citizenrod bad design road markings
citizenrod bad design road markings

Has this happened to you? You’re driving along the road when suddenly you lose track of the lane markings. With no other cars around, you quickly scan for any reference point, anything that will help you re-orientate yourself.

Am I in my lane? ….Am I on the correct side of the road?!

Everything comes into question in that moment of disorientation. It can be quite unnerving at times.

Lane markings have issues, and bad design means that even to this day they are still a problem. Sure, bad weather doesn’t help, as seen in the above image, where a wet road, low light, and reflections, means they are completely invisible. But they are also a problem in the daytime, even on a perfect day, as shown in the next images.

citizenrod bad design road markings invisible

Blue skies, perfect weather, still a problem. The issue here is the tar that has been used to fix the road. Logically, back on the drawing board it made sense. “We need to cover up road fixes, what can we use?”, “well, the road is black, and the line markings are white, let’s keep that contrast going and use black tar”.

Firstly, roads are not black, black black that is. One should say they are in fact grey. But more importantly, when you ask yourself “what colour is the road?”, the answer should be…


Like I always say, the answer to every question is, “depends”. I do cope a bit of slack for standing by this at times, but it’s true, and you should be answering this way ALL THE TIME! It is a great tool, which helps you reflect on the question being asked.

So, for this question, “what colour is the road?”, the answer will depend on many factors. Here are some questions/situations, and possible answers (there are many more):

What colour is the road..

  • at night, with no rain and yellow street lights? — black with a yellow tinge
  • at night, with no rain and white street lights? — dark grey
  • at night, with rain, in the CBD, near green freeway signs? — black and green
  • at night, with rain, near a Coca Cola billboard? — black and red
  • on a clear day, with sun shining on the road? — light grey
  • on a clear day, in the shadow of a building? — very dark grey, almost black
  • on a clear day, in the shadow of trees? — it’s spotted or patterned, like a leopard, with light grey and dark grey spots, but thanks to the contrast and your eyes adjusting, the light grey spots can also look white!!
citizenrod bad design road markings sunlight

So, you can see, the answer of “depends” really does stand true here. Especially in this road/traffic situation, where people’s safety is paramount.

The task of a designer is to try to foresee all these issues before they become issues. This is why we observer, test, experiment, prototype, mvp, mockup, etc etc. Of course, we can never predict every possible situation, therefore we need to find the right balance in order to move forward, or else we would never ship anything. But we’ve been using the same techniques on roads for decades, surely it’s time for a rethink, for a redesign.

Any takers?

Citizenrod art design think

Citizenrod | art | design | think

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