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    June 26, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Sign at Oakland Airport

    OaklandairportScott Souchock submits a picture taken by Brian Jones in Oakland, California:

    My friend Brian Jones sent me the photo above. He commented: "For me, in person, it was hard to decipher what was to the right and what was directly out the door to the street that this sign was above."

    To solve this problem most clearly would be to print "Through door to" or simply "To." on the sign.

    I believe we rely on arrows maybe a bit too much. In either case, things that are through the door should have a downward pointing arrow because you're going under something.

    Airports and transportation facilities in general, should have the highest quality of signs anywhere, because a lot of people coming and going are one time or infrequent users.

    June 12, 2007 12:23 AM

    Broken: Northwest Airlines first class "meal"

    NwfirstclassFrom Martin Rottler's Flickr photostream:

    This is what the cost cutting has come to: a packaged granola bar and a muffin in First Class.


    As my seatmate said: "Kinda makes me yearn for the good old days."

    September 29, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Emergency instructions on a train


    Ian Chard submits a picture taken on a First Great Western Link train between London and Great Malvern, UK:

    Presumably those not fortunate enough to be travelling in first class can get stuffed in case of an "emergeny"...

    September 13, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Schedule display in Rome

    Scheduledisplay A reader submits a picture taken in Rome, Italy:

    I saw this broken schedule screen at the Fiumicino Airport in Rome.

    Looks like one out of three schedule display is lazy and doesn't want to stand upright.

    January 20, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Departure gates sign

    UpordownRichard Sedley submits a picture of a sign taken at the Dusseldorf airport in Germany:

    This sign appeared on a stairwell telling you that the departure gates were down the stairs.

    It does make for an interesting icon, but can't say how helpful it would be if you were in a rush to find your gate.

    November 16, 2005 08:42 AM

    Broken: High-end hotels' control (panels)

    Speaking of the hotel room control panel a couple of days ago, the NYT reports excitedly that the Mandarin Oriental offers something similar.

    Link: Technology Lets High-End Hotels Anticipate Guests' Whims.

    Other than the confusing-looking interface in the picture, and the privacy issues around the hotel tracking guests' music and TV-watching "trails", it sounds like a fantastic idea! (Not really.)

    November 11, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Toilet door on train

    Toilet_door Nic Price of beatnic asks:

    How do you know it's locked?

    October 13, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Airport sign

    Memory_emptyMichael Honey sends this picture from the Madrid airport and writes:

    Airports are easy pickings, but we mostly see broken Windows applications: big signs like this going down are rarer. Or is this a message to jet-lagged travelers?

    September 13, 2005 12:04 AM

    Broken: Heathrow terminal listing

    Heathrow_2Jesus Encinar writes:

    This happened at Heathrow terminal 1.

    Someone probably hit the wrong button on of those horizontal versus vertical options and everyone had to turn their heads to read their flights.

    It was no problem reading the panels, you just had to tilt your head. The big problem was that all flights leaving between 9:30 and 10:40 were out of sight ("below the fold").

    August 15, 2005 10:28 AM

    Broken: Hotels' alarm clocks

    Yahoo News: Hotels improve alarm clocks for weary guests.

    August 10, 2005 01:31 PM

    Broken: Washington, DC Metro

    John F. writes:

    Given the budget problems all public transit systems seem to be having around the country, it's interesting that Washington, DC would not fix the Metro, which doesn't adequately help the millions of tourists who visit every year. I could see ignoring this kind of stuff at the far-flung stations at the ends of the lines mostly used by commuters, but not down by the Mall/White House/Downtown area.

    Link: Welcome to Washington, And Now You're on Your Own

    August 5, 2005 12:02 AM

    Broken: Airport monitor virus

    VirusAlex B. points out this virus error message he saw a few months back at the Houston airport.

    July 10, 2005 06:28 PM

    Broken: Hotel thermometer

    Dsc00821Seth Godin writes:

    Even the guys who like to point out how everything is not really broken have to agree that this thermostat is broken.

    It's in a hotel room. By definition, people in hotel rooms don't stay long.

    Since it doesn't have a thermometer on it, there's no way to know HOW MUCH to turn the dial to adjust the temp. Turn it too much and an hour later, you're out of bed, adjusting it again.

    How does a thermostat without a thermometer do a better job than one that gives feedback when you set it?

