Amusing “Don’t step on the grass” park sign in Bucharest

Bucharest has one of the highest population densities in Europe. The urban planning centred on the citizen’s needs has never been a priority for the authorities of this city. A majority from among its nearly 3 million inhabitants are poorly educated, first and second generation former peasants from the Romanian countryside that sill retain in many aspects a medieval mental set up. That fact is reflected in the general lack of preoccupation for a balanced healthy habitat, which includes restoring the architectural heritage of the city to its former glory or protecting and extending its parks and green spaces.

Because these green areas are so sparse and the population so huge, there is customary for the authorities not to allow public access on the grass lawns. That is typically advertised using small billboards placed next to or on the grass plot informing of the relevant city council bylaw forbidding access and warning the passer-by about the heavy penalty meted out to all those that dare stepping on the grass.

As a result of the huge influx of half-literate new dwellers originating in the countryside, unable to comprehend the old billboards’ written information, the city council has come up with a new and amusing sign design, which I recently encountered in the Gradina Icoanei area. The message conveyed by the two crossed over bare foot soles is indeed plain obvious and adequate to the actual dismal literacy level of the average citizen, producing better results that the previous scripted signs.

Bucharest park signpost: "Do not step or sit on the grass", heavy penalty applies by council bylaw (Valentin Mandche)

Bucharest park sign: “Don’t step on the grass”, city council bylaw, heavy penalty applies (©Valentin Mandache)

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3 comments on “Amusing “Don’t step on the grass” park sign in Bucharest

  1. Tudor: can you please explain to me how Bucharest is not the most backward capital in the European Union? I see ferocious dogs everywhere, complete disregard for the law everywhere and a dirty and dusty city with a crumbling infrastructure and corrupt officials.

  2. Hi Tudor, I was sure of raising a hail storm with this post. Sometime is good to write unadulterated impressions about one of the infinite facets of a huge urban agglomeration such as Bucharest. It is not about hating or loving the city; my position in this article has been neutral. Bucharest and Romania, whