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Author Topic: The Clearview Subject  (Read 118547 times)

Bobby5280

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #350 on: July 02, 2014, 12:54:18 AM »

Quote from: hbelkins
The fact that we have the feds dictating font and capitalization rules to local governments on how they sign their streets and roads is what drives me nuts.

I think the federal government was justified in handing down the new requirement for mixed case legends on street name blade signs. Previous all caps designs were often legibly deficient.

Unfortunately, mixed case street name signs require taller sign blanks to accommodate the descenders of the lowercase letters. A 4" legend would need an 8" tall panel if the lettering was going to be vertically centered on the panel. Even with that layout there might not be enough room to add things like white borders.

I actually suspect some cities and towns have deliberately misinterpreted the MUTCD spec, shrinking lowercase letters to 75% of their normal size, just so they can keep using the shorter, cheaper sign panels.

Ultimately, I think cutting costs also has something to do with the misuse and ultimate dismissal of Clearview. There really is no question Clearview, when used properly, is more legible than FHWA Series Gothic. IMHO, these new claims of Clearview having little if any more legibility than Series Gothic stinks of political spin.

The true problem is Clearview requires longer, more expensive sign panels. A 10" tall legend set in Clearview 5W is going to require a significantly longer sign panel than a 10" legend set in Series Gothic E. The lowercase letters in Clearview are nearly 7/8 the height of the uppercase letters. Series Gothic letters are just under 3/4 the cap height.

State agencies are searching for any way to cut costs, including replacing large, aging traffic signs with smaller, cheaper, harder to read panels. There's a bunch of new ones around Lawton that are a joke.

Quote from: jake
How about this? You can choose any font but it can't be deemed silly. Ideally, you would send the typeface to some sort of approval center. That way, you could use basically any sans-serif font but it would filter out the silly "I can't tell if it's serif or sans-serif" type of fonts (such as posted above).

The approval center can't be a city council, either. They'll choose comic sans because they thinks it cute or something.

There's a couple problems with that. The big one is its very difficult or just plain impossible to legislate good taste. I'm an experienced sign designer, but at the same time I'm about as harsh a critic as there is over badly designed signs. I hate it when people distort typefaces out of their normal proportions or do obviously silly things like setting script typefaces in all capitals. The only thing local governments can do is draft sign ordinances that control size, location and certain functional features of signs.

The other problem is typefaces designed for print or electronic display use often don't work well for traffic sign use. Typefaces meant for traffic sign use have little variance in weight, but need a great variety of widths. Some "super font" families come close to satisfying the variety of widths, but usually fall short in the most condensed forms. Letter spacing in traffic sign typefaces has to be more loosely tracked.

There is plenty of room for improvement with Series Gothic (or room for it to be replaced with something better). Unfortunately we're stuck in a chicken vs. egg scenario where both the fonts and traffic sign software are badly outdated in their capabilities. Both need to improve.
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PHLBOS

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #351 on: July 02, 2014, 08:07:43 AM »


I have to wonder if that particular BGS is an isolated one-off replacement, fabricated by an independent contractor, for a damaged/destroyed BGS.  That could be one reason why it looks somewhat out of spec... particularly w/those squared corners.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #352 on: July 02, 2014, 11:36:44 AM »

Those extremely not-round corner signs remind me of the signs on the lower parts of the Garden State Parkway...
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #353 on: July 02, 2014, 12:29:15 PM »

Those extremely not-round corner signs remind me of the signs on the lower parts of the Garden State Parkway...

The Ohio Turnpike is chock full of them.  It's the OTC standard.

Example: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=41.322798,-82.61443&spn=0.004593,0.010568&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=41.322798,-82.614295&panoid=Ovma2-ZTVpGiGVeeOa7QcA&cbp=12,98.1,,0,3.38
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PHLBOS

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #354 on: July 02, 2014, 01:16:58 PM »

Those extremely not-round corner signs remind me of the signs on the lower parts of the Garden State Parkway...
Some of the upper sections of the GSP sport similar-style BGS' (and that ugly-style US shields) as well.
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Scott5114

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #355 on: July 02, 2014, 08:35:27 PM »

Ultimately, I think cutting costs also has something to do with the misuse and ultimate dismissal of Clearview. There really is no question Clearview, when used properly, is more legible than FHWA Series Gothic. IMHO, these new claims of Clearview having little if any more legibility than Series Gothic stinks of political spin.

It was hardly political. It was a legitimate study done by a university. Read it yourself:
http://d2dtl5nnlpfr0r.cloudfront.net/tti.tamu.edu/documents/TTI-2014-3.pdf
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vdeane

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #356 on: July 02, 2014, 08:48:55 PM »

I have to wonder if that particular BGS is an isolated one-off replacement, fabricated by an independent contractor, for a damaged/destroyed BGS.  That could be one reason why it looks somewhat out of spec... particularly w/those squared corners.
There's another one just like it south of the Yonkers barrier.  Some signs on I-278 (NYCDOT/NYSDOT Region 11) have the same standard:
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jbnv

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #357 on: July 07, 2014, 11:35:07 PM »

Quote
The fact that we have the feds dictating font and capitalization rules to local governments on how they sign their streets and roads is what drives me nuts.
^ I'd prefer this type of standard over letting the local governments pick any font and not being able to read the signs. Less ambiguity while driving is a good thing.

Do you not have the ability to vote incompetent officials out of your local governments and replace them with more competent people? Let the federal government dictate local signing standards and eventually they'll get the idea that they can dictate other things for you, like what your schools will sell for lunch, what benefits you must offer to your employees, what sort of health insurance you must have...
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Scott5114

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #358 on: July 08, 2014, 02:00:33 AM »

Quote
The fact that we have the feds dictating font and capitalization rules to local governments on how they sign their streets and roads is what drives me nuts.
^ I'd prefer this type of standard over letting the local governments pick any font and not being able to read the signs. Less ambiguity while driving is a good thing.

Do you not have the ability to vote incompetent officials out of your local governments and replace them with more competent people?

This is often easier said than done in states with strong support for a single party. In Oklahoma, getting rid of an incompetent Republican is practically impossible, because all they have to say is that their opponent supports Obama and their campaign is sunk. Even in more competitive campaigns, competence often takes a back seat to issues like who hates gays more, who is more Christian, or who accidentally offended which interest group.

Not to mention that most state DOTs are composed of civil servants, not elected officials. If someone were to theoretically take issue with the job that H.B. Elkins is doing with KyTC (which I don't know why they would, since he seems to do a fine job, from what I've seen, but for the sake of argument), he could not be voted out of office because he wasn't voted into that job in the first place, but rather by traditional interviewing and hiring like you would see in a private-sector business.

One only has to look through this forum to see the colossal mess that Oklahoma DOT has managed to wreak on its highway system signage, even under the governance of the MUTCD, to see that removing those trivial regulations would probably be disastrous. I wouldn't trust the Oklahoma state government to tie my shoe, much less develop a coherent signage policy on its own.
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hbelkins

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #359 on: July 08, 2014, 11:53:15 AM »

I can see it now. Joe Blow, running for mayor of BFE, putting an ad in the local weekly birdcage liner: "Our street signs are horrible. Vote for me and I will replace our road superintendent with someone who will use a nicer font."
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J N Winkler

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #360 on: July 08, 2014, 02:32:48 PM »

On a more serious note:  subsidiarity is a big Tea Party theme, but where road sign typefaces are concerned, it collides with a few realities.

*  Very few municipal traffic engineering departments have the reservoir of skill to evaluate typefaces according to legibility performance.

*  Mild variation of typeface at the state level is something that does have historical precedent in the US (LeHay font in Maine, house typefaces in Michigan, Nevada, and many other states, etc.).  However, this variation generally coincides with a period of time when traffic design offices were more heavily staffed (in part because primary Interstate construction was then in progress) and signing plans were less likely to have errors.  Given the QA/QC problems many state DOTs now have with their signing plans, are they really able to cope with the added burden of font selection?

*  In Canada, which has open typeface selection and where there is a much more recent history of typeface variation between the provinces that is also much more recent than in the US (and indeed is still ongoing in many cases), there has been a pronounced trend of convergence toward the two major typeface families--FHWA Series and Clearview--over the past fifteen years.  BC Font has disappeared, while in Ontario Helvetica is now used only on a minority of signs, most of which are relatively unimportant in traffic function.  This suggests that if free typeface selection were rolled out in the US, there would be little demand among the states for wholesale conversion to a different type family, and most of the changes at the margin would be aesthetic irritations.  If you don't like the fact that BC uses Arial for route marker digits, how would you feel about Clearview route marker digits in the US?
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jakeroot

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #361 on: July 08, 2014, 04:54:44 PM »

BC Font has disappeared

Disappeared from use, but are still quite easy to find in the wild. The best place to find them is old, old guide signs and on many of the cardinal directions below route shields:

Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit C

If you don't like the fact that BC uses Arial for route marker digits, how would you feel about Clearview route marker digits in the US?

BC has started to use Clearview on route shields, but only very rarely.