    (at the Chancery Court hotel in London, where, by the way, internet access costs a STUNNING $30 a day. Theft.)

    July 6, 2005 12:06 AM

    Broken: Wilmington, NC airport monitors

    Airport1David Gallagher writes:

    Here's a pretty monitor that displays departure information at the Wilmington, N.C. airport. It reflects not the actual status of flights, as travelers would expect, but the SCHEDULE of flights.

    I took this photo while waiting to board the 7:20 flight to LaGuardia. The moment the clock hit 7:20, the flight status switched to 'departed,' even though half the passengers were not yet on the plane.

    A plague of locusts could ground every plane in the nation and this thing would still be merrily ticking off departures. (It's a safe bet that the 'arrivals' screens have the same problem.) This is an information system that actually has less information about what's going on than the people who are supposed to benefit from it.

    To its credit, the airport does offer free Wi-Fi.

    Broken: Map to conference center

    Karen Landis points us to this map to a conference center and writes:

    I thought about attending an event in September. I'm new to Chicago and have no idea where Northlake, IL or the Midwest Conference Center is. Happily, the event site provides a map. After pursuing this particular map, I still have no idea where Northlake or the conference center might be.

    In fact, I'm more confused. The arrows from the gray boxes look just like the directional arrows. The green hurt my eyes. I think the target destination is the squiggly "M" next to the words "Midwest Conference Center" spelled out in a red, green, blue combo but I'm not sure.

    I do appreciate that they offered a larger version of it in a PDF. Hard to figure out? Make it bigger!

    June 30, 2005 12:05 AM

    Broken: Ashtrays on planes

    AircashtrayAlexander Moseson writes:

    I recently took a Delta Airlines trip on an Airbus A321. The cheesy video at the beginning of the flight said "No Smoking." The overhead lights said "No Smoking." Several other signs said "No Smoking."

    Yet there are ashtrays located in the lavatory, and in the aisle above the trashcan, and probably other places, too, for your smoking convenience. I asked a flight attendant about this, and she explained that the ashtrays were left in place incase a smoker had a panic attack and needed to smoke while in flight.

    [Note: Picture from an Air Canada flight, taken by a reader submitting a similar entry in 2006. -mh]

    June 28, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Hotel room warning

    WhyBrooks Protzmann points out this sticker, on the ceiling of his San Francisco hotel bathroom. He writes, "My question is, has this happened often? If so, I STILL could not find a hook anywhere in the bathroom."

    June 13, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Discovery Channel book spelling

    Dsc01277I found this in a neighborhood bookstore just a few weeks ago. This Discovery Channel "Insight Guide" to the Turkish Coast has one little problem: the book's title is misspelled! The cover shows the correct spelling, "Turkish Coast", but look at what's shown on the spine: TURKSIH COAST.

    May 25, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: British traffic lights

    Cimg0318_25OK, just one more on international traffic signage...

    Andrew Rollason writes:

    I took this picture of a set of traffic lights when I was back in London a few weeks ago.  There are many like this, and this is not the worst example by far.

    This combination of lights means "at this time you may go forward, but you should wait to turn right (but not in this lane)".  It must be part of a scheme to separate locals -- who have learnt to respond to the patterns of light instinctively -- from everyone else -- who can be seen screaching to halt at the red light, much to the chagrin of the locals and my amusement from the pavement/sidewalk.

    While the logic is technically correct (if you know that green arrows have priority over red circles which in turn take precedence over green circles) it's not particularly intuitive and it just doesn't feel right to pass the red light without slowing or stopping.  If you do make it past, don't look to your right as you'll see another signal for the same junction indicating a "stop" in all directions.

    May 24, 2005 12:10 AM

    Broken: (question) Words on pavement

    Multiline_road_markingsSimon Trew poses a question for TIB readers:

    In the UK, when text is written on the road surface, if several lines are needed then they proceed in the normal fashion from top to bottom (the top line being farthest away). In the US and Canada (and I think I have seen this elsewhere in continental Europe) they are written so that the nearest line is the start of the message. Being British I always find this rather strange since I read the message backwards, although no doubt the reverse is true for Americans, Canadians etc.

    I can see the logic in each (write it as you would on the page; write it so the first line is seen first). Which is better?

