Give me a Sign! (Never Mind. Just fix the ones we have)

What's My Lane?

Personality: Oh, what people put on, do to or do in their cars!





Updated 2005-05-01
The images shown here are original, unaltered photographs taken in generally public places. All comments are strictly the personal opinion of the photographer. No photographs or comments are misleading, or known to be false.

Click to view QuickTime™ Video

There was this big baseball game in New York the evening I wanted to have a burger and a beer in Boston. I couldn't find a nearby parking space, due to these signs. What is it that all these people know about parking enforcement in Boston that I don't?


Click to view QuickTime™ Video
"Newbury Street Slalom Course" -- Notice that the car parked in a legal spot gets a ticket for being there beyond the alotted time, but cars frequently blocking entire lanes of this heavy-traffic road don't seem to draw the same attention from meter readers.


Harvard Ave., Allston (Boston), MA -2004-08-20

Can you say "Doubleparkedanddrivingfacingthewrongdirection?"

I just love to watch traffic on this road squeeze between double-parked trucks on both sides.

Harvard Ave., Allston (Boston), MA -2004-08-20

Harvard Ave., Allston (Boston), MA -2004-09-13


It's very difficult to stay on your side of the yellow lines sometimes. Worse still, other vehicles, having crossed the line, come barrelling toward you, and assume you're the one that has to make way. Wrong-O!


Harvard Ave., Allston (Boston), MA -2004-08-27

Pure genius!

Faulkner Hospital, Boston, MA -2004-11-02

Blind... stupid... or both?

Pearl St., Newton Corner (Newton), MA -2005-03-23

What IS this truck trailer doing parked in my lane?

If someone leaves a backpack in a bus station, people will freak.

What if someone left a whole trailer unattended in YOUR neighborhood?

Brighton Ave., Allston (Boston), MA - 2004-09-24

"Okay, George: Pay attention. Here are the plans for the renovation. We're going to tear out this wall here... install cabinets there... move some furniture around... replace the refrigerator... install a dishwasher... Gosh, I wish we had a real conference room."

Commonwealth Ave., Brighton (Boston), MA - 2005-03-16

I have often said that the warning on plastic milk crates, "penalty for misuse" is moot because you can use them for anything."

I was wrong. You can misuse them.

Believe it orr not, this car was up on three milk crates and had at least three wheels missing. I'm not sure if this was a crime, a prank, or just resourcefulness.

CVS Pharmacy, Watertown Square, Watertown, MA -2005-01-05

Why... how... is this taxi parked here?

Microcenter, Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA -2005-01-29

Four cars triple-parked next to these legal spaces. Go ahead... just make your own spots. We'll just drive around you just fine.

CVS Pharmacy, Watertown Square, Watertown, MA -2005-02-22

I'm running out of words to describe this inconsiderate behavior.

Lincoln St., Allston, MA -2005-04-07

No excuse whatsoever for parking this truck so far from the curb that there's no room for even a car to pass.

Yet this is way too common practice.

Watertown Mall, Watertown, MA -2005-05-31


Cambridgeside Galleria Mall, Cambridge, MA -2005-03-25

Once one person does it, you know the rest will...


After this second car triple-parked, there was almost not enough room for me to get out of my spot across the aisle.

River Street shopping plaza, Waltham, MA - 2005-3-10

Like there aren't enough clues to indicate this is not a place to park your toy.

Brighton Ave., Allston (Boston), MA -2004-11-05

Is there a reason why this sign is still here... after FIVE YEARS?

Prudential Center Parking Garage, Boston, MA - 2001-12-09

I gave these folks a real piece of my mind back in 2001 when they tried to charge me more than I expected to pay for parking here. There are no parking rate signs at the entrance to the garage. I asked the security agent at the entrance what the rates were, and was given an entirely different amount than the higher rate they tried to charge me at the exit.

PLEASE PUT SIGNS AT (OR BEFORE) THE ENTRANCE TO YOUR GARAGE!!! A customer shouldn't need to go all the way down the one-way entrance tunnel to find out, either.


Prudential Center Parking Garage, Boston, MA - 2001-12-09

Conflicting signals: The big arrow, above, tells you that parking is either straight ahead or to the right.

