We recently ran across this post by Alissa Walker for Good.Is about an artist/motorist named Richard Ankrom who got fed-up with the dangerously confusing wayfinding signs splitting the 5 North onramp from the 110 Freeway to Pasadena. The lack of a 5 North overhead sign often caused drivers to wave their hand frantically to be allowed to switch lanes at the last minute and motorists who were cut off to wave their finger in an upward motion to express their annoyance.
In a bit of public service performance art, Ankrom used his hands more constructively and crafted his own freeway directions. The altered signage, which Ankrom put up in broad daylight in 2001, was appreciated by commuters like Alissa, but was not recognized as phony until Ankrom leaked his prank to local newspapers. That’s how it came to the attention of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), which is in charge of freeway signs. Despite Ankrom’s confession, he wasn’t charged with defacing public property because, afterall, how is making something better and safer a crime? For the past eight years, Caltrans let Ankrom’s doctored sign stand. Then recently it removed it, and replaced it with an official sign that looks like Ankrom’s.