Large vs. small prohibitory signs

Update: This was accomplished in April 2005.


Shown to scale: large vs. small sign. Click photos for a sample posting.

Large signs Small signs
Meant to be read by motorists Meant to be read only by walkers
Look like signs at freeway entrances Also exist on a few roads where walkers use one side
Mislead motorists to ignore walkers No impact on motorists
Unapproved, no State sign number Approved by Caltrans, State sign No. R43
Violate the Vehicle Code Are legal if and where a pedestrian ban is legal.
size = 35 x 28 inches size = 12 x 24 inches

While most expressway miles allow pedestrians, about half of the prohibitory signs remaining on expressways are the large type (above left). They look like signs at freeway entrances (immediate right), thus misleading motorists to not be aware of walkers, and need to be replaced by small signs (above right). In fact, large signs can legally only be posted on "freeways" and the text must be "Pedestrians Bicycles Motor-Driven Cycles Prohibited" (State sign No. R44, shown immediate right). Most walkers on expressways are actually crossing the expressway. This increases risk of fatalities. Evidence for this statement is:

The large signs are posted high and meant to be read by motorists. The small signs, in contrast, are posted lower down because they are meant to be read only by pedestrians. Few motorists would even notice them. If they do, these signs would be no different than for a few roads --most are bridges-- where walkers are restricted to one side. Note: No road, other than freeways, can ban walkers completely.

Large signs are illegal

The large signs not only increase collisions, they are also illegal because they are not on the list of Caltrans approved regulatory signs. None were removed despite informing Mr. Murdter (at the November 10, 2004 meeting, and again by email dated November 22), and even earlier, the Deputy County Executive by email of 7/27/04.

Links to violated Vehicle Code sections and State documents

Please see Caltransí California Sign Chart and notice that no such sign is approved. The Vehicle Code sections violated are 21401 (Conformity to Uniform Standards) and 21100.1 Traffic Control Devices --Uniform Standards while 21400 (Uniform Standards) provides information.

Small signs are free

More than enough small signs exist in storage to replace all large signs because MTS, SVBC and others --by requests to elected officials or prior Directors to comply with the law-- forced County highway engineers to remove most prohibitory signs from expressways --as recently as Central Expressway in Sunnyvale in 2004.

Why there is urgency

The fatality of a pedestrian crossing Capitol Expressway (in September 2004) occurred where the motorist went passed these illegal signs that mislead a percentage of motorists not to be aware of walkers. Unfortunately, the Department has stonewalled on illegal sign removal most of the time. For Sunnyvale, this lasted one year after change in City Code allowing walkers (2003) and bicycles (1987). Prompt compliance with law enacted for safety needs to be made the highest priority --as contrasted with adding lanes or even maintenance re-asphalting.

See the VTA BPAC vote and more details at: Prohibitory signs themselves increase danger.

See the full list of violations sent to Mr. Michael Murdter, Director and/or

to Ms. Jane Decker, Deputy County Executive.

Also see: Expressway topics, links page.

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