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Cheeky crossing signs take on those who text and walk

Here’s a sign of the times: Hayward, California has little tolerance for those who might wander into traffic while glued to a smartphone, and they want you to know about it. They’ve commissioned and posted official crossing signs that read:

            HEADS UP!

            CROSS THE STREET.


The sign is complete with figurines holding their smartphones while presumably focusing on crossing the street instead of what their high school classmates had for lunch.

crossing signs

From The Fresno Bee.

Chris Matyszczyk covered the story for c|net and reports being “prostrate in admiration” of Hayward’s city officials for turning “some of its official messaging into what borders on contemporary art.”

The problem, of course, is that if a pedestrian is already engrossed in his smartphone, he is unlikely to actually notice the sign.

This is a sign that certainly wouldn’t have existed ten years ago. And, as cheeky as it is, it’s there for a reason. A study conducted at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Department of Health Services Research and Administration found a 50 percent increase in pedestrian deaths between 2005 and 2010. Someone should probably conduct an updated study, because we’re guessing things have become even more dismal over the past five years.

Texting and walking isn’t the only target of Hayward’s public information officer, Frank Holland, who is behind the HEADS UP sign. Holland is also responsible for similarly creative – slash – abrasive signs targeting motorists. (See, pedestrians aren’t the only ones making poor decisions.)





Holland is aware that not everyone will be on board with the messaging, but that’s okay with him. “I’m the guy that everybody can point at and say, ‘God, these are horrible.’ But you know what? If they say [the signs are] horrible, that’s OK because they’re still talking about the message and hopefully slowing down.”

Or looking up from their phones.

Holland is feeling the pressure to be similarly creative in coming up with more signs for Hayward. Matyszczyk says that, “People do so many ridiculous nonsensical things that he’ll have an infinity of opportunity and a plethora of avenues to explore.”

We’ll emphasize that those are his words, not ours. But, he may have a point.

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