For $27M NYC Turns Caps-Lock Off Street Signs

250,900 street signs in New York City will be changed from all-caps to initial caps, where only the first letter is capitalized. The legibility will save lives, say the federal guidelines mandating the change, which will cost the city $27.6 million to implement.

Research has shown that words in all-caps are harder to read and the extra time not looking at the road increases the chance of accidents, especially among older drives.

The font will also change from standard highway to typeface to a newly custom designed one called Clearview, and the signs will have a reflective coating.

States have argued that the increased legibility didn’t justify the cost, so cities are allowed until 2018 for total compliance.

“On the Internet, writing in all caps means you are shouting,” the city Transportation Commissioner told the New York Post. “Our new signs can quiet down, as well.”

$27 million to change NYC signs from all-caps [New York Post]

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  1. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    I have to say that as a lifetime NYC resident, and former daily driver here, this is welcome news indeed!

    • d0x360 says:

      Yes cause there is no better use of 27 million dollars…are you serious? you really think spending that much money to change a font is justifiable? You do know most of the country has the same caps signs and we dont have issues.

      • ARVash says:

        27 million of taxes is not a tremendous amount of money. It would be a tremendous amount of money for JUST YOU to spend, but for a government with much bigger tasks at hand, this is pocketchange. Your argument is one of the graver fallacies which prevents many positive little changes like this one.

        • lstorm2003 says:

          You are an idiot. $27M is a HUGE amount of money… No matter who is…. you know what never mind… you are just an idiot. Its exactly your kind of mentality that really helps contribute to the sort of financial situation we are in here…

          • Kitamura says:

            It’s a lot, but in terms of how much money a city allocates to other projects, 27 million is pretty insignificant. I mean, where I like, they snowplowing budget alone is several hundred million dollars.

            Ever seen how much money a city sinks into “revitalization” projects?

            Now the thing here is that it probably would have been better to replace the signs as they came up for maintenance due to standard wear and tear from exposure to the elements or vandalism, but then you’d have a wierd mishmash of signs.

        • billbillbillbill says:

          So say you make $100,000 and your state tax rate is 10% (no idea) so their entire state income tax contribution is $10,000. So that means that 2700 people’s entire tax is going to pay for these signs. That is a ton.

          I have started doing that exercise with my federal taxes. Since 45% of the nation pay no income tax, when a grant is issued by the feds for a 50 million dollars, think of how many people’s taxes went to pay for that one grant. And since we are in a huge deficit, it means we are most likely borrowing a portion. It makes me mad!

          • kaykordeath says:

            “So say you make $100,000 and your state tax rate is 10% (no idea) so their entire state income tax contribution is $10,000. So that means that 2700 people’s entire tax is going to pay for these signs. That is a ton.”

            But those are all completely made up numbers. If you assume a tax rate of 5%, then 5400 people’s tax is used. If you assume a 30% tax then only 900 people.

            Not to mention that 2700 people is not a heck of a lot in a big city like New York.

            However, the question shouldn’t be about the relative size of the spending alone, but rather ask is it a reasonable amount spent to solve the problem at hand (and/or is the problem that drastic). No one would flinch at spending to $27M to make our schools better/safer…why should it be any different with roads?

          • Cicadymn says:

            “Since 45% of the nation pay no income tax”

            DAMN! Sign me up.

            I’d go from barely making it, to stress free good times if I didn’t have income tax. Wasn’t the income tax designed during WWII or something to help in a crisis, but then when it was over the government decided to keep it because they love to spend other peoples money?

            • SunnyLea says:

              Uh-huh. Lemme tell you that our almost 10% sales tax will have you changing that tune. I’d *love* an income tax.

          • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

            Those same numbers can be manipulated however you like. Do it this way: 8.391 million people in NYC (2009 estimate). Let’s say less than half are paying taxes (since everyone seems to think that there are millions of legal immigrants, welfare cheats, etc. who don’t pay a thing and that good, honest midwestern Americans pay them all).

            So if there are 4 million taxpayers in NYC, each would pay $6.75 for these signs. If they might save a life, would $6.75 be so much to pay?

            You can make that argument from a whole lot of perspectives. The point is, as mentioned above, they were already being replaced.

        • lxa1023 says:

          Just because you’re so used to Obama wasting billions, it doesn’t mean that 27 million is not that much. It is a complete waste of money to spend that much just to change a font, if the signs were randomly blowing up…. maybe, but a font change, this is a complete waste, much like your comment.

          • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

            except, that from what I understand in the article, the $27 million would have had to be spent anyway on replacing signs that get worn. So, what’s the issue here? They’re NO LONGER SCREAMING AT YOU irks you? Seems like Consumerist is brewing up another tempest in a teapot.