True, except the parking that's straight ahead is behind the elevator, which you would NOT want to drive through in the process.

- - -

Furthermore, I gave these folks a real piece of my mind when they tried to charge me more than I expected to pay for parking here. There are no parking rate signs at the entrance to the garage. I asked the security agent at the entrance what the rates were, and was given an entirely different amount than the higher rate they tried to charge me at the exit.


Shaws Supermarket (formerly Star Market), Commonwealth Ave., Allston, MA - 2003-07-11

Why even bother painting arrows that are going to cause an accident???


Boston area - 2003-05-09

Can you believe this person 'parked' the car sticking out into traffic like this?

Fresh Pond area, Cambridge, MA - 2001-08-13

Malden, MA - 2001-09-06


What is it about drug stores that inspires such ignorant parking?


South End neighborhood, Boston, MA - 2002-08-31

No parking spots? No problem! (How is this POSSIBLE?!?)

JFK St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA - 1998-10-07

There's always plenty of cars PARKED here in this NO STOPPING zone. Why?

What's even stranger is that the Cambridge Police are constantly haunting this corner to pull over stop sign violators (this is a terrible intersection. Two one-way streets cross, but only one has a stop sign. There should at least be a stop sign for both, if not an actual traffic signal light!)

Central Square, Cambridge, MA - 2004-10-16

How many "No Parking" signs are necessary to keep people like this from parking there?

Double-parked SUV. Church St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA - 2002-05-07

Bravo, mystery citizen!

I see I'm not the only one that leaves neon orange messages for owners of poorly parked cars. But this sticker affixed to the window is phenomenal artwork. Nice job. But what about the date & time? Not important, I would think.


Rear View Mirror Tag Disabled Person Parking Permit, Nashville, TN - 2002-09-04
  • If it's "Permanent," why does it expire?
  • Why is the expiration date above the number, but the legend "Permit No." above the date instead? (Picky, picky... I know)

Parking Garage, Vanderbilt Hospital, Nashville, TN - 2002-09-02

Rule of thumb:

If your car looks and/or handles more like a boat, it isn't a compact.

(True, however, the 'compact only' parking spots in this garage seemed to be just as spacious as those that were not restricted.)

Wayne Alarm Systems Van, Belmont St., Belmont, MA - 2002-04-30

Hey, Wayne... how far onto the sidewalk can you get your van? Did you realize that there's not enough room for a bicycle or wheel chair to get around you? Did you notice that pedestrians now must walk through the mud to get around your van?

Newbury St., Boston, MA - 2002-03-29

Unless you got flashing lights on it... Park it, baby!

Boston, MA - 2002-03-29

I just don't get it: why mostly delivery trucks (and sometimes cars) "collect" parking tickets like this. This Pepsi driver, for example, hasn't bothered to take the FOUR tickets off his truck before moving on.

The tickets are not going to go away by ignoring them. Well, actually, they might fall off in traffic eventually. But when that happens, the company that owns the truck gets in even deeper trouble with extra fines and late fees. Why not avoid this kind of trouble?

And why not park legally in the first place?

That's what "loading zones" are for!


Reedsdale St., Allston, MA - 2002-03-06

Conflicting indications: Yellow ("no parking") curb, but with a 2-hour parking permitted sign. Which to believe???

Washington St., Brighton Center, MA - 2001-11-04

Paul Evans, Commissioner, Boston Police Department
Thomas Menino, Mayor, City of Boston


I am writing with respect to the signage posted by the Boston Department of Transportation for the Allston-Brighton parade this past weekend, 2001-11-04.

These signs were posted at least a day before the parade, so as to allow time for parked vehicles to be cleared from the parade route. These signs not only do not specify a time range during which the restriction was in effect, but also were not removed within a reasonable time period following the end of the parade. Why? Because the DOT doesn't work on Sundays.

I spoke with Richard ("Dick") Loring in the Permits office of the Boston DOT earlier this week. He explained to me that the DOT ran out of signs normally used for parades. It was unclear to me if these "Parade" signs also lack a effective time range. Instead, the DOT used generic "No Stopping Any Time ______" signs with a sticker for the word "Sunday" affixed to them. Nonetheless, there was still ample space on the signs to have written in the effective time range of the restriction. It was not.