    March 8, 2005 12:01 AM

    Broken: title list

    AatitleOnline travel pioneer Terry Jones points out this list of honorifics over at as he says, "every title from Duchess to Swami!"

    Not exactly broken, but perhaps a bit excessive?

    February 28, 2005 04:34 PM

    Broken: Air Canada sticker

    Paul Schreiber points out an unfortunate spelling mistake on an Air Canada sticker.

    February 3, 2005 12:18 AM

    Broken: Days Inn shower handle

    Shower_wKris writes:

    I was initially confused by this warning in the shower at a Days Inn in Tucson, AZ.  Actually come to think of it, I am still confused.

    [And how is this a "scald guard"? -mh]

    January 12, 2005 10:55 AM

    Broken: Yahoo Travel form

    YtravelOnline travel pioneer Terry Jones sends us this Yahoo Travel form and writes: "I never saw any travel program in history that listed TO as the first entry... it's like having the gas pedal on the left."

    January 11, 2005 12:12 AM

    Broken: US Visit kiosks

    HomelandsJoi Ito reports: US closed for the day.
    Thanks to Paul Saffo for the photograph.



    January 5, 2005 01:23 PM

    Broken: Vegas hotel TV

    Harry McCracken, in Las Vegas for CES, writes from his hotel room: Hey, My TV Just Crashed!

    P.S. On a separate note, notice the new search function on This Is Broken - see the left-hand column on this page. -mh

    December 10, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Hotel soap combos

    Image004_copyTerry Jones writes:

    You have certainly noticed the laudable trend of hotels that provide liquid soap and shampoo in showers to save the cost of all those little soaps. Most hotels do it like this, with one bottle for soap and one for shampoo

    However on a Ferry from St. Petersberg, Russia to Tallinn, Estonia I noticed a disturbing new trend. The container said, "shower gel and conditioning shampoo", but there was only one lever and one hole (i.e. one liquid for both functions)

    This was topped in my hotel in Copenhagen when the container over the sink proclaimed: "Hand Soap, Shower Gel and Hair Shampoo".

    What's next? Soap, gel, shampoo, conditioner, hair restorer, colorizer, and motor oil? A universal solvent??

    [I have to say, I like Gel the best..   -mh]

    November 26, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: (follow-up) London Gatwick

    Seth Nelson writes...

    This a follow up to the previous This Is Broken post regarding the sign of airlines serving the terminals at London's Gatwick (YUCK! London's other airport is MUCH better) Airport. You know, "The following airlines operate out of this terminal except those listed below...", those signs?

    I went to that airport a couple weeks ago to return to Dallas, Texas after a three-week trip in England, and the signs were fixed! Too bad I don't have a picture though, but the signs now read: "This is (North/South) Terminal. The following airlines operate out of this terminal" and a list of airlines in that respective terminal would follow. The sign finally ends with "All other airlines operate out of (North/South) Terminal." These signs, of course, are located next to the trains that connect the two terminals together.

    October 29, 2004 12:25 AM

    Broken: American Airlines map legend

    AamapRob Borucki writes:

    The American Airlines route map, from the website, has nice little icons which represent different types of service in each city.  But what's the red square for Eureka/Arcata and Redding?!

    August 25, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Airport monitor burn-in

    burn-inSteven Winner writes:

    The Richmond, VA airport updated all its monitor screens with new plasma monitors to give passengers arrival and departure data. There are also plasma monitors beside each gate. These screens display basically the same information, in the same pattern, 24 hours a day.

    The problem is the "burn in" on the screens. The old tube monitors did not get it like these monitors do. Burned-in information can be seen on the plasma screen when it is blank, or even if the screen changes to another display. The burn in frequently makes it hard to read the new information that is being displayed.

    SOLUTION: There is a device called an "orbiter" that moves the screen position around slightly every few minutes, minimizing burn-in in just one place. Better yet, the airport should have waited for the LCD technology, which is now good enough to produce flat-screen monitors the same size as plasma flat-screens. LCD displays do not burn in.

    July 22, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: New York subway turnstiles

    turnstileNote: Alex Yourke sent an abbreviated version of the post below to the New York Times - it was published as a letter to the editor yesterday. Nice work, Alex!

