I ran across this opinion piece in the New York Times today, in which several people state their opinions on whether roadside memorials should be banned. I can see the other side, but I for one appreciate the miniature monuments — they haunt and remind, and hopefully pull us out of our chronic driver dissociation.
The main arguments against such memorials are: that they are relgious, personal displays in a public space, and that they distract drivers. I think there’s a big difference between displays of this sort and, say, a huge ten-commandments monument donated to adorn a city park. While perhaps it shouldn’t be illegal to remove such displays (as it is in New Mexico), I just don’t think it should be illegal to put them up. I also think the “memorial-as-distraction” argument is weak. Drivers just need to filter out distractions, as they’re always going to be around, whether it’s fancy (or horrific) architecture, signs, people, gorgeous landscapes, roadside wildlife, etc., etc., etc. It’s part of driving.
My sister pointed out that São Paolo banned outdoor advertisement. The result is eerily beautiful:
Anyway, I think that if they ban the lovely roadside memorials, they should ban ads, too, if only for aesthetic reasons.
Here’s another example of eerily beautiful removal (that I may have posted a while back).