      • Forbidden says:

        Except that it’s not a special 27 million for new signs. From the NY Daily news article:

        http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/09/30/2010-09-30_bureaucrats_order_city_to_change_every_street_sign_leading_ny_to_say__it_is_just.html
        “The additional cost to the city, if any, will be “marginal” because it receives a steady stream of state funding for routine sign repairs and replacement, DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said.

        The life of a typical sign is about a decade, so most of the city’s signs would be replaced in the next few years anyway, Solomonow said.”

        The signs need replacing anyway. This is simply a case of stupidity in journalism.

        • doctor.mike says:

          To me, the type is much harder to read. That capital P is much smaller than the original, and the lack of kerning in the letter spacing leaves huge spaces between letters.

          As far as Seth Solomonow: Few people know that before he got this cushy job at DOT, he was a transportation writer for the Staten Island Advance. I tried to work with him to expose the corruption and defects in the newest of the Staten Island ferries, and he would not publish anything against the bureaucrats. Shortly after that incident, in Spring 2005, he became one!

      • Promethean Sky says:

        If we’re going to argue about funds here… One of the reasons that they’ve spread out the project over such a long time span is because it reduces overall costs. In the normal course of events, they have to replace many signs anyway, so that’s part of the operating budget. Two birds, one stone. I imagine that they will put off replacing the last of the signs until the last minute, but it will only be a fraction of the total number of signs.

        On the other hand, that means that there will be mixed sinage for a few years. I think we can live with that.

      • Griking says:

        I’m sure that many of the signs are probably due to be replaced soon anyway due to age and condition.

      • dean says:

        The 2010 NYC Dep of Transportation Budget (other than personnel services) was 462 Million per year.

        The 26 Million split over 8 years is 3.25 million per year.

        That is .7 of 1% of NYC’s annual transportation budget expense. I couldn’t find how much they spend on road signs on average.

    • H3ion says:

      Yeah, but when I give directions, I still tell people to use East River Drive.

  2. axhandler1 says:

    I heard about this on the radio this morning. What a total waste of money…

    • zandar says:

      So you dispute the idea that it will save lives?
      On http://www.clearviewhwy.com/ it states: “The new font has now been accepted nationwide as the standard for highway signs due to legibility tests and faster reaction times proven in studies that have been conducted.”

      If you dispute the findings, that’s a legitimate beef, if you have evidence to the contrary. If not, I find the idea that saving money is more important then saving lives execrable.

      • hosehead says:

        The research does not prove anything for New York City’s situation. This is classic post hoc ergo propter hoc. It reduces reaction time, therefore it must save lives because lives are lost because reaction time lags kill people.

        I drive in New York, and rarely do I spend time looking at signs. However, that is anecdotal. What is not anecdotal is that there are very few fatal vehicular accidents in New York City. The question posed should be, “how many of those would be avoided with this font change?”

        For $27m, I would rather we fix issues like pedestrian crossings in parts of Queens that would actually save lives.

        • RandomHookup says:

          Hard to have a fatal car crash at .034 miles per hour.

          • hosehead says:

            Agreed. The problems are at places like Queens Blvd. and the pedestrian crossings in the outerboroughs. Crossing at Queensboro Plaza is like taking your life into your hands. People come off the bridge doing 50-60mph.

      • scratchie says:

        +1

        Why do they even bother painting crosswalks or installing traffic lights? Those cost money, too.

      • axhandler1 says:

        The Highway Administration acknowledged that New York and other states “opposed the change, and suggested that the use of all upper-case letters remain an option,” noting that “while the mixed-case words might be easier to read, the amount of improvement in legibility did not justify the cost.”

        Also, the new font has been accepted as the standard for highway signs. We’re talking about street signs within the city. That’s an important difference. Although I admit, after reading some of the other comments, I suppose I was a bit reactionary. $27 million is not a big expense to a city like NY, but I still think there are places they could spend it that would do more good than preventing a few fender-benders.

      • theycallmeGinger says:

        That’s a great reference for highway signage, but that site is also kind of biased, no? Regardless, that’s referring to whizzing by highway signs at over 60 mph, not a simple street sign. How many lives are you going to save by changing “BLEECKER” to “Bleecker”? Be realistic!

        The all-caps reading comprehension is old, old, old news — we’ve known this for a very long time. $27 mil is not a lot for NYC, but this change seems less than necessary during our current economic stall.

        • StatusfriedCrustomer says:

          // How many lives are you going to save by changing “BLEECKER” to “Bleecker”? Be realistic!//
          If we can reduce the time people spend looking up from their texting to check what street they’re at, then it’s worth it at any cost.

    • crb042 says:

      the money is going SOMEWHERE. It’s not like it’s going to cost $27 million in raw materials.

      So that’s $27 million into the economy, in terms of paying people to produce and install these, and all steps in between.

      Consider it a stimulus with a tangible side-effect. Not really a waste.

      • buzz86us says:

        I’d rather that money go to hard working under paid civil engineers who can work on higher speed rail for the subway rather than lower case letters on signs. We need to reduce carbon emissions not increase them by making it easier for those who choose to drive, besides by the time you drive in NYC you might as well ride a bike or a moped which is probably faster between all the traffic, the gas and the hour long process of looking for a parking spot.

    • KittensRCute! says:

      how selfish of you. i am a visually impaired new york pedestrian. the current signs are near impossible to read until i am about 2-3 feet away. so this makes traveling the city alone a pain as i often have to ask someone which way when the sign is 5 feet away. it is also dangerous for me as well. this is not a waste of money this is not only a welcome change it would give me more freedom and make the city safer for me and thousands of other new yorkers like myself.

      • axhandler1 says:

        Not sure how thinking this money could be better spent elsewhere is “selfish of me”. Also I can’t tell if you are joking, but I’m gonna assume you aren’t. If you are visually impaired, I can’t imagine you thinking that making the letters on street signs smaller (caps to lowercase) is going to help you read them better. If anything, it’ll have the opposite effect. Also, this has nothing to do with pedestrians being able to read the signs, only drivers.

        • crackers says:

          Actually, it’s easier for to recognize the difference between individual letters when they’re lowercase. The shapes are easier to distinguish than upper case letters. Plus, for common words, our eyes actually recognize the shape of the word instead of the individual letters…that’s how we’re able to read as quickly as we do. Not as crucial for signage, obviously, but an interesting bit of information.

      • AI says:

        So the solution to your visual impairment issues is to make most of the letters on the sign…….smaller??

        • dangermike says:

          “Rseaerch icntidaes taht the oerdr of the ltteers in a wrod dnsoe’t mettar. Waht relaly mtteras is the frist and lsat leettr in the wrod. If tehy are in the rhgit palce, you can raed the wdors.

          Wehn you raed, you dno’t raed evrey leettr in ecah wrod. You look at the wrod as a wlohe.”

          Not my work, but it proves the point well. You should be able to read that almost as fast as you would if all the words were correctly spelled. With every letter in caps, those recognizable shapes that allow you rapidly recognize the words through the misspellings are replaced by what amounts to rectangular blocks, requiring your mind to again interpret each letter in sequence. It might be counter-intuitive, but it is generally accepted that despite their smaller area they occupy, lower case letters on signage allow faster recognition from greater distances than block capital lettering would.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    You had me up to the reflective coating. At night, which lots of blaring headlights and lamps, I can never read the street signs due to the glare.

    • dangerp says:

      I’m not sure if this is the case here, but common sense would dictate that only the letters would be reflective. Of course, policymakers using common sense isn’t all that common nowadays.

      Here in California, A lot of highways signs have reflective writing. Greatly increases readability without causing any glare (it’s more of a diffused reflection).

  4. d0x360 says:

    So in a time when American schools are under funded and there are budgets cuts everywhere, New York city is going to waste $27 million to change some street signs? Where is the science that proves this little theory correctly? I’ve never had trouble reading street signs in caps.

    I even tested it today on the way home because I heard Howard Stern talking about how much of an obscene waste of money this is. I had no issue quickly reading any sign in all caps.

    This is pure insanity.

    • tooki says:

      Um… ever read a warranty? They put lots in all-caps. And it gives you a headache by the second sentence.

      It’s Typography 101 that mixed-case text is easier to read (that is, takes less effort and less time) than all-uppercase text. Just because you hadn’t heard about this before doesn’t mean it’s mumbo-jumbo or that there’s no science behind it. The fact is, some fonts are easier to read quickly than others, and when you’re driving at 85mph, that ¼ second less can be the difference between having an accident or not.

      For the background on the Clearview typeface, go to the horse’s mouth: http://clearviewhwy.com/ResearchAndDesign/index.php

      • d0x360 says:

        A warranty is thousands of words! We are talking 1, maybe 2 words here.

      • agtwork says:

        Hopefully there isn’t anywhere in NYC that you drive even above 35, let alone 85.

        • nybiker says:

          Well, maybe not 85, how about 80? They don’t call Queens Blvd the Blvd of Death for no reason. Granted, it’s usually because somebody hit a pedestrian, but I seem to recall a few speeding instances.
          Our highways though are safe, since the speed limit is 50. ‘Cause nobody speeds on them (well, not for long considering the potholes and traffic congestion).

