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School and Playground Zone Signing

Signs Referenced

WC1-School Zone

WC3-Playground Zone

This paper will attempt to outline the basic city-wide issues found with City of Winnipeg school and playground zone signs. Solutions to all problems have been included as well as many additional recommendations that could be used to increase safety above the basic requirements. The issues have been split into three major sections that include subsections with a final section that gives the basic list of everything presented.

Section 1 - Playground and School Signs
1A - Missing Signs 1B - Cross Street Interference 1C - Horizontal Placement and Alignment 1D - Tabs

Section 2 - School Zone Signs

2A - Sign Size 2B - Dual Signing

Section 3 - Playground Zone Signs

3A - Sign Size 3B - Dual Signing

Section 4 Outline & Final Example

Section 1 - Playground and School Signs

1A - Signs Missing
Proper maintenance is essential for school and playground zone signs. Some signs in Winnipeg have been missing for many months with no effort to replace them. The playground zone sign on

London Street was first reported missing to the City of Winnipeg in November of 2010. Residents of the street stated that the sign went missing in June of 2010. At that time, the nearby stop sign was stolen and the bus shelter windows were smashed. The stop sign was replaced and the bus shelter fixed, but the playground sign was never put back despite many calls to the city in Jan and during the summer of 201o. It has now been two years that this playground has gone completely unsigned. Another location where a sign has gone missing is on east-bound (EB) Mayfair west of Main. The city was first notified that this sign (left side) was missing in March 2011 and as of March 2012, the sign has not been replaced.

The left side school zone sign on Mayfair (One-way street) EB west of Main was first observed to be missing in March 2011 and remains missing. Left side picture shows the sign missing during the summer of 2011 and the right shows the sign present as it appears on Google street-view (2009).

A third location of a missing sign is on Henderson Hwy SB south of Roosevelt Ave. The median side playground zone sign has been missing since at least Jan 2011. All three of the referenced locations are photo radar sites and photo enforcement continues with the signs missing. With each set-up, photo radar is required to ensure these signs are present and should report missing signs to Public Works. Winnipeg also needs to replace missing signs faster than a year or more after they have been reported missing.

1B - Cross-Streets
In some cases, a school or playground zone sign is placed on a street before a major intersection that occurs between the sign and the zone. Traffic turning off this cross-street has no knowledge that they are within a school or playground zone. In most cases, this occurs where the sign(s) are installed too far from the zone in order to utilize an existing pole. One example of this is on Logan EB at Weston. The playground zone sign is on the traffic light standard at Weston where traffic turning onto EB Logan from NB Weston travels behind the sign and has no chance of seeing it. The park is still a full block ahead and the sign could easily have been posted about 20m east from its current location where it would be visible to all traffic on Logan (See Next Picture).

The playground zone sign on Logan EB at Weston is not visible to traffic turning onto EB Logan from Weston.

1C - Horizontal Placement and Alignment

City of Winnipeg signing policy A-1 states, The near edge of the traffic sign shall not be closer than 0.3m nor further than 3m from the edge of the roadway. This policy also states that, Consistent set-back distances are to be utilized. Many school and playground zone signs are found to be many meters out of compliance with this standard and are at times, out of alignment with other signs on the same roadway. This practice greatly negates the advantages of following driver expectations and positive reinforcement in sign placement (consistent sign application). Signs are not where drivers expect them to be in reference to other signs and are often outside of the drivers cone of vision. This practice makes signs less conspicuous, more often unidentified, potentially increases accidents & liability and is very common such as in the examples below.

The playground zone sign on Sturgeon SB south of Silver (left) is out of alignment with the other signs on the road. This sign is unnecessarily too far off the road (middle) when it simply could have been placed beside the road. Other signs further up on this road are properly placed between the road and sidewalk (right).

The school zone sign on Main SB south of Leila (left) is on a light standard too far off the road and behind trees. At no extra expense, the sign could have been placed above the pedestrian crossing sign thats properly placed beside the road on its own post. This is done on other roads such as Henderson NB south of Knowles (right).

Care must be taken with school and playground zone sign placement to ensure that signs are more easily observed by road users. These signs must be placed in alignment with other road signs which must be within specified distances from the roadway.

1D - Sign Tabs
Many sign installations use tabs to add to the information provided by the base sign. All tabs are of two categories; supplementary or educational. Supplementary tabs add information not provided by the base sign such as a tab mounted below a turn control sign to indicate the time(s) that the turn control applies. The whole message of the sign installation is not complete without all required supplementary tabs. Since there are no specific regulations in Manitoba that selectively may or may not apply within school and playground zones, these signs are not found with

supplementary tabs. Educational tabs verbally repeat the symbolic message of the base sign to serve as clarification of the signs message and increase visibility of the sign installation as a whole. Educational tabs are not required and are used at the discretion of the traffic authority. The MUTCD does include some educational tabs that may be used with certain base signs but the list of tabs is very limited. Many traffic authorities have taken the initiative to order and install educational tabs that are unlisted in the MUTCD. Two such examples commonly found in Winnipeg are the Not a Truck Route and Do Not Enter tabs found beneath many Not a Truck Route (RB62) or Do Not Enter (RB22) base signs (See Below).

Two base signs that are never found in Winnipeg with educational tabs are the school and playground zone signs. These signs should be a higher priority for educational tabs since they involve the safety of children. Not a Truck Route signs have a very distinctive design and are not at risk of being mistaken for another similar sign. These signs are also only of interest to truckers who should be most familiar with the sign. Following the city of Winnipegs policy of no road being a truck route unless signed as, not a truck route signs are not even required at all with or without educational tabs. Two signs that could more easily be mistaken for another sign are the school and playground zone signs since there are other similar looking signs (See Below). Similar Looking Signs - All Currently on Winnipeg Streets

WC16 - School Crossing (New)

WC16 - School Crossing (Old)

WC3 - Playground Zone

WC2 - Pedestrian Crossing Ahead

WC1 - School Zone

Besides clarification of the signs message, educational tabs serve an equally important role by increasing the overall surface area of the sign installation. This serves a similar advantage as using oversized signs. Some drivers (especially new) may recognize the word message easier and faster

than the figures on the sign. One jurisdiction that does recognize and utilize the advantages of using educational tabs in childrens areas is the City of Flin Flon. (See Below)

Flin Flon
Almost all WC1 (school zone-middle) and WC3 (playground zone-left) signs installed by the City of Flin Flon have educational tabs.

Overall, 83% (190/230) of Winnipegs installations of the RB62 Not a Truck route sign utilizes an educational tab. Winnipeg needs to begin using this method for more important safety uses such as for the signing of childrens areas where currently there is not a single school or playground zone sign with a tab. The best place to start would be to use tabs on arterial streets and truck routes.

Section 2 - School Zone Signs

2A - Sign Size
The City of Winnipeg installs two different sizes of WC1 School Zone signs; 60x60cm and 75x75cm (Oversized). City Policy A-17 states, In areas where speed limits are 60 km/h or more, School Area Signs shall be oversized (75x75cm). Despite the requirement for oversized signs, many school zones on 60 km/h roads use 60x60cm signs. Three such pairs of these undersized signs are found on Portage Ave which has the highest lane count of any road in the city where larger signs are most essential.

An example of undersized school zone signs on Portage WB west of Roseberry.

Taylor EB west of Harrow with less traffic and fewer lanes than Portage does use the proper 75x75cm signs for a 60 km/h zone.

Other streets with undersized school zone signs are Dakota, Henderson Highway, McPhillips and St. Marys. Winnipeg needs to follow its own signing policy and replace signs that do not meet requirements.

2B - Dual Signing
On divided and one-way streets, many signs are placed on the right and on the left/median side of the roadway. This practice doubles visibility and prevents larger vehicles from blocking the line of sight for drivers in small vehicles. The school zone sign is the only sign in the city which is stated by internal city policy that it shall be dual signed. Despite this policy, many school zone signs can be found single signed on divided roads (See Below) All of the school zone signs below have been installed only on one side of a divided road for at least 2 years.

St. Annes NB north of Meadowood.

Grant WB east of Stafford

Markham NB north of Bison.

In order to follow internal policy and maintain consistency on the roadway, Winnipeg needs to dual sign all school zone signs on divided roads.

Section 3 - Playground Zone Signs

3A - Sign Size
The MUTCD prescribes minimum dimensions for signs and permits proportional increases (oversized) above these minimums. Although Winnipeg does have a policy that mandates school zone signs to be oversized in 60 km/h zones, no such policy exists for playgrounds. As with most warning (usually yellow diamond) signs, the MUTCD minimum dimensions are 60x60cm. This is the same size for curve, deer crossing, traffic signal ahead and many other warning signs. In practice, Winnipeg has numerous oversized warning signs that are above the 60x60cm MUTCD dimensions (See Below).

Playground zone sign on Henderson SB north of Chalmers is the minimum size (60x60cm).

Deer crossing sign on Roblin WB west of Princeton is 75x75cm.

Curve ahead signs on Waverley SB north of Scurfield are extra large oversized (90x90cm).

Children should be considered at least as important as deer. In the same way as school zone signs, oversized playground zone signs should be required in 60 km/h zones and used discretionally in 50 km/h zones. Other cities use oversized playground zone signs. (See Below)

Oversized (75x75cm) playground zone sign in Flin Flon.

3B - Dual Signing
Currently, playground zone signs are randomly dual signed. Of the 57 approaches to playgrounds Winnipeg has on divided roads, 23 are dual signed. In 50 km/h zones, 13 out of 38 approaches are dual signed. In 60 and 70 km/h zones, 10 out of 19 are dual signed. Roads with arterial or truck route status do not seem to be dual signed any more often than residential roads. (See Below) Examples taken from the St. James area demonstrate Winnipegs inconsistency with dual signing in playground zones.

Ness is an arterial road, truck route and has a speed limit of 60 km/h. Despite this, none of the four playground zone signs are dual signed.

Moray is also an arterial road that lacks dual signed playground zone signs. Moray usually has parked vehicles that obstruct the view of the sign.

The only dual signed playground zone signs in St. James are on Westwood which is a residential road. It is not an arterial or a truck route and has a 50 km/h limit.

Ness and Moray (single signed) are listed and utilized as photo radar locations and Westwood (dual signed) is not. Children should be considered no less vulnerable in playground zones than school zones. Dual signing is already required in school zones and should be utilized for playgrounds.

Section 4 - Summary of Conclusions

1.) 2.) 3.) 4.) 5.) 6.) 7.) 8.) 9.)


Missing signs need to be replaced Photo radar should not enforce when signs are down The city should use photo radar to report downed signs Signs should be placed between a major intersection and the start of a zone Signs need to be placed in alignment with other signs Signs need to be within prescribed distances from the road The city could use educational tabs to increase sign visibility The city needs to used oversized school signs in 60 km/h zones All school zone signs must be dual signed on divided roads Playground zone signs should be dual signed on divided roads Playground zone signs should be oversized at certain locations

Final Example

St. Marys NB north of Crystal represents an example of both a missing sign and an undersized sign. The right side sign is missing and the median sign is 60x60cm even though St. Marys is a 60 km/h zone which requires 75x75cm signs. The pole on the right with the no parking sign should be supporting the primary school zone sign. This also an enforced photo radar location.