Clear And Easily Understandable Parking Signs Anyway?
Yeah, I asked a cop once. It means 'Up yours, kid'. Image: 20th Century Fox
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Finding a parking spot is hard enough as it is without barely intelligible signs that take multiple reads to be sure the spot is legal. That doesn’t stop local councils from putting up a forest of signage that tells you as little helpful information as possible by overwhelming you with all the different restrictions in place.

A picture of a particularly unintelligible parking sign is doing the rounds on social media. Restrictions on school days, different ticketed parking times, exceptions for council vehicles and a typo.


Spot the typo? It’s on the left side: “9:15AM to 2:45AM” and likely should read “9:15AM to 2:45PM” like the right side. Good luck contesting a ticket on those grounds.

Twitter users replied with their own examples of horrendously unhelpful parking signs.

You have to wonder if the council workers involved thought they were constructing their own modern Tower of Babel. It’s an old problem but one that will keep grumbling about until there is a solution.

Image: Brisbane City Council

One solution to this nonsense was trialed in Brisbane in 2015, replacing the text with an easy to read chart. These signs were themselves based on a trial that took place in Los Angeles earlier that year.

The Los Angeles trial was only scheduled for six months and it’s hard to pin down if things progressed further than that, nor how many other cities did similar trials. All we know for sure is that the revamped signs definitely did not get as far as Sydney.


  • Inner West Council in Sydney complicates it further by having a requirement that you go to a machine and get a “free ticket” during the day. However they’ve split the day up so that you have one timezone ending at 12.30pm and another starting then. If you’ve come into the area around lunch time, you have to return to the vehicle at exactly 12.30 to get a new ticket or risk a fine for not having secured a “free” ticket. (A morning ticket can go no later than 12.30 )

    I’d also like to thank all those City of Sydney folks who put up “Special event” signs after you’ve parked, and then send someone around to fine you. Or those who erect a new sign overnight and then fine you (which happened to me in Bellevue Hill).

  • IMHO, Councils are doing this more and more because it increases the likelihood of patrons making a mistake and paying for it (someone needs to pay for their dough nuts)…

    My partner got one in a suburb of the city we live in that was “part of the CBD parking district”. When we explained it to council that we looked for street signs, we were told that there were large signs detailing the parking restrictions at every entry point into the district. The council officer asked where we had come from and then explained that the sign was in the middle of a bridge coming from that direction.

    When we drove past it the next time, there was absolutely no way anyone could have the time to read all the information on it and there was nowhere to stop to do so – you’d get a ticket if you did for causing traffic chaos. In effect, the council had placed the sign knowingly in a location that it couldn’t be observed. Where we parked the car was over 2 km’s from the sign.

    We challenged the ticket and got off but it wasn’t easy and I’ve no doubt the council has made a motza out of it.

    • Catching the “out of town” driver is a lucrative tactic. I got caught in London switching into a bus lane by accident – there were no signs and any road markings were obscured by rain and other vehicles. The council was completely unwilling to let me off, even though their camera must have been able to capture the conditions and the fact that I tried to get out the lane, but other vehicles wouldn’t let me merge back.

  • Although they did have the trial of those dumb “chart” signs in Brisbane, it did not fix anything and made it worse as they were added with the original signs, not instead of. In the image above from Sydney there are “only” four signs (some with multiple instructions) – the examples in Brisbane with the dumb “chart” added, meant up to 7 different signs (some with multiple instructions at once) on the one pole. Have photos to prove it – there may have been even more than 7! The biggest irony is that often the signs included at least one no standing period which means that to slow down and read all seven signs would require you to stop and thus breach the instruction. Fought the council and eventually won – waste of my time – just for them trying to revenue raise, and simultaneously look stupid at the same time.

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