          And w/r/t scratchie’s comment about lights and crosswalks, I would suggest everyone read “Traffic: why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us)” by Tom Vanderbilt. Amazing reading.

    • Jasen says:

      But it will save lives! How many thousands more people must die from reading in all caps before you people take this seriously? God forbid a child try to read one of these things–if it didn’t kill him it would surely blind him.

      • Chmeeee says:

        It’s common sense that if something takes slightly longer to read, and it’s meant to be read by somebody driving a car, then reducing the reading time is going to reduce crashes.

    • d0x360 says:

      Also couldnt they not spend this huge sum of money up front and just replace them as they need it like they normally would? Just so wasteful.

      • rho says:

        They aren’t spending $27 million up front. They’re only doing 11,000 signs this year, and have until 2018 to finish the total of approximately 250,000 signs. Furthermore, since about 8000 signs need to be replaced yearly due to wear and tear, the marginal cost of this program for this FY is about $330,000 (3000 signs times $110 per sign).

        • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

          But, hey! That isn’t half as sensational as “Government Steals Money from Starving Kids’ Mouths, Throws Them in Gutter to Buy Millions of Dollars Worth of Glitzy New Street Signs”!

    • Chmeeee says:

      Let’s put this in perspective before we all go off the deep end. $27M looks like a big number. Two things: this is spread out over 8 years, and the population of NYC is 19M. That means this is costing $1.42 per person, or $0.18 per person per year. Seriously, it’s nothing.

    • KittensRCute! says:

      it is extremely selfish of you to say that the lives of visually impaired persons are not worth trying to save. you should be ashamed of yourself

      i am a visually impaired new york pedestrian. the current signs are near impossible to read until i am about 2-3 feet away. so this makes traveling the city alone a pain as i often have to ask someone which way when the sign is 5 feet away. it is also dangerous for me as well. this is not a waste of money this is not only a welcome change it would give me more freedom and make the city safer for me and thousands of other new yorkers like myself.

      • axhandler1 says:

        Not sure how thinking this money could be better spent elsewhere is “selfish of him”. Also it has become clear that you are not joking(which is disappointing). If you are visually impaired, making the letters on street signs smaller (caps to lowercase) is not going to help you read them better. If anything, it’ll have the opposite effect. Also, this has nothing to do with pedestrians being able to read the signs, only drivers.

      • AI says:

        The study involves readability at highway speeds. You are so visually impaired, you shouldn’t be driving, let along at highway speeds. Therefore, this change has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. Smaller letters will now mean you have to be 1-2ft from the sign instead of 2-3ft.

        • AI says:

          Oh sorry, you can’t read all caps very well. I said “Absolutely Nothing To Do With You”. There, better.

        • KittensRCute! says:

          i am visually impaired, but you fail at comprehension… i clearly stated pedestrian. maybe you should invest in a dictionary, and in reading about how reading works as others have explained to you.

    • nextyearsgirl says:

      Oh good, I’m glad you were able to refute all the research that has gone into this by conducting a two minute test by yourself on your ride home! SCIENCE!

    • ShadowFalls says:

      It actually falls under the method of learning and the English language. More commonly a capital letter is used in the first word of a sentence or the beginning of a new word such as a noun. So, when you mind sees a capital letter followed by another capital letter, it can get confused and think it is trying to read a new word.

      I am not saying everyone has this issue, I certainly do not, but some people do. The change won’t affect the people who have no problems reading as they are, it is for those that do have the difficulty.

    • Tonguetied says:

      Where did you get the idea that American schools are underfunded? The United States is tied for first place with Switzerland when it comes to annual spending per student on its public schools.

    • ktetch says:

      The research is very widespread, and not exactly new either. The UK did the main research on this, and that led to all the street-signs being redone there. IN THE 1960s.

      NYC – 50 years behind the rest of the world…

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Street signs eventually need replacement anyway. My understanding is NYC is changing street signs to something easier to read. Toronto‘s already been doing this — as old signs wear out, new signage just as what’s being proposed for NYC gets put in. What’s the big deal?

  5. Hi_Hello says:

    Holy Crap!!! Research shows that researchers are stupid.

    If you see a white arrow in the middle of a black retangle sign, pointing a certain way, do you know what it mean? Even if what’s written on it say hello there?

    I say spend that money on something more important..like making sure when the get their licenses, they know what street signs mean.

    They need to do a research to see if people are reading street sign.

    • Chmeeee says:

      They’re talking about the street name signs, not the one-way signs.

