Ramp arrows as barometer of societal enlightenment

Arrows are as old as our species. An arrow tells us which way to go.

An arrow pointing at us means “Halt!”. It can be offensive, threatening our metaphorical personal space. I suspect this “halt” use of an arrow is an older use than the next use of arrows:

Going with the arrow means going with the flow. An arrow can point you to “keep going”.

I have a theory that societal enlightenment can be measured by the direction of arrows on roads at pedestrian crossings (assuming your society has road signs 😛 )

Ireland’s ramp arrows tell you to “go with the flow”, even at pedestrian crossings. This is my prime example, from the lovely O’Callaghan Strand in Limerick:

This picture is the point of this post. We tell the driver to “go with the flow” DESPITE humans looking to cross this road. The direction of these arrows are a symptom of our societal views.

This may come from ramps, which themselves have “go with the flow” direction of arrows, for some strange reason:

Digger. But the point is that the direction of the arrows on the ramps.

In Ireland, we do have the concept of an arrow pointing at you, and it’s called the yield sign:

Big yield sign in Ireland. Yes indeed, we do have the concept of the “stop right there” arrow when we want to use it.

The Netherlands use the concept of the “arrow pointing at you”. They tell you to “give way”. They are called “shark teeth”:

Shark teeth in the Netherlands. They point at you. They are simple. They tell you “hold on a minute”. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Interestingly, we also have (larger) shark teeth in Limerick, but they point the wrong way!

Limerick’s use of giant “shark teeth”, pointing the wrong way! They are telling the driver “yes, drive straight over these humans who are walking on the footpath”.

So what’s going on here? In Ireland, we have underlying working assumptions:

  • Do not get in the way of another vehicle user (this is codified by road law)
  • You have the right of way in your metal propelled wheelchair over other humans who are choosing to move on foot (this is codified by our direction of arrows when designing roads where drivers are interacting with humans on foot)

This post is an optimistic one. It is in the hopes that we, in Ireland, can move towards “at-you” shark teeth, shown to vehicles users who are interacting with humans on foot.

Switzerland is not a fantastically-enlightened country for the public realm, but they are more enlightened that Ireland. Here’s a simple yield arrow to say “let that human cross, do not kill them”:

Simple crossing in Switzerland. A yield arrow before you get to the pedestrian crossing.

In Ireland, we’re still struggling to tell the driver to back off, it’s left to the human on foot to defend themselves:

The STOP is there for the driver. But it’s implicitly telling them to STOP at the long white line to the left. It is not telling you to stop for someone who is “LOOK STOPPing”.