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Suddenly, I hate the look of my web site

When my wife asked me how to find my music on my web site, I knew I had stopped listening to my own advice.

Think of the reader!

This blog is way too chock full of stuff and garbage. So, beware of sudden design lurches in the days ahead as I experiment with vastly simpler templates and designs.

Pedestrian-unfriendly roadways

I earlier had linked to this post by a fellow PCAer Michael Bates over in Tulsa.

The story involves a college student who during games wears a mascot costume was struck and killed by a car along one of those busy multilane roads which also feature bustling hotels, restaurants and gas stations. He was probably walking to buy something to eat; since the team had arrived by bus, no one had a car.

As Michael says:

Even though a narrow strip of trees separates the hotel parking lot from a two lane city street (Jones Road), there is no access between that street and the hotel. The only pedestrian or vehicular access to the hotel property is via the westbound lanes of Highway 4. Even If he had made it to Jones Road, he’d have had to walk at least half a mile to find a place for a Coke and something cheap to eat.

There was no place to walk, except along the busy highway. Thus was Michael’s post titled, “Death by bad urban design.”

Here is the comment I left at Michael’s blog:

The big problem is that these kinds of roads are trying to be two opposing things at once: A business district and a thoroughfare.

This could be an example of interstate-itis: Since traffic there is so heavy, pedestrians would only get in the way of the flow. So traffic engineers simply design pedestrians out of the equation, for the same reason pedestrians are barred from interstate highways.

But too many people, myself included, still believe that if you can see a building, you should be able to walk to it. Traffic engineers must realize and try to anticipate pedestrian traffic.

Fort Wayne is similar in many areas. I’ll have to post on that, though, another day.

Poorly designed web site makes me go ‘Urgh!’

Follow along with me and see how, despite my technological savvy, I signed up Caleb for the wrong fencing class:

  • Go to the Fort Wayne Parks web page.
  • Click “Fun Times/On-line Registration.”
  • Click “Youth Activities.”
  • Click “Kids Stuff.”
  • Click “Activities.”
  • Scroll down until you find “Fencing” and click on “Fencing Fun for Everyone – Continuing.”
  • Mistakenly sign up your 14-year-old son for an adult class because all of the adult classes are listed along with the youth ones. (The youth one was actually called “En Garde: Fencing.”)
  • Hear from coach that you have to call the parks department and change your registration.
  • Call and hear very friendly lady say, “I can understand how you made a mistake.”
  • Do not agree with nice lady. You did not make a mistake. But don’t be mean; she really is nice.

Today’s lesson: If the technology is poorly designed and leads you to the wrong link, it is not your fault. Do not feel stupid!

Thanks for coming!

A lof of people showed up at The Anchor Room last night. I hope you enjoyed the music!

If you’re aware of other venues or churches where I could possibly play, please leave a comment.

Next gig: June 15 at The Anchor Room in Fort Wayne.

Gig tonight!

Friends,

Don’t forget that I’m at The Anchor Room here in Fort Wayne tonight from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

I hope you can make it!

If you can’t, my next gig won’t be until June 15, unless I can get something else scheduled.

In any case, thanks for your support and interest.

Gig this Friday @ The Anchor Room

Hey! I havn’t posted a lot of fresh content here lately, but I’ve been busy with lots of other projects, like teaching my boys chemistry.

But put this in your calendar and smoke it: I’ll be at The Anchor Room here in Fort Wayne on Friday beginning at 7:30 p.m.

I hope to be able to bring some new songs and air them out a bit.

Hope to see you there!

Can exit signs save lives?

Did the design of an exit ramp contribute to a crash that killed six people?

Four college baseball players from northwest Ohio, a bus driver and his wife died this weekend when the bus barreled down an Atlanta exit ramp at highway speed, careened off an overpass and crashed onto the highway below. The bus had no mechanical problems; witnesses said the driver wasn’t distracted by a cell phone or CB radio.

So, what did the driver see? Watch this very short video: A driver’s perspective of the exit.

Evidently, the driver never knew he was on an offramp until just before the crash. So, is there anything in the design of the ramp that is potentially confusing to drivers? (Remember that although the video was taken during daylight hours, the crash happened before dawn.)

A good rule about highway design is overexplain the exceptions. A normal expressway has two or more lanes going in the smae direction with off ramps on the right.

The Atlanta expressway has several lanes. But it includes an HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane as the far left one, separated by a double-white line. And then the exit goes off to the left.

How could the driver have missed the information that this is an exit ramp?

1) The unspoken “rule” about this highway is that the far left lane is the HOV lane. If an exit opens on the left, it’s easy for a driver to wrongly assume that the new “left lane” an HOV lane, not an exit.

2) The overhead exit sign is white, instead of the standard green. It also doesn’t mention the word “Exit.”

3) At the bottom of this video grab, see the diamond? That’s the symbol for the HOV lane. Why was this symbol on the exit ramp? Evidently, it’s to keep non-HOV vehicles from using this off ramp. But it could also confuse drivers into thinking this is an actual HOV lane on the highway, not an exit ramp.

4) Like the overhead sign, this exit sign is white instead of the standard green. Directional signs are all supposed to be green. White signs are reserved for utilitarian purposes, such as speed limits.

5) There are no yellow “Ramp Speed Limit” signs. They’re common on exit ramps around Indiana. Such signs would have been a needful warning.

6) Finally, here are the first signs that are actually the correct colors. The small yellow signs say “300 FEET.” Not a lot of space to spot a bus.

But place yourself in the position of a driver who missed the previous signs. What would you do if you were driving down the interstate going 65 mph and passed a Stop Ahead sign? Would you doubt yourself? Would you slam on the brakes, or would you think you must have read the Stop Ahead sign wrong?

So, it’s understandable that the driver’s first realization that this is no longer an interstate happens here, at the very top of the ramp, way too late to slow down a speeding bus.

It’s my opinion that using nonstandard colors for the exit signs, along with a lack of extra signage for an unusual exit, may have been a contributing factor in the crash.

UPDATE: A highway sign expert says ramp exit sign could be a “killer.”

UPDATE: DOT plays down exit ramp debate