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March 7, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Stop sign

Stop_signsSally Lewis sends in a picture from Louisiana:

These two signs on the same pole completely baffled me and my passengers.

Was I supposed to stop or keep going?


Slow and go. Slow and go.

Posted by: Capt. Wafter at March 7, 2006 12:27 AM

Dang!... I came so close to being "First".

Posted by: Timm at March 7, 2006 04:48 AM

It's a zen riddle. You must attain a state whereby you are both stopped yet moving.

Posted by: Alden Bates at March 7, 2006 06:04 AM

Actually this is an intervention of a worm hole connecting two parallel universes fully indicative of the "String Theory."

Posted by: Spruance at March 7, 2006 07:09 AM

This is one of those classic "broken expeirences," it's not possible to prove that this isn't broken. Definatley Broken.

Posted by: Ethan at March 7, 2006 08:12 AM

Would you get a ticket for going through the stop sign? Would you get a ticket if you stopped?

Posted by: MaryUm at March 7, 2006 08:20 AM

Actually, I have to disagree. There are two areas in question here: the driving "lane", and the potential parking "lane". (We don't drive right along the curb, remember). The stop sign refers to the driving lane, and the no stopping sign refers to the parking lane.

"No stopping" is a form of "no parking" (the layout of the sign should have been a hint) which specifies that sitting in an effectively parked, but running, car is also unacceptable.

Sorry, but not broken.

Posted by: karen at March 7, 2006 08:40 AM

OK, I was going to say that I think I understood what these signs are attempting to communicate, but I sure don't want to be the guy who says "not broken" to this.

Posted by: Reed at March 7, 2006 08:41 AM

I get what it was trying to say... but it's still funny!

Posted by: Toni at March 7, 2006 08:49 AM

It is funny, yes. And yes, it's not broken. Karen's hit the nail on the head, but I'm going to elaborate:

Most users we discuss in this forum are assumed to have the right to operate or otherwise interpret things as an *inexperienced* user - the instructions should NOT need a manual in order to be interpretable.

***That is (more or less) how we here DEFINE broken vs. not broken.***

Such is NOT the case with drivers, who must be *licensed* (i.e. instructed in the rules and operation of the device and its context).

Stop, here, is seen in two different contexts. Drivers are expected to know the difference between "STOP" - a moving instruction, and "STOP" - a parking instruction.

Posted by: DaveC426913 at March 7, 2006 09:50 AM

isn't it somewhat likely, especially if this is a narrow street and there are other cars around, that in stopping you would be inclined to pull partway into the area which would be considered 'near the curb' and therefore in the no stopping zone?

Posted by: gmangw at March 7, 2006 10:11 AM

The poster up top is slightly incorrect. In a parking context, there are three related concepts: parking, standing and stopping. Parking is a car sitting with the engine off, driver or not. Standing involves a driver sitting in a running car. And stopping means stopping to discharge or pick up a passenger. They are supersets of one another. No Standing implies No Parking. No Stopping implies No Standing and No Parking.

Thus, anyone may stop at the stop sign and not run afoul of the "No Stopping" rule as long as they don't discharge or pick up any passengers.

Posted by: ruidh at March 7, 2006 11:46 AM

Nothing is better than total happiness.

A Ham Sandwich is better than nothing.

Ergo, a ham sandwich is better than total happiness.


Stop sign = Full stop for 3 seconds

No stopping = No having the driver stop the car at the curb and stay for long periods of time, with the intent of picking up/droping off passengers/stalking.

The two stops mean different things legally.

Though it is still broken.

Posted by: Jim King at March 7, 2006 12:08 PM

The no stopping sign must be in refrence to the earth's rotation and revolution around the sun. That's it...

Posted by: Fayth at March 7, 2006 01:01 PM

It doesn't matter what it means. If it leaves any room for ambiguity, it is broken. Especially when it comes to signs that can cause you to get a ticket...

Posted by: =David at March 7, 2006 01:38 PM

i could see how this would be instantly confusing to anyone who is from another country.

Posted by: adsf! at March 7, 2006 01:54 PM

DaveC, you're giving "licensed" drivers waaaaay too much credit.

This is exactly the kind of logic that gives the "not broken wackos" their well deserved rep.

Posted by: Broken at March 7, 2006 03:06 PM

With Karen, DaveC and Jim on this one: Not broken. Stopping is in two different contexts as indicated by the two different format signs. Anyone with the legal right to drive should know the difference, and anyone who doesn't shouldn't be driving.

Funny nonetheless.

Posted by: Erich at March 7, 2006 03:10 PM

Wow! It must be a gold mine for traffic cops! Stop or go, you are bound to get a ticket.