    Alex Yourke writes:

    New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority made a huge mistake when they installed the MetroCard turnstiles a few years ago, a mistake that adds to congestion, confusion and annoyance in the subway and should have been obvious during testing (and could probably still be corrected without huge expenditures):

    The "beep" sound when your MetroCard slides through properly, unlocking the turnstile, is EXACTLY THE SAME TONE as the "beep" sound when it does not.

    This requires every user to peer at the lit "Entry" arrow to determine if the card reader was able to read the card. If the arrow is colored red, the user needs to squint at the dimly-lit LED display below to determine why - insufficient funds on the card, or more often, "swipe card again at same turnstile". Cards often have to be swiped several times before the arrow shows green and the turnstile unlocks. Either way, the beep sound is the same!

    It doesn't take a usability expert to see how this adds to congestion during rush hour. New Yorkers are focused on getting to their train, but the system unnecessarily forces them to consult this turnstile panel every time. Impatient male riders (like myself) who assume the card was properly read are likely to experience the particular displeasure of colliding with a locked turnstile bar.

    Wouldn't it make more sense if there was a DIFFERENT BEEP in different cases? One beep if the card reading was successful; a different beep if it failed. Either way, you could just sail right through the turnstile without backing up and looking at the panel to make sure the Entry arrow is green.

    July 14, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Ferry terminal sign

    P0003864Chris St. Pierre writes:

    I took this picture walking into the terminal to the passenger port in Stockholm, Sweden. I was trying to go to Tallinn, Estonia, and I paused there for more than a few minutes trying to figure out which way to go. (Tallinn is listed in both directions.) I eventually guessed right, and was right.

    March 24, 2004 12:12 AM

    Broken: RV park pavement

    Bob Sifniades writes:

    A recreational vehicle (RV) is best enjoyed when it's parked on a level spot. If it's not level, you can always drive up onto a board or two. When we pulled into the Park Avenue RV Park in Prince Rupert, BC, Canada in 2001, we found the spots to be very un-level-- as demonstrated by our very brave neighbors! We chickened out, not wanting to drive up on 15 inches of teetering boards. Sites specifically designed for parking RVs should be a lot flatter! This was by far the worst we saw in our three weeks of touring.

    March 15, 2004 12:30 AM

    Broken: Flight arrival monitor

    Amaury Jacquot writes:

    I took a picture of this flight arrival monitor at the Las Vegas McCarran airport. You'd expect these to be pretty simple systems, with some sort of embedded OS. Think again! They use Windows 2000 Professional, and thus crash every now and then.

    February 23, 2004 12:56 AM

    Broken: Madrid Metro TV screens

    Mark Waters writes from Madrid:

    The Madrid Metro (subway) TV channel runs on Windows 2000 Professional, that is, when it runs at all.

    The attached picture shows an error message 'File Not Found', proclaimed proudly for all the world to see. This appears on screens at the subway stops and on the trains themselves.

    I have also witnessed the following:

    - 'It is now safe to shutdown your computer'
    - Memory address errors
    - 'Loose cable or connection' errors
    - 'Cannot find Wireless Network'
    - The Windows Desktop with Explorer open and the directory structure and files visible to the world.
    - and of course the infamous 'CRTL-ALT-DEL' blue screen

    I imagine that commuters who are computer users and are travelling home from the office after another day of struggling with Windows must feel they are living a waking nightmare. I can't imagine how those commuters who are not familiar with Windows digest all the warnings and alerts which the Metro TV is spewing at them.

    I hope they're using something more robust for the signalling system.

    January 20, 2004 02:51 AM

    Broken: Another hotel card key

    Daniel Brown writes in with another broken hotel card key:

    I've seen some puzzling card keys, but this one took the cake. With the two snuggly bedmates facing me (right-side up), I slid the key into the door and got no response. 6 or 7 tries later, something compelled me to look at the key more closely. Upon moving my thumb, I realized that the directions on how to use the key were under it. The people in the bed had to be inserted feet-first into the door.

    January 19, 2004 02:50 AM

    Broken: Hotel card key

    Daniel Brown writes:

    The card key in some hotels needs to be placed in a slot to "turn on" the room (lights, A/C or heating, etc.) In the picture, the grey thing at the top is the card key inserted into the switch making one question the purpose of the arrow. They're apparently indicating the DIRECTION the card key should travel when being inserted and not the destination of it.

