Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bridge Signs in Chengdu, China: What Do They Mean?

In previous posts I've written about the challenges of creating meaningful signs and how signs may be ignored even when they're clear.

To follow up on those themes and to do an informal experiment, take a look at some scenes from this bridge over a busy street in Chengdu:

There were stairs going up to it:

And also a ramp with a prominently displayed sign:

The other side of the bridge had stairs and a curved ramp:

And the bottom of the ramp had the same sign:

As you can see in the above photos of the ramps and this one:

There are speed bumps.

So... When you first saw the sign what did you think it meant?  What is the intended use of the ramps?  Did your impression change after seeing additional photos?

Email me your answers/guesses/thoughts (  I'll later post some of the replies.  I'll assume you want to remain anonymous unless you state otherwise.  It would be helpful, though, to know if you're from China or if you have experience with such signs.

By the way, there is a small detail in one of the photos above that may provide you a hint as to the intended meaning of the sign.  Bonus points for catching it.

P.S.  Coincidentally, James Fallows also has a new post here about signs in China.

[Added note:  I suggested contacting me via e-mail just so people are less likely to be influenced by others' ideas.  You can also reply through the comment section.  However, I won't publish them until I do the follow-up post.]

UPDATE:  Follow-up post with readers' thoughts, a few additional photos, and the "answer" is here:

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