Signing away Basel’s public purse

Incomprehensible signs in the center of Basel (Images: zVg)

The online newspaper ’20 Minuten’  has criticized the sign madness in Basel over its traffic signs. But that’s actually only half the truth.

Today, Wednesday, the commuter newspaper ’20 Minuten’  drew attention to a problem in Basel that a reader reporter had brought up. There were 16 ‘no stopping’ signs in a row and this forest of signs on Birsstrasse pointed out a future stopping and parking ban over a very small space. The observation was that there was a sign at practically every parking space on the side of the road.

The newspaper thus addresses two issues at the same time: on the one hand, the waste of money with such an undertaking is addressed. The administration is obviously putting up far too many signs, which causes additional costs. On the other hand, the article also picks up on a certain stupidity in society, in case anyone thinks that so many identical prohibition signs are needed in a single place.

Good intentions or system failure?

The Basel authorities told the newspaper that the Industrielle Werke Basel (IWB), a state-owned company, would deliver high-voltage cables there and that the construction company responsible probably went a little over the top with all the warnings. Ultimately, however, such exaggerations fall back on the taxpayers because someone has to pay for the nonsense. And the additional statement by the Basel authorities is also interesting – that common sense is apparently no longer sufficient in the regulation, but that the law was made like this:

«It is regulated by law that the beginning, continuation and end of a stopping ban is signalled with appropriate signs. The law does not prescribe how many signs there can be,» said the cantonal police of Basel-Stadt to the newspaper.

Real sickness

But probably no other city in Switzerland has the signs madness as pronounced as in Basel. Because the sign problem is more profound than just traffic signs, as ’20 minutes’ has now addressed. The Basel sign disease goes so far that there are a plethora of ‘announcements’ for all manner of information permeating the city.

Citizens will certainly understand if signs are used to point out the zones for swimming in the Rhine or special risks of theft. Announcing events via standees is probably fine too.

But many signs are unnecessary. A good example can be seen in the city at the moment. There are posters “Stop for school children” all over the city center that are literally bursting with ‘Dimmi’, i.e. stupidity. Should drivers or trams only stop for school children? Does the «Blue L» only apply to novice drivers? It’s all just wasted money.

Incomprehension in many places

There is certainly no need for references to the «City of Pleasure Basel» or useless telephone calls either. Or are the inhabitants of the city on the knee of the Rhine particularly slow-witted? Certainly not. And, neither the citizens nor the authorities can derive any real benefit from all of these signs, because nobody knows how many accidents or thefts were prevented with the signs. In any case, the money seems to be particularly loose with the Basel canton police, because they are often listed as (co-)initiators.

However, there is still hope in the city: in addition to all of the signs with regulations and instructions, you can also make another observation in Basel. Many Basel residents simply look at all the signs and then just shake their heads as they pass by. At least they stimulate some kind of emotion!

10.08.2022/kut., ena.

Signing away Basel’s public purse

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