For me, Helvetica (Arial) = FHWA Series = Clearview  ---  I like them all equally.
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agentsteel53

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #362 on: July 08, 2014, 05:20:45 PM »

*  Mild variation of typeface at the state level is something that does have historical precedent in the US (LeHay font in Maine, house typefaces in Michigan, Nevada, and many other states, etc.).  However, this variation generally coincides with a period of time when traffic design offices were more heavily staffed (in part because primary Interstate construction was then in progress) and signing plans were less likely to have errors. 

actually, the more I find historical documents to peruse, the more I am thinking that typeface variations go back a long, long time before the rise of the interstate system and the (coincidental?) 1945-48 switch from the block to the round series of FHWA standard fonts.



dig that custom Mass. font - in 1930!  the embossed shields have a squared-off font set.  I'm not sure why - they are definitely not identical to FHWA alphabets, so if they custom-milled the dies (they did, in the prison shops, primarily in Newburyport), they could have chosen any shape.  perhaps they thought block fonts were more legible, but the rounded custom font more easily painted?

it seems to me that the block font was much more prevalent for embossed forms, simply because a lot of places contracted to companies which had standard designs.  note that these standards may not have exactly matched the FHWA proscription - here is S. G. Adams's 1926 route shield offering, complete with semi-rounded letters and a somewhat different shield shape. 



to add to this - a lot of the hand-painted signs (mainly directional guide signs and others that needed much customization, like the 1930 Mass. example above) had rounded fonts of a custom style, predating and then continuing to postdate the first MUTCD.  here is a Texas photo showing 1935-spec (if not an earlier spec) guide signs:



interesting that the route shields have block fonts, despite being flat.  I believe they were screen-printed, as opposed to hand-painted.  (the photo appears to be from 1946, at least that's what I believe that Illy trailer plate to be.)

and here is a photo of a 1917 sign, showing essentially similar fonts to the SG Adams embossed example; fitting the pattern of a "Series C or thereabouts" width round font.



(remarkably, the sign is still in service!)
« Last Edit: July 08, 2014, 05:24:18 PM by agentsteel53 »
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hbelkins

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #363 on: August 25, 2015, 06:03:30 PM »

Interesting tidbit -- I don't see that Kentucky ever got approval for Clearview on the FHWA page. There are a number of approvals for Kentucky listed, but Clearview is not one of them. Hmmm.
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #364 on: August 25, 2015, 10:01:22 PM »

^ How is any of that different than the Clearview circular FHWA posted detailing where you can and cannot use Clearview, though? If you have to have a circular saying "you have to use the old font in these places" you may as well stick with the old font, because state DOTs will not follow the circular.

Agreed. Multiple fonts on one sign is messy. We need to find a font that can work everywhere. Zeffy, there's no evidence that Transport is less legible in comparison to FHWA in those cases.

In fact, I love Clearview, but only if it's used everywhere. I'm find with sacking Clearview unless we use it everywhere.

I don't know why I did this, but I did a compasion between FHWA (EEM for the control cities), Clearview, and Mittelscrift (a German font). I found the Mittelscrift's text to look close to Clearview, but numerals to look closer to FHWA.




Anyways, I found a new FHWA sign on the Thruway.  Not sure if this means they're dumping clearview or not.  It wouldn't be the first time a NYSDOT-spec sign has found itself on the Thruway, but the tab looks more like something NYSTA would do than anything I've seen from NYSDOT.


I thought I was looking at an Ontario sign for a minute. Then I realized the units are in Miles  :pan:

vdeane

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #365 on: August 26, 2015, 06:18:16 PM »

Almost all exit tabs in Ontario omit the word "exit" and include the number only.  Those that include the word "exit" predate bilingualism.

One can also tell it's not an Ontario sign because both roads are in the same font size.  In Ontario, one would be normal-sized, and the other as tiny as the "1/2 mile" line.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2015, 06:29:34 PM by vdeane »
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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #366 on: August 26, 2015, 11:27:11 PM »

Almost all exit tabs in Ontario omit the word "exit" and include the number only.  Those that include the word "exit" predate bilingualism.

One can also tell it's not an Ontario sign because both roads are in the same font size.  In Ontario, one would be normal-sized, and the other as tiny as the "1/2 mile" line.

I know, but at a quick peripheral glance scrolling down the page, it looked Ontario like, since Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America that uses square borders. The other hints you pointed out eliminated that sign being in Ontario quickly. The last hint would be the absence of the period after 'Blvd'.

I did find this though. It's nice to see this one is still around: https://goo.gl/maps/SEF9X

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Re: The Clearview Subject
« Reply #367 on: August 27, 2015, 07:22:24 AM »

Almost all exit tabs in Ontario omit the word "exit" and include the number only.  Those that include the word "exit" predate bilingualism.

One can also tell it's not an Ontario sign because both roads are in the same font size.  In Ontario, one would be normal-sized, and the other as tiny as the "1/2 mile" line.

I know, but at a quick peripheral glance scrolling down the page, it looked Ontario like, since Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America that uses square borders. The other hints you pointed out eliminated that sign being in Ontario quickly. The last hint would be the absence of the period after 'Blvd'.

I did find this though. It's nice to see this one is still around: https://goo.gl/maps/SEF9X

The Ohio Turnpike uses square borders as well, plus the NYS Thruway Authority uses square borders from time to time (usually on E-ZPass signs).
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