Found a new sign near the top of the Rock Island Greenway bridge over Knoxville Avenue. A sign featuring a single word: Love.
Unfortunately, the sign fails as a wayfinding aid on many levels.
Legibiliity: The letters are arrayed against a busy, multi-colored background, reducing contrast.
Placement: The sign is mounted parallel to traffic flow, reducing visibility.
Permanence: While the sign is nicely laminated and features reinforcement at all mounting points, zip-tie mounting is not a long-term solution.
Concision: The message is admirably brief; however, its meaning is unclear. This point alone warrants further review.
Is this the location of Love? If so, where are the other trail signs leading to this spot?
Or, if this is a sign leading to Love, how far away is the destination? Adding mileage to the sign would be helpful.
And while I don’t mean to harp on placement, let’s assume the cost to reposition the sign above and perpendicular to the flow of people on the trail is prohibitive. If that’s the case, and this sign intends to point you in Love’s direction, adding an arrow to it is a no-brainer.
But perhaps Love in this context isn’t a noun. Love might be a directive, like Slow Down or Prepare to Merge.
If it is, the verb Love sign is even more confusing than the noun.
What are you supposed to love? The bridge? The trail? Fellow travelers? Taxpayers who made the trail possible? The Rock Island Railroad that established the right of way in the first place? The people who advocated for the trail, both in Peoria and north of town, for decades? The people who fought the trail for just as long?
Is this a love your enemies message? If so, what’s the immediate utility in that?
In summary, it’s hard to understand why this sign exists and what it signifies or intends us to do. If it’s an important message, it’s remarkably fragile; high winds at the top of the bridge are likely to carry it away. In such an eventuality, it will be as though the sign never existed, leading one to wonder whether Love was worth the effort.
In any case, Love remains a mystery.
April 19. 1 mile.