The quiet “ding!” told me more than MassDOT could put on a giant sign full of words.

A bicycle was approaching on the shared-use trail. I was safe, but I shouldn’t suddenly stand up and back away from the flowers I was looking at.

In Massachusetts highway signs are apparently run by the marketing department. A MassDOT trail sign would be electronic, blinking a series of messages:

“Share the trail”

“Or go to jail”

“Hug the dirt”

“And don’t get hurt”

They wouldn’t tell me anything useful, and would divert my attention from things I need to know.

On a long-ago trip home from college the driver interrupted the conversation to say “that’s a useful sign”. He wasn’t talking about a billboard size word sign. He was talking about the smallest sign there is, a “delineator“. That’s a 3 inch reflective diamond.

That little sign says “this is not a road.” When you see one directly ahead on a dark night, it tells you there is a curve. You don’t have to read it. You don’t have to figure out if you can afford the fine. You just have to follow your normal driving instinct and avoid hitting it.

The warning signs where I live mostly say things like “dangerous intersection” (a useless variant of the standard ➕) and “thickly settled” (“it’s safe to drive faster than 30 but the city council wants you to drive slower than 30”).

Maybe if reflective sheeting cost a few hundred dollars per square foot instead of a few dollars, the bean counters would tell the blabbermouths to quiet down.

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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