An Obey the Signs Sign

by Chris MacDonald

obey_signs2I love this sign, which is posted near the building formerly known as Maple Leaf Gardens, on Carlton St in Toronto.

It’s a sign that encourages pedestrians to obey traffic signals, which are of course themselves a kind of normative sign. So, it’s a sign telling you to obey signs. Philosophically, that makes it a meta-normative sign.

I have to wonder about the likely effectiveness of such a sign. I mean, if a pedestrian wasn’t already disposed to obeying signs and signals, would they be disposed to obeying this particular sign? Maybe there’s a kind of bootstrapping at play, here: its a verbal reminder to obey other kinds of visual signals. So maybe (another metaphor) it serves to ‘prime the pump.’