Why is this an issue at all to me? Because I felt like a real idiot trying to find a legal parking space on Sunday Evening with all those "No Stopping Any Time" signs all over Washington Street in Brighton Center; especially when there were plenty of other vehicles parked by these signs.

And rightly so, since these drivers (and I) expected that parking in normally legal spaces was allowed that evening, regardless of the contradictory signs. I just didn't feel it was worth the risk, as a normally law-abiding motorist, to blatantly disobey such a clear directive.

As Dick Loring confirmed to me, the Boston Police had every right to ticket or even tow vehicles parked near these signs after the parade crowd cleared away. That was my concern. Of course, the Boston Police in all likelihood were not enforcing this parking ban. But how was I to know for sure? Why is this still such an issue to me? Because although I know full well that you shouldn't believe everything you read, traffic signs shouldn't be open to such interpretation! This state is chock-full of missing, misleading and confusing traffic signs, indicators, and lane markings. This leads to an increasing distrust, nay, contempt for (at least sensible) traffic rules and regulations. That is, if a driver has the intention and intelligence to drive legally in the first place.

I've spent the first 30 years of my life trying to play the game according to the rules... if only "they" would tell me what the rules were. That's usually not the case. I am now more inclined to playing the game by whatever you can get away with, which appears to be the real rules.

This is not good for society in general. Though it may sound silly, I have arrived at the unfortunate and pessimistic philosophy that there is no hope for peace in the world if motorists can't even learn how to politely signal their request for a lane change.

I'm not really suggesting that cars should have been towed on Sunday, of course. But why this discrepancy between the posted signs ("the law") and enforcement thereof?

Sincerely, Erik S. Wegweiser


No reply was received from Police Commissioner Evans.

However, I did receive a reply on behalf of Mayor Menino. I may post that here eventually.

Downtown Crossing, Boston, MA - 2002-01-29

Once again, what is the reason for wasting space with the words "ANY TIME?" This sign is an oxymoron. Instead, make more room for the date and time during which you aren't allowed to park, so that this vital information is legible.

Boston University Parking Lot, 775 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA - 2001-11-04

YOU figure it out. I couldn't be certain if I could park here or not, even when someone else there said I could. There was no attendant there on the Sunday I tried.

Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 2001-08-28

File this under "Unclear on the Concept."

"You are the missing link... Goodbye!"

Brighton Ave., Allston (Boston), MA -2004-10-07

Yes, of course I did know there were the World Series baseball games going on that week. How could one not know?

However, not only was this sign nowhere near the baseball field, Fenway Park, but the game was not even being played in Boston.

And at what time? The sign doesn't say that.

I'm told that these signs were placed here to prevent cars from being overturned by roudy fans, should the Red Sox win.


...and what would happen if they lost?


Galen St., Watertown, MA - 2001-06-18

Aaaaaarrrrgh! -- What the hell is this supposed to mean? These are clearly parking spaces, so why is there a "No Parking" sign pointing toward them?!?

Arlington, MA - 2001-05-10

Where does it say parking is permitted at all between 7pm and 9am? I'm always afraid to assume I'm allowed to park during hours not indicated on signs like this.

I also hate parking meters that don't tell you the hours during which they are in effect (require coins).

Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA - 2000-07-31

As if parking in the Boston area weren't enough challenge, here we have to play "musical chairs" with a chair missing. Notice the white Subaru, parked semi-legally. The two cars behind have their meters. The cars in front have their meters. It would appear that the City of Cambridge has spaced its meters particularly absurdly here. The signs indicate two-hour parking, and there's no 'No Parking' sign above this non-metered space, so...?

Shaw's Supermarket (Formerly Star Market), Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, MA - 2000-11-14

This parking lot is incredibly botched. For starters, there are contradictory traffic arrows that direct vehicles toward each other. This sign also directs traffic to the right of the island, while the arrows direct traffic to either side.

There are two exits next to each other with their own problems. Although clearly marked "do not enter" on the other side, motorists continue to enter through one of these two exits. The real entrance is around the corner. Furthermore, for some reason, motorists continue to make left turns onto the main street from the right side of this exit, and right turns from the left side of this exit.