Posted by: someone at March 7, 2006 05:09 PM

What's really broken here is that someone was too lazy and/or cheap to find a way to display these signs that made it clear that they are to be read in two different contexts, rather than just settling for bolting them both to the nearest utility pole. At the very least, they should have obeyed the convention that traffic control signs are generally displayed perpendicular to the flow of traffic, whereas parking control signs are usually closer to parallel to the roadway (maybe angled just a little towards the traffic).

Yes, an experienced driver should understand the difference between the two meanings of "stop" here. But in the real world, some drivers are less experienced, some are foreign and not familiar with local context, and some (like me) will just start laughing their fool heads off when they see signs like this. For these drivers, this sign is a needless and possibly dangerous distraction.

(It also reflects poorly on the local townsfolk. If I'd seen this sign, after I finished laughing, and then avoided the last-minute collision I just nearly caused by not watching the road, my first thought would be, "What a bunch of hicks. Can't they afford to buy a proper signpost or two?")

Posted by: E.T. at March 7, 2006 05:11 PM

completely doctored

Posted by: Joe at March 7, 2006 05:33 PM

It's all about Einstein's theory of relativity. If you were to travel at extremely close the speed of light, you would appear to be not moving to anyone outside of your vehicle, but to anyone in the vehicle, you would be moving forward quite fast, in time as well as space.

Posted by: Eric Hosmer at March 7, 2006 06:25 PM

I was actually with Sally when we came across this sign. It's easy to understand what the person posting the signs was trying to do but the way in which it was done was quite confusing. As for the people who are talking about a "parking lane," there was no such lane. It was a very narrow street with barely room for two cars to pass. Someone was just very lazy and didnt feel like jackhammering out a hole in the sidewalk and placing the sign in concrete elsewhere.

Posted by: Matt at March 7, 2006 06:45 PM

Yes, I know, there's no parking "lane." I suppose I should have said "area." And of course there's no space to park there. If there was space, there probably would have been no need for a "no stopping" sign.

Also, regarding this comment: "Someone was just very lazy and didnt feel like jackhammering out a hole in the sidewalk and placing the sign in concrete elsewhere." That's fine with me. My tax money would have paid for their industriousness, so I prefer laziness in government whenever possible. :)

Posted by: karen at March 7, 2006 08:17 PM

Actually, being from Louisiana my(own)self [as they say here], I fully understand the meaning of this picture. However, to fully appreciate it, one must translate it into "Cajun-ese" first. It says: 'when rowing your pirogue in the bathtub and you "catch" a flat tire, how many pancakes does it take to fill up a doghouse?' Of course, anyone from this part of the country knows that though...

Posted by: SDIgroup at March 8, 2006 08:49 AM

"DaveC, you're giving "licensed" drivers waaaaay too much credit."

Not me - I said '...they are *expected* to know...'. It's the Ministry that gives drivers too much credit.

Posted by: DaveC426913 at March 8, 2006 09:24 AM

This would be even more confusing in Qu├ębec.

Our no stopping sign is a silhouette of a stop sign with a red circle around it and a red slash going through it.

The no stopping sign really should have been placed several feet before the stop sign to show that it applies to the street in general, not to the area in front of the stop sign.

Posted by: Sean P at March 8, 2006 10:03 AM

if they meant no parking, they should have said no parking, or at least put the sign on a smaller pole, maybe a little ways away from the stop sign...

Posted by: asdf at March 9, 2006 08:12 AM

This is like Guatemala city!


Posted by: Hector at March 9, 2006 02:05 PM

And the winner is ruidh.

"And stopping means stopping to discharge or pick up a passenger. They are supersets of one another. No Standing implies No Parking. No Stopping implies No Standing and No Parking.

Thus, anyone may stop at the stop sign and not run afoul of the "No Stopping" rule as long as they don't discharge or pick up any passengers."

The law is the law, BUT what if?

Your passenger catches on fire while your at or near the intersection. Acting on the advice given to us since childhood, they exit the vehicle, drop to the ground and roll away from the vehicle, an obvious traffic violation. Do you make them pay the ticket that you get?

Posted by: longhair at March 9, 2006 08:59 PM

Re: "Standing involves a driver sitting in a running car."

San Francisco has signs that TRULY baffled me when I first saw them:

"Bus Stop - No Standing"

And there wasn't a bench to sit on. You're supposed to squat while waiting for the bus, or what? I had to ask a local what the heck that meant, and he pointed out that Standing means sitting (!) in your car with the engine running.

Certainly not intuitive.

Posted by: David Walker at March 10, 2006 12:46 PM

so dose this meen you can get out of a ticket?

Posted by: samantha at March 10, 2006 02:40 PM

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