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24/05/2019 Communication Science news and articles

The Infamous Yellow Sign Boards

A lot of people have seen the wave of yellow signs at Leidseplein, but why are they there? What is happening?


Leidseplein’s center added a new decor to its bicycle parking area and it’ll definitely catch your attention, if you ask me. Standing high with its flashy yellow rectangular shape, the parking signs are too many in amount to go unnoticed – so much so that people are starting to Tweet about it. In a city where glorification of its biking-populace exists, don’t you think it’s funny that so many (of the same) rule occur, and in just one area?

Leidseplein seems to have been undergoing constructions multiple times. Initially there was the reconstruction of the pedestrian lane in front of Burger King and The Bulldog Palace, and now construction workers are drilling pavements right in front of Pathe City’s entrance and the surrounding bicycle and scooter parking area. This is where the flashy 56 yellow signs play a role. The sign notifies that bikes and scooters will be forcefully removed after April 23rd due to a new construction project that will be taking place. According to the official website of the Municipality of Amsterdam, it’s standard procedure to place sign boards two weeks before the starting date of a project. Hence then commence the eyesore view overcrowding the tourist center.

Reasoning
But what’s with the abundance of signs, you ask? Why not just put up three or five? Apparently, there’s a regulatory rationale behind that. Medium’s very own correspondent, Thomas Korver, reached out to freelance journalist Tim Wagemakers via Twitter, asking if any media reports on the subject have been set center stage. Apparently, AT5, a news platform based in Amsterdam, have reported on the matter. Further, the 56 amount represents the number of bicycle parking racks. Each rack is dedicated one sign board as a preventive measure from angry bike owners – whose bikes might have been removed – in the event that they would file a complaint for being not properly communicated. Bottom line: what the municipality deem necessary is what we see as ridiculous.

The more you look at it, the funnier it gets. By now, you’ve probably seen the cover image of this article – take a look at it again and observe if it puts a smile on your face. Even nationally renowned presenter, Beau van Erven Dorens‏, tweeted, “[translated from Dutch] Hooray! The yellow signs brigade has struck again. This is not a regulation, this is comedy.” And in reality, it truly is.

Amsterdam and bikes
The metal signs likened to that of planted trees that are standing awkwardly in the middle of the park – both lack proper landscape planning as it prioritises function over aesthetic. An implication that the municipality lacked to consider was how it would impact the bike-friendly prestige that the city holds so dear. For one, it could discourage bikers – and this is not to say that it would only do so due to this unsightly signs, but more on the implications of forced bike removal. Amsterdam has the highest rate of forced bike removals in the Netherlands with one in eleven bikes usually being taken away and stored at the fietsdepot. The biking infrastructure in Amsterdam is often a topic of discourse within municipal authorities. It comprises one of the main agendas for both public and politics, wherein policy makers often strive to accommodate the needs of both actors. In light of this circumstance, however, though it does mobilise and provoke responses in relevant stakeholders, it can’t be helped that cynicism forms as a by-product to its execution.

Cover: Thomas Korver

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