    January 13, 2004 03:17 AM

    Broken: BART ticket vending

    Carl Myhill writes:

    I have rarely seen quite such a display of baffling and inconsistent user interfaces - all intended to 'help' you buy a ticket for the BART train in San Francisco.

    December 22, 2003 03:45 AM

    Broken: Austin, TX

    Jim Neeley writes:

    At the main entrance to the gates at the Austin airport, you're directed left for gates 1-11 and right for gates 12-25. Simple, except that gate 11 is actually to the right! One doesn't exactly want to have to backtrack to find one's gate while lugging two carry-ons, does one?
    (I'll note that other than this small inconsistency, Austin is one of my favorite airports in the country. Great architecture and good local food, served right there in the terminal. Definitely a good experience. -mh)

    December 5, 2003 03:16 AM

    Broken: Budget rent-a-car phone

    Just so Thrifty doesn't feel alone here at This Is Broken...

    Craig Theisen writes from New Jersey:

    This sign at the Philadelphia International Airport baggage claim area is self-explanatory. Obviously, if you want to get a pick-up from Budget, you're going to have to go outside and wait and hope the bus is running.

    December 4, 2003 03:09 AM

    Broken: Virgin Atlantic baggage form

      Dave Lawrence writes:

    On a trip back from Washington on Mr. Branson's finest, my luggage was delayed at Terminal 3. I waited around 30 minutes and alerted the baggage staff, who were on the lookout for my case.

    Before it eventually appeared, this is the "Contents Questionnaire" I had to fill in [click on graphics to see both sides of the form].

    "What have I got in my bag, Mr. Customs Man? Oh, the usual sort of things: A shirt, a skirt, a mechanic, an infant, hair, weather and electricity, and yes, I did pack my bag myself."

    November 20, 2003 02:33 AM

    Broken: Amtrak's Acela restroom locks

     Kris Arnold writes:

    Taking a trip on Amtrak's Acela service (which, as a whole, was very nice), I saw several incidents where passengers opened unlocked restroom doors on other passengers who were using the facilities.

    The lock/unlock sign in the restroom seems to indicate that moving the vertical handle to the left will lock the door. But pulling the lever to the left latches the door shut. It doesn't lock the door, which still can be opened from the outside.

    The actual locking mechanism is the small, recessed switch below the handle. It shows a bit of red when in the locked position, green when unlocked. Unfortunately, given the position of the sign and the small size of the mechanism, it's easy to overlook it and think the door is locked when it actually is not.

    Here are two photos taken from inside the restroom: the first photo taken from a standing position trying to approximate what a passenger would see; the second taken straight on. Both are a bit blurry since they were taken on a moving train.

    November 12, 2003 03:03 AM

    Broken: No-smoking ashtray

    Tobin Stearns writes:

    I always ask for a non-smoking room when I travel. The old scent of cigarette smoke is annoying, tends to get installed in my fresh clothing and can keep me up at night. So, when I stayed in a Motel 6 recently, I requested an upstairs, non-smoking room.

    When I went up to our room, I was pleased to see a No Smoking sign on the door, and another sign inside the room.

    But, when I looked a little closer, I noticed that the notice inside the room was on an ashtray - ?

    Are you supposed to go stand outside your room with the ashtray in your hand? I dunno.

    November 3, 2003 03:01 AM

    Broken: Gas pump

    Mark Towfiq writes that this interface at a gas station kept showing the error message ""Undef Index : 24 in Predef Table". Also broken, in my opinion, is the set of instructions to get a receipt. Whatever happened to "Press YES for receipt"?

    October 30, 2003 03:01 AM

    Broken: First Class seating

    Leigh Duncan writes:

    Ahh, First Class on Northwest Airlines. You have to straddle the cold metal seat bracket and figure out who gets to use the middle foot area -- the only compartment big enough for a briefcase. Once a bag is in place on the floor, there is almost no room is left for feet. So, passengers are then forced into further discomfort as they avoid kicking the bag or shove both feet to one side of the bracket.

    Of course, you can flip down the "foot rest" -- but the height is really set for average to short legs -- so the effect is not much better than riding coach.

    October 22, 2003 12:44 AM

    Broken: Train indicator

    Alexander Colville writes from Woking, England:

    This is a picture of the air conditioning status indicator onboard a British train - taken while in motion, so excuse the fuzziness.

    I can just about cope with the light labelled with a single exclamation mark, but the second, with two, has got to make you start to worry...