    • SScorpio says:

      You might want to read the article. The change is to the street signs. The green one in the picture that all look the same save for the name of the actual street. Traffic signs use standard shapes to provide instant recognition; however, you need to actually read the writing on a street sign. And while I’m not sure about the mixed case, having anti glare signs will greatly improve their usability at night.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      sorry, I read it wrong.. I went to read the article. It make sense.

      Why does it cost so much to replace 1 street sign?

      Most people who read the street signs are people who are new to the area. There driving habit is dangerous and even if you have a gaint sign in the middle of the road telling you what street is it, they probably won’t notice it…You probably can tell when someone is lost…

      I do think making the sign easier to read is a good idea. Especially if people still use maps instead of GPS. Don’t they have a study that show people who follow gps just turn when they are told to turn without actually paying attention to where they are turn to???

      anyway… at 110 bucks per sign, instead of replacing it right away or within the 8 year limit, any damaged sign or signs that need to be replace should be replace wih the new stuff. That should save some money, right? I don’t know, I don’t run the budget stuck.

      I’m in a new area, when I’m at an intersection, the street name on the right is called ABC st, the one of the left is called XYZ street 0-o it’s the same freakin street. To avoid from getting lost, I figure I travel .8 miles and turn at a street, 1.2 turn at another street. I still use maps. So far, I haven’t got lost and I don’t waste my time trying to find a street sign. If i miss a turn, I keep on going straight until I find a space place to turn around.

  6. freelunch says:

    “On the Internet, writing in all caps means you are shouting,”

    This… this is classic…. best justification for $27 typeface change I have heard yet.

  7. Rudiger says:

    I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THE PROBLEM IS!

  8. DanRydell says:

    Yet Another Post About NYC That Isn’t a Consumer Issue

    I mean, if you want to post about government waste there are far better examples.

  9. netposer says:

    GIVE ME $27 MILLION AND I WILL STOP TYPING IN ALL CAPS. OK?

  10. CherieBerry says:

    How wasteful.

    • KittensRCute! says:

      visually impaired pedestrians are people too you know. its not wasteful to spend a few dollars to install signs that are easier to read, save lives, and would allow those with who are visually impaired have more independence as NYC residents. i wish i would could say that some of you peoples hatred for the disabled is surprising but its not.

      • axhandler1 says:

        I wish I could say that making the leap from saying this is a waste of money to saying that you hate disabled people is logical, correct, or reasonable, but it’s not.

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        You have commented several times from the perspective of a visually impaired pedestrian, yet the whole point of this boondoggle is to make the signs easier for MOTORISTS. Or, to steal another wag’s joke, Motorists.

  11. Chmeeee says:

    For anybody who is curious, here are the requirements:

    http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part2/fig2d_10_longdesc.htm

  12. grucifer says:

    Eh, at least it ought to create some new jobs?

  13. tungstencoil says:

    I’ll do it for $23.2MM :)

  14. Chad says:

    If you read the story, it makes more sense
    From the NY Daily News:
    “The mixed upper- and lowercase rule was adopted in 2003, but municipalities were given until 2018 to comply completely, Hecox said….The additional cost to the city, if any, will be “marginal” because it receives a steady stream of state funding for routine sign repairs and replacement, DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said. The life of a typical sign is about a decade, so most of the city’s signs would be replaced in the next few years anyway.”

    Signs last 10 years – 15 year program.
    They are just replacing signs they would have anyway – and making them upper/lowercase when they do

  15. Gulliver says:

    This will be required in 2018. What do you expect the cost will be then? Paying for something in advance SAVES money. Let’s look at what the real cost to the taxpayers of New York. About 8.4 million people live in NYC. 27 million dollars comes to under $3.25 per person for a year. I am sure the signs last longer than a year, but lets say the cost is 27 million each and every year on replacements. The cost per day is less than a penny per person. I do not know how many lives it will save, and there is no way to determine that, but I am sure if some old person ran over your kid or mother because they couldn’t read the sign due to poor design, you would thing $27 million is a drop in the bucket.

  16. HalOfBorg says:

    Better, easier to read, easier to see signs ARE a good thing, but don’t go changing them all! Just specify the new design in all new orders and replace them as they come to attention. Replace the bad ones first.

    • AI says:

      But that would make logical sense! You can’t make logical sense! Think of the children (and visually impaired trolls)!

  17. Mcshonky says:

    city could make the money back by selling the old signs…….
    but the won’t.

    where is that overhyped bloomberg ingenuity for money making now??

