NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A billboard along the West Side of Manhattan has drivers slowing down and doing double takes because of all the words on it.
As CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported, some think the sign is a dangerous distraction.
The headline on the sign for Lyft along the Henry Hudson Parkway flat out says, “This is a bad sign.” But as to the four lines of text below, can you actually read this while you’re driving? You should not be doing so.
“We’re on a road. It was designed so people could go pretty fast. But clearly that’s not the case. It’s weird we’re even having this conversation right now – and not weird in a good way. Look, we’re not saying we can just snap our fingers and make all this go away. But we are saying you can just push a button and make it go a little better, and the more people who push the better things will go,” the billboard reads in finer print.
“Bad idea,” one motorist said. “Distraction for drivers.”
Drivers at 125th Street agree the billboard for Lyft – of which there are two – does not seem safe with all the words and small font.
“It’s terrible,” another driver said. “It’s too small and you can’t read that much when you’re driving.”
But another said, “I read pretty fast — doesn’t bother me.”
But “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz said the sign was indeed distracting.
“I saw the sign,” Schwartz said. “It distracted me, took my eyes off the road, it should be removed.”
Schwartz is an expert on traffic in the city, and said it takes about 18 seconds to read one of the billboards.
“And 18 seconds if you’re going 50 miles an hour, you’ll travel a quarter of a mile. Even if you’re going at 30 miles an hour, you’re going to travel 500 feet in the time it takes to read that,” Schwartz said. “And that is really dangerous.”
A spokeswoman for Lyft said the plan for the billboards was strategic placement — in places with heavy congestion where commuters are often stuck at a standstill.
But unless you are stuck in the evening rush, traffic is usually zipping along the Henry Hudson Parkway near 125th Street, where other billboards have shorter messages.
Traffic is generally slower on the Gowanus Expressway, which has another Lyft billboard. But Schwartz said even in bumper-to-bumper traffic it’s not safe to read.
“You’re still going about, at 20 miles an hour, 30 feet per second,” he said. “So if you even glance for three seconds, you’ve traveled almost 100 feet. Something could happen in 100 feet.”
It’s up to the billboard’s owner to approve content — in this case, OutFront Media, which tells CBS2 it has not received any complaints.