Traffic signs can blend into the background

The in basket:  I often hear from readers who find the array of traffic signals on eastbound 11th Street at Warren Avenue in Bremerton confusing. There are four signal heads for three lanes, and the right-most two control only the outside lane, but give some drivers the impression going straight in the centermost eastbound lane is permissible.

It’s not, both inner lanes are for left turns only.

So I was surprised the other day when I spotted two signs beside the street as I approached the intersection. They said only traffic in the right lane is allowed to go straight.

I asked Gunnar Fridriksson, Bremerton’s managing street engineer, if they had recently been added because of comments about confusion at the intersection, or had they been there since the intersection was revised a year ago.

The out basket: Another surprise. They’d been there a lot longer than that. Gunnar said, “Probably put in place 20-plus years ago when the lanes were originally configured (with) the two lanes being left turning. Been there all this time.”

He’s remarked before that the recent revision didn’t change the number of signal heads or what lanes they control. For some reason, confusion among drivers increased when the heads no longer hung from wires, but are installed on metal poles.

“The problem with signs,” he said, “if you are not looking for them – they tend not to be noticed.  (That’s) why I am not a proponent for adding to the clutter.”

He then sent along a public service video intended to raise consciousness about driver’s watching out for bicycles, but also illustrating that things in plain sight can go unnoticed if you’re watching for something else.

Perhaps you’ve seen it. It involves a bunch of people tossing basketballs around, and you are challenged to count the number of passes the ones dressed in white make. A man in a bear suit walks through the milling players, moon-walking part of the way, and I’m sure goes unnoticed – the first time – by the vast majority of those who see it and are occupied counting passes. I didn’t see him, even though I’d seen the video before.

Google ‘moonwalking bear” if you want to test your awareness. Even forewarned, you may be surprised.

One thought on “Traffic signs can blend into the background

  1. I was wondering who you contact regarding improper street signage, labeling, etc… in Bremerton? The intersection at 13th st & Warren Ave is a complete mess and very confusing! I have had people roll down their windows yelling at me that the Elizabeth side is a one-way, when all are two-ways and absolutely no one yields to oncoming traffic there for left hand turns. TIA

Leave a Reply to Kristen Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

(Not a trick question) What color is the pink house?