    • Chris says:

      my thoughts exactly, and most of the street signs could definitely go for more than $110 a sign at auction, especially the “iconic” signs of new york (broadway, 5th ave, wall st., etc.). i’d drop a few hundred for one of these signs, and i don’t even have strong ties to NYC…

    • nybiker says:

      My guess is that some people (certainly not me) are probably going to start taking a few down and eliminate the middleman.

  18. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    So, no more Cruise Control for Cool?

  19. lstorm2003 says:

    Stupidest waste of $ I’ve ever heard of… Are they f’ing serious??? This is what they waste our tax dollars on?!

  20. llcooljabe says:

    Please tell me that this is actually an Onion story and you’re just messing with us on a Friday?

  21. Gramin says:

    Ben… just FYI: $27M equals $27,000. M is the Roman numeral for 1,000; therefore, MM is equal to 1,000,000. You should fix the headline. Thanks.

    • mmmsoap says:

      Unfortunately, I can’t tell if you’re joking. I hope so, because if you’re not it makes me sad :(

      • Jasen says:

        He’s not.
        My company uses this standard in internal documentation and presentations. I was confused the first time I saw someone’s powerpoint list the savings of his project as $100M, but he kept saying “100,000.”
        However, I wouldn’t expect that standard to be used in article headlines. Most people expect “M” to be a million.

        • Gramin says:

          Yes, I am not joking. I work for a financial institution and the standard is M for 1,000 and MM for 1,000,000.

      • AI says:

        He’s not joking. My company often uses $100MM to denote $100 million dollars. However I’ve never seen $100M denote $100 thousand dollars, we would use $100k for that.

      • PsiCop says:

        No joke. “M” means 1,000. It’s the Roman numeral for that number, and it comes from the Latin mille meaning “thousand.” And it’s used to mean that, still, in many venues.

        In a prior job, for example, I used to order printed forms that came in boxes of 5,000 each. I ordered them, and they were invoiced, as “5M” boxes. The usual copy-paper boxes are 10M. And so on.

        Using “M” to mean a million is more recent, but is already common enough that it’s technically not incorrect. It seems to be used often, this way, in news headlines, as you see here. I haven’t looked in any of the journalists’ style guides to see if this is officially accepted, but if it were in one or more of them, it wouldn’t surprise me.

        A new abbreviation for “thousand” is comes to us from the computing world, and that is “k.” (Although technically a “k” in computing is not “1,000” but “1,024,” or 10000000000 in binary.)

  22. jessjj347 says:

    I would prefer if all signs were changed to COMIC SANS.

  23. PsiCop says:

    I’m not sure that Clearview Hwy can be called a “newly designed” typeface. It was approved for use on highways in 2004, which means it had to have been designed some years before that.

  24. teke367 says:

    I always just assumed that all caps would be easier to read since the letters would be less likely to look similar.

    Seems wasteful, but I guess over 8 years it isn’t a big deal.

  25. shepd says:

    Wow, if NYC had used signs like the northern neighbours, there wouldn’t nearly be as many signs to replace (hint: Many signs in Quebec/Ontario don’t have writing on them, just pictures).

    BTW: Will they be replacing the ubiquitous STOP sign?

    • Gulliver says:

      Yes, because a picture of Gay Street, or Columbus Ave would have pictures of two men having anal sex and a guy landing in the new world off a boat?

  26. Macgyver says:

    They should just be replaced as needed only, not all of them for no reason.
    You can clearly read the signs now, if you can’t, maybe YOU NEED GLASSES.

    Anyone knows how much the city will get from scrapping all the old signs?

    And it will cost more then 27m after labor.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Really they didn’t factor labor in? Citation please.

      • DanRydell says:

        Of course it includes labor, he’s just assuming it doesn’t for some reason. Generally when you see figures on how much something is going to cost the government, it is inclusive of all costs.

        Just do the math – even if there are 50,000 street signs in NYC, that would be over $500 per sign. Those signs don’t cost $500 apiece.

        • Gulliver says:

          Your assumption makes no sense
          “250,900 street signs in New York City will be changed “. You are about 5 times too few on yoru guess of the number of signs. $100 per sign is not out of line.

    • Forbidden says:

      They ARE being replaced as-needed only. That’s why it’s not expected to be completed until 2018. This is not $27mil specially allocated. They spend that much over ten years replacing all the signs anyway.

    • DanRydell says:

      It’s not about being able to read it, it’s how long it takes to read it. You can read a mixed-case sign faster than an all-caps sign. That’s not a collective “you” that’s directed at YOU.

  27. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    It seems ridiculous to replace perfectly functioning street signs. I live in a very poor city that is on the verge of bankruptcy. We have very real problems that need to be addressed and an unfunded mandate to phase out existing street signs is not one of them.