    October 13, 2003 10:18 AM

    Broken: Cottage sign

    Darryl de Necker writes from South Africa:

    This sign for a guest house was found in Simon's Town, South Africa, while we were out watching the whales off the coast... it speaks for itself really... a picture of a dolphin for the Whale Cottage... very broken indeed.

    September 24, 2003 10:59 AM

    Broken: Exit sign

    Iain Tait writes from London:

    It's almost surrealist in its absurdity.

    From a recent trip to the States, the photo was taken at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.

    September 19, 2003 11:03 AM

    Broken: Airline safety card

    Ole Hopland writes from Norway:

    This image is taken from the safety card on Premiair Airlines. I interpret it as follows: I should buckle up, and place the seat in an upright position. I guess I'm supposed to be in the seat while doing this, but OK. Am I really expected to place my hand baggage under my own seat, from behind? And should I fold up the table belonging to the person behind me? I guess the illustration in the circle is telling me I have to unbuckle in order to do this.

    The final preparation for take off is to take the life vest out from under the seat and throw it out of the window, and watch it float in the water alone.

    September 18, 2003 11:22 PM

    Broken: TV in taxi

    Tracey Haun writes in:

    This photo of the [Microsoft Windows] "blue screen of death" was taken in a taxi in Manhattan a few weeks ago. So which one is more broken, the operating system or the fact that cabs have video screens?

    Fortunately, this problem has been fixed. According to this New York Times article, the TV's are gone - soon will be - from New York's taxi fleet. (The fix came as a result of the Taxi and Limousine Commission listening to users. The commissioner is quoted as saying, "Our surveys indicated that those who experienced the units showed either indifference or negativity.")

    September 17, 2003 11:24 PM

    Broken: Subway door warning

    Haim Hirsch took a picture from inside a New York City subway, and writes:

    The "Do not lean on door" sign is pretty good, but how about "Do not hold doors": How would someone read that sign [affixed to the door] when the door is open - the time when they should not do the holding?

    (And do they really expect New Yorkers to heed that sign ;-)  - perhaps some uncomfortable - but not actually dangerous - bristles along the edge of the doors to dissuade door-holding.)

    September 16, 2003 11:26 PM

    Broken: Hotel exit sign

    Steve Jackson writes in:

    This is from the Tremont Hotel in Chicago. The dueling exit signs appear to point to the door in the middle, which is actually room 607. I'm guessing whoever's in there isn't real happy whenever a fire alarm goes off.

    September 8, 2003 11:33 PM

    Broken: Newark Airport

    For the next several weeks, do not fly into, or out of, Newark Liberty International Airport. Instead, use either of New York's other major airports: JFK or LaGuardia.

    One of Newark Airport's runways is being resurfaced for the next month or so. As far as I can tell, every single flight going into or out of Newark is delayed.

    There's also a safety issue, as I found out last night, flying into Newark (on a delayed flight, of course). As we came in for landing, the pilot gunned the engine, aborted the landing, and flew around to get back in the long line of planes for another landing attempt.

    Why did he abort the landing? There was another plane on the runway. In the pilot's words, "too many planes and too little runway space."

    Safety issues and across-the-board delays: do not fly Newark.

    September 3, 2003 11:37 PM

    Broken: Bike path signage

     The bike path on the west side of Manhattan is a local favorite. Don't get me wrong - we love the bike path.

    The only problem is that the signage can be confusing. In the first picture, two stop signs compete with two green lights. Should the cyclist stop or go? Also notice that it's hard to tell that the trail isn't for walkers. Painted on the pavement just above the cyclist icon is the rollerblader icon, which looks an awful lot like a person walking.

    The second picture shows the markings on the pavement - triangles and perpendicular stripes - that (I assume) tell cyclists to slow down, stop if necessary, and allow pedestrians to cross at the crosswalk. But that's just a guess.

    Thanks to Peter Frishauf for the photos. He points us to "They are actually taking
    legal action over the stop signs.....apparently they are a violation of state law."

    August 21, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: London airport sign

     Glen Raphael writes from London:

    Imagine a London Gatwick airport passenger in a hurry. He sees the sign pictured below and skims enough to recognize it as saying "This is South Terminal. All airlines operate from this terminal blah blah blah" followed by a list of airlines. Looking down the alphabetical list of airlines, he finds British Air, the airline he's looking for. "Great! I'm in the right place!" he thinks. After wandering about South Terminal for a while and not finding British Air, our passenger goes back to the sign and reads it more carefully.