Sure, more signs might not help, but still the traffic patterns and markings here could be improved. This would decrease confusion and reduce the 'anarchy' caused by motorists interpreting vague directions incorrectly or ignoring them altogether.


Parking Garage, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA - 2000-06-27

Winding my way around this parking garage, I came face-to-face with this sign on a pillar. I had three choices: 1) drive to the left of the pillar; 2) drive to the right of the pillar; 3) give up and back out.

It is unclear which way (left or right) is the way cars are not supposed to enter!

Central Parking's Kinney System Parking Lot, Malden Center - 2000-01-20

No Way Out!

Aside from being run by surly attendants, what's really dumb about this commuter parking lot is that there is only one way in, and no way out! The only way into the lot is a one-lane access, marked with arrows pointing that way. I parked there, but when I tried to leave, I circled around inside the lot twice looking for the nonexistent exit. Apparently, customers are supposed to go the wrong way out, the same way they came in... heading straight into traffic entering the lot!

Harvard Ave. & Brighton Ave., Allston - 1999-06-09
I count three empty parking spaces there... sure would be nice if the truck pulled over a little instead of blocking a whole lane of traffic as well as access to legal parking!

Harvard & Commonwealth Ave., Allston - 1999-04-17

I count five cabs at this cab stand, plus three additional (and usually more) cabs parked illegally along the MBTA trolley stop "island." I was surprised to find out that this cab stand sign no longer indicates that there are only four cabs allowed to stop here. I do not know if this was changed, if whoever put up the sign forgot to add that information, or if someone removed it later. You can bet you'd get a nasty reaction from the cab drivers if you parked in their spot!

I can't say whether not being able to stop at the island is a good law or not, but if it is the law, it should be enforced. Otherwise, give the parking spots to the general public and let the taxis park along the island -- NOT both.

Boston - 1999-02-24

Boston - 1999-02-19

Manhattan, NYC - 1999-04-14
It figures that what should be an international standard isn't even agreed upon in one city. I'll add more example photos, but the point here is that those signs atop taxis from city to city or company to company aren't consistent, or even used. It's simple: If the light is on, the taxi should be for hire. If it's not on, the person on the street should be able to tell it's off duty. You can tell there's a taxi heading toward you long before you can tell if there's anyone in the back seat, and save yourself some goofy waving around for nothing. But usually these signs aren't even used. Other times, the signs are diametrically different. That is, sometimes the sign says "Off Duty" (I presume they are not for hire if the sign is on, which seems strange). Sometimes the sign says "Off Duty" on one side and "For Hire" on the other. Either way, why would anyone want to advertise that they are not available, as opposed to drawing attention to themselves if they're looking for a fare? No, it's not the law in Massachusetts, but it's a good idea...

I've been in contact with the Boston Hackney Bureau and with various Boston taxi company executives, and so far I haven't found anybody who says they are against my proposed system. So....?

Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 1998-11-07
Why are no stopping zones always the most popular parking spots?

Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 1999-03-01
Aw... c'mon! - If you're gonna park illegally, at least get outta the street! What are we trying to do here... break as many laws as we can at once?!?

Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 2001-04-09


Yawkey Way, Kenmore Square, Boston - 1998-10-24
I tried to rewrite this sign several times so it made sense, but I just couldn't. Does it mean you can't park here at all? Does it apply to everyone or just construction vehicles? When can someone (or just construction vehicles) park or stand here? It shouldn't be this difficult to figure out, for cyrin' out loud!

"Combat Zone," Boston, MA - August, 1990
Audi says that the "Radio will not work if removed from car" Obviously, this thief didn't see this sign before breaking the window... or they were after something else that would work if removed from the car... or maybe if only the radio did work if removed from the car, the car would still be there?

Four Seasons Hotel, Back Bay, Boston - 1999-03-13
Guests' cars parks (displayed?) on the sidewalk... but are they tempting fate?.... File this under "unclear on the concept."


Hopeless! - This parking fine notice has not two, but THREE different return addresses. Sheeeeesh!

 Give me a Sign! (Never Mind. Just fix the ones we have)

What's My Lane?

Personality: Oh, what people put on, do to or do in their cars!





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