    Our public works department barely has enough money to repair damaged street lights, pot holes, and traffic lights, let alone replacing existing signage. Hell, replacing damaged signs is a huge burden already and many go unfixed for long periods of time.

    • Gulliver says:

      There is nothing in there saying they are replacing perfectly good street signs. This will take place over 8 years. The life span of street signs is 10.
      This is not a story. It would be like sayng it will cost 50 billion to replace a freeway. Then you find out tjjey are replacing it a few miles at a time each year because it has turned into a rock pit

  28. KyBash says:

    As usual, the New York Post didn’t bother getting to the heart of the matter.

    It will cost the city approx. $220,000 to change their standard order for replacement signs over to the new font (this includes clerical time to retype purchase orders, vendor fee for upgrade, etc.).

    Then the city will have to pay approx. $6.75 Million under the table to the unions to ensure there won’t be a spike in disability claims because the change creates “undue stress” to city workers.

    And the other twenty mil is for kickbacks to every two-bit politician in the city.

    That’s the way NYC operates. Always has, always will.

  29. Salty Johnson says:

    “and the signs will have a reflective coating”

    I’m assuming that means that the signs currently do NOT have a reflective coating, and yet they’re citing all-caps as the reason for accidents and difficulty to read. All-caps writing is actually EASIER to read on single-phrase informational signs because there is very little similarity between different capital letters.

    I am in favor of making all the signs reflective and perhaps changing the font to “Clearview” if that’s a better typeface, but initial caps on a street sign? That’s retarded.

  30. BK31 says:

    I can understand the change on the Interstates and roads with higher speed limits for the supposed legibility saving lives, but why for city streets?

    Oh as a side note I work in architecture and nearly every one of our notes on our drawings is in ALL CAPS for ‘legibility.’ Maybe its just a carry over from the days of hand drawing, but most CAD drawings today are still done in all caps.

  31. davemon says:

    This doesn’t seem to make sense. How would having the signs in lower-case after the first letter make them easier to read? I would think it would make them harder to read. How about having the signs in caps but larger, and reducing the overall number of signs at each intersection so there’s not so much information to have to process at one time?

  32. hypochondriac says:

    I’ve always loved the street signs we have here in NYC. Never found then hard to read, like I do when I got upstate or to a different state. So wonder how more legible they can get

  33. icerabbit says:

    If this clearview font is so great, please explain to me why are there seemingly a dozen different versions of clearview – including bold and thinner spaced variants — many of which don’t seem all that great to read.

    See their website here: http://clearviewhwy.com/TypefaceDisplay/index.php

    This will be one of the biggest wastes of tax payer dollars all around the country, if this is some nationwide mandate.

    Who did they pay off to pull this one?

    Have we heard some big nationwide slew of complaints that the all the road signs have been impossible to read until now? The reason the signs were all caps is because that means the letters are bigger and thus easier to read. Anyway. The cost has to be staggering. Imagine every city, county, state and federal sign having to be replaced?

  34. SecondGuesser says:

    No one cares. Who has the time to stop texting to look for a street sign?

  35. AI says:

    That’s retarded. If they want to change the signs, just make all new ones initial caps. The $27.6million could go elsewhere…..like say to a school so they don’t have to put advertisements on letters home to parents.

    • Absinthe says:

      NYC schools have plenty of money. Money isn’t the problem with our schools. I just finished building a school in Queens with an auditorium that could rival a Broadway theater, music rooms with soundproof booths and a f*#@ing kiln.

      After reading several articles on this issue, it really is a non-issue & just some way to drum up unwarranted indignation… reaction to the number 27,000,000. Replacement will take place over 8 years & signs frequently get replaced every 10 years anyway. This is money that would have been spent anyhow. Even my shock at the $110 per sign was unwarranted after I thought about the labor cost of hanging the sign.

      To me it seems a silly consideration since traffic in NYChttp://consumerist.com/2010/10/for-27m-nyc-turns-caps-lock-off-street-signs.html goes way too slow to begin with. A more important issue is how to properly prevent people from stealing the “Joey Ramone Place” sign (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/joey_high_note_XssyHN1x59AXMUzDVbAVkM). Reverence, people!

  36. Tiandli says:

    My first thought was who owns the company that produce the signs and if they are connected to a politician, a political contribution, or anyone who worked in city transportation.

    Other than someone making almost $30 million, this is a useless change. Signs are not chat. No one thinks of capitalized street signs as “shouting”. What about all the logos on buildings and billboards? Will NYC force everyone to change their capitalization, too?

