Ever Felt Like Parking Signs Were Too Complicated?

parking sign

Parking bollards come up a lot as enforcers of parking rules, but they can’t do all the heavy-lifting on their own! Parking signs play a huge role in guiding parking across our cities – such as how long motorists can park, which kinds of vehicles, and duration and times of the day.

Have you ever driven by a parking area, speculating on whether the vacant parking spot you’ve just snared is one you can validly park in, or another parking fine waiting to happen because it’s too badly sign-posted?

It happens far too often, and recent studies have indicated that the fault often lies in the clarity of parking signs.

How many parking signs have you seen which are complex and oversaturated with information? Permitting parking during some hours, but not during others, for certain time lengths, what days of the week, during school term, for certain vehicle classes, with exceptions for buses or loading vans or motorcycles or who knows what else. At the end of the day, a cruising motorist is left finishing a short novella before figuring out whether the parking spot is in fact available to park in – and on top of that, how much parking is going to cost them.

A woman in New York City, a city sorely impacted by parking congestion, picked up on this flaw in design and set to work on a re-design. And the results spoke for themselves.


Necessity really is the mother of invention – Nikki put her own signs up around parking lots to garner feedback, and it was resoundingly positive.

So much so that word got all the way around the world to Brisbane, here in Australia. Municipalities went ahead and trialled it – to the tune of a 60% increase in parking compliance. So what did these new signs do differently?

For starters, they minimised unnecessary information. Information about whether you can park or not should be readily discernible at a glance. Cluttering signs with the reasons why, such as indicating “loading times” or “school hours”, is superfluous. The new design informs a motorist whether they can park there at any time or not and dispenses with the explanation. Simple and to the point.

The new design by Nikki relied more heavily on visual signals. Big red or green blocks helped spell out whether parking there was a good idea or not at a glance – which is notably great for people who may struggle to read fine print from far away. And speaking of accessibility…

While continuing iterations of the successful redesign, Nikki improved the accessibility of her signs by adapting them for people who are colour blind. The simplest solution was to add faint stripes to the red zones, differentiating them from the green ones even without colour. Once again, a simple but highly impactful change that opens the city up to everyone.

Of course, if you’re still struggling with parking enforcement in your residential, commercial or strata building, then the answer may well lie with individual bay enforcement. There are few parking signs that put it more eloquently than one of our trusty parking bollards standing guard in your parking spot.


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