    As it turns out, the sign is an exclusion list; it features a long and imposing list of all the airlines that aren't in this general area. The full text at the top of the sign says "This is South Terminal. All airlines operate from this Terminal EXCEPT those listed below which operate from North Terminal" (emphasis added).

    August 4, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: E-mail-to-Web handoff

    Phil Terry forwards the monthly update of the American Museum of Natural History, which includes a promo for "reefer madness" in Australia:

    >************** D I S C O V E R Y T O U R *****************
    >Reefer madness in Aussieland! Get up close and personal with the
    >Great Barrier Reef on this amazing snorkeling adventure.
    The e-mail promo is fine. What's broken is the page you get when you click on the link. There's no mention whatsoever of the Australia trip. As Phil notes, "To find the Barrier Reef adventure, you have to click By Region and then scroll down two screens to find it."

    July 22, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Ferry boat name

    Sandra Dainora took this picture from her Palm handheld. She writes:

    The ferry that takes tourists back from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to Manhattan is called "Miss New Jersey." Countless times I have watched person after person ask the boat crew whether their final destination was actually Battery Park [in Manhattan, essentially in the opposite direction from New Jersey].

    Not a good experience for out-of-towners - or in-towners, for that matter. I personally had the same moment of doubt when I stepped onto the boat.

    Update: A couple of readers have written in with the same response - "the ferry's name is quite apt -- that's the boat you need to take if you want to 'miss New Jersey.'"

    July 10, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Highway signs

     Two today from Amy Dalton in Pittsburgh, PA.
    First picture: Which direction would you turn to get onto highway 19? (Hint: You guessed wrong. Click to see the larger image.)
    Second picture: Can you imagine trying to figure this out at 60 miles an hour (100 kph)?

    July 2, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Dangerous intersections

    Found on the State Farm site: the 10 most dangerous intersections in the U.S. Photos aren't as damning as you might expect, but I'd guess their list is accurate, since they have data on where the most crashes occur.
    (Click the image to zoom in.)

    July 1, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Airport sign

     From Chicago's Midway Airport... Mordechai Rosner couldn't find the information center, until he finally found it under this broken sign - a chilling example of what happens when users aren't accounted for in the design process. He writes, "even signage needs a proofreader!"

    June 27, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: (Might be fixed!) Hotel phone charges

    We're already making a difference! Readers of my Good Experience newsletter (sign up by emailing will remember that I wrote a piece recently on Customer Experience and Hotels, talking about exorbitant phone charges at San Francisco's Palace Hotel.
    Bryan Mazzarello forwarded the column to the Palace and got back this response:

    Thank you for bringing the article regarding the Palace Hotel phone charges to our attention.

    Your comments have been forwarded to our Executive Office. We are currently reevaluating our rates and how they differ from other hotels in San Francisco that are members of our comparitive set.

    Thank you again for your time in responding and we shall endeavor to adjust rates accordingly.

    Looks like we might decrease the phone charges at the Palace.
    Keep sending in your pointers, photos, articles, stories!
    P.S. Yesterday Scott Kilborn pointed out this New York Times article about travel experiences - most of them broken:
    "I said, `I do not really care if you clean the room or not, but I expect that my room rate includes the room being cleaned,' " Mr. Hanson recalled telling the clerk. "It's like if you went to a restaurant for dinner, and they charged extra for sitting in a chair or using a knife."

    June 26, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Restroom sign

    Seen at a rest stop between Washington, DC and Raleigh, NC. These signs are on the interior of a bathroom stall door.

    Thanks to Libby Cecchi!

    (Click the image to zoom in.)

    June 24, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Airport Windows errors

     Lukas Oberhuber risked life and limb to take these pictures in European airports. The obvious question to the airline: If you can't keep your Windows-based displays from reverting to DOS error messages, do I really want to fly on your planes?

    (Click the images to zoom in.)

    June 20, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Hotel pool hours

    Here's the pool at an Embassy Suites hotel in Austin, Texas.

    The sign reads "Pool Hours, 9 AM - 10 PM".

    This business hotel closes the pool at exactly the hours when business travelers would want to use it.

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