  37. nybiker says:

    I wish small-town American (actually, I am thinking of some places in Nassau & Suffolk counties) would actually use larger signs. Even when my eyesight was better I had problems reading the sign.

  38. Forbidden says:

    Breathless inanity strikes again. Signs are replaced about every ten years. They’re doing this as part of the normal sign maintenance. There is nothing to see here but stupidity in journalism.

    • physics2010 says:

      Agreed. It would only have been stupid if an immediate replacement for all signs was demanded. I assume these are replaced area by area anyway, except in cases of damage, so its not as if there will be a street by street mismatch.

  39. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Correction: it will cost $27K to implement and the rest will…disappear.

  40. digitalgimpus says:

    This article title is very inaccurate.

    First of all it’s over 8 years, with signs having a life span of 10 years. 80% would already be replaced. The remaining would have an approximate 2 years left in their life cycle.

    Accounting with depreciation (don’t think you have a choice under GAAP), I found the cost is actually about $825,000 assuming an even distribution of signage age.

    http://robert.accettura.com/blog/2010/09/30/the-real-cost-of-changing-nyc-street-signs/

    No way it’s $27M. But it does make an eye catching headline.

  41. emptyV says:

    anyone remember WAL* MART
    now is Walmart…Blame Walmart….you do for everything else

  42. runswithscissors says:

    See, I thought it was just the street signs being New Yorkers:

    HEY! I’M BEIN’ FIFTH AVENUE OVAH HEAH! WANNA FIGHT ABOUT IT?

  43. H3ion says:

    What about e.e. cummings Street?

  44. Emperor Norton I says:

    I just want every city & town that uses vertical street signs to be forced into using horizontal ones!
    You can’t read a vertical one when traveling down a street, you have to stop to read the stupid things!
    Are you listening Park Ridge Illinois?

  45. djshinyo says:

    Maybe those “older drivers” who can’t read the street signs SHOULD NOT BE OPERATING MOTOR VEHICLES.

  46. Amy Alkon says:

    This is completely dim. I lived in New York city and biked, rollerskated and ran all over town. Traffic doesn’t move fast enough on New York City streets to make that extra sign legibility as valid a change as it may be in other places.

  47. Mr. Pottersquash says:

    in 6 years dont all road signs get replaced anyway?

  48. sopmodm14 says:

    thats all bunk, if they wanted to truly save lives and have them be more legible, they should spend the money to ENLARGE the signs themselves, not just reprint them in all caps (since they’re replacing them anyways !)

    i’d also like to know :

    1) how many fatalities were attributed to illegible signs

    2) how much it’ll cost taxpayers

  49. FrankReality says:

    What bothers me is this is a nationwide mandate and it impacts more than cities. I can’t imagine the cost of doing this across the entire US. The township in which I live has around 50 intersections with the crossed street signs, or 100 street sign panels. The street signs are reflective on both sides, which makes them more expensive than one-sided signs. The cost of the sign, plus installing one is probably pushing $200 each. So, you’re talking $10,000 to do the work.

    Which doesn’t seem like much, but when the township’s entire annual budget is $140,000, $10,000 is significant.

    Typically, these signs last upwards of 30 years – much longer than stop signs (which tend to fade much faster) and larger signs which vandals like to use for target practice.

    Now, the state is pushing counties and local goverment units to increase the size of signage and pavement markings (wider striping), which the state has been doing for years to improve usability and safety as the population ages. So the replacement signs will likely be up to 60 to 75% larger than the size of the current ones, which raises the cost as well.

    The good news is the street signs are all block numbers with a street/avenue number. No long names like “Frank Manichewvitz Boulevard” or “Skunk Hollow Trail”.

  50. Absinthe says:

    one has to question why one street sign costs $110. Le sigh.

  51. duncanblackthorne says:

    Sounds to me like they’d be better off firing some people who make really bad decisions. Who gives a damn whether street signs are all capital letters or not? Anyone? Bueller?

  52. quail says:

    What about the size of the road sign? As a frequent traveler up until 5 years ago, that was my biggest pet peeve about some location’s road signs, they were just too small to read traveling at 35 MPH. NY State was the worst when it came to signs being small. Don’t just change the lettering, please enlarge them too.

  53. quail says:

    While we’re at it, when will NY State change their Interstate and Highway exits to correspond to the mile marker and not to where the exit falls in the overall exit count? NY, get with the times.

  54. Rena says:

    I find it hard to believe that smaller, more complex lowercase letters are easier to read on street signs – which are at a distance and generally moving by quickly and only glanced at – than the larger, simpler, uniform-height uppercase. Sure, all caps is hard to read entire paragraphs of, but it seems like it’d be much easier to read a word or two in that situation in uppercase.