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National Transport
SIDEBAR: Parking sign arrows

This page last updated December 30, 2016


German traffic engineers sometimes like to be sadistic. One way they do that is with the arrows on no parking signs. To wit, you will occasionally come across parking signs posted like the one in the photo below:

Aren't the cars at the left parked illegally?

It would seem that the cars on the left side of the street are parked illegally since the arrows point to both sides of the street, right?

This is what it seems like the sign is indicating!

However, although the sign is faced perpendicular to the roadway, parking restrictions always apply only to the same side of the block where the sign is posted. Therefore, the arrows actually mean in both directions from the sign on the same side of the street. You may have to mentally turn the sign so that it faces the street for it to make sense, especially for signs with a single arrow on them.

You have to mentally turn the sign like this to envision what it really is indicating.

So why do they post the sign perpendicular to the roadway in the first place? Really, it's not to confound drivers. Rather, they do that so it will be visible to oncoming traffic on that side of the street. The good news is that, to alleviate the confusion for foreigners and Germans alike, signs are more often angled toward the street like the ones shown in the photo below. This helps to solve both the problem of visibility and understanding which way the arrows are pointing.

(Image source)

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