Saturday, December 13, 2008

Burnt out bulbs

Light-emitting diodes are failing in a growing number of “Walk” sign pictographs, resulting in figures that seem to be missing half their skulls, a length of their arms, a good chunk of their thighs, one or more of their hands — or all of the above, as can be seen in the figure at left.

Let’s first state the obvious: as municipal problems go, this is not No. 1 in priority. It may not even be No. 999. The phenomenon will almost certainly not result in any increase of pedestrian injuries, since the signs remain unmistakable; bright and legible even when they’re missing 10 or more of their light-emitting diodes. The walking figures’ indivisible red-hand counterparts seem to be faring a bit better, though their LEDs can fail, too. In other words, at no time soon is anyone likely to be confused as to whether the message is stop or go.

Having said all that, however, “Walk” signs with fragmentary pictographs simply look shabby, even if they continue to serve their utilitarian purpose. They convey the idea, erroneous as it may be, that the city isn’t paying attention to details and doesn’t really care. Especially in an administration that has placed emphasis on the importance of public design and streetscapes, spotty signs like this are a blemish all over town; a very small blemish, to be sure, but a blemish nonetheless.

The Wounded Walking


Anonymous said...

They convey the idea, erroneous as it may be, that the city isn’t paying attention to details and doesn’t really care.

That is not an erroneous idea. The burnt out LEDs is a mere trifle. The city does not care about way more important things like subway stations and infrastructure, parks, fire and police departments...

Luxury condos and "growth" and development is all the city cares about.
Tough questions:

Name me one subway station that shows that the city cares. Which subway station is an example of what other stations should look like in terms of cleanliness and overall appeal?

Name me your favorite public space/streetscape in Queens.

Taxpayer said...

Aren't these the same LEDs that the city wants to require that we use as substitutes for our incandescent bulbs?

Because LEDs last so much longer?

Forget the mercury. These bulbs are full of bullshit from the politicians who are trying to foist them onto the public.

Anonymous said...


Compact florescent bulbs are the ones being "foisted" upon the public. These are the ones with mercury.

LEDs are safer (no mercury) and last longer, but haven't been perfected enough yet for use in the home. I think a 7-year lifespan is quite respectable for a light bulb.

-Joe said...

The LED were likley made in China. The Chinese are notorious for fibbing power raitings.
With LEDs and solid state LASERS as soon as you start going over 1% of there raited current draw they dont get brighter they just burn.

1-you have to electronicly match and use all the LEDs to make a sign, flashlite.
Or 2 use a resistor on each LED.

I have seen these signs. They simply slapped all the LEDs in parrellel on a PC board.
The stronger LED's that draw more current ran hotter and are now dead.

This is what happens when you have the suits and bean counters telling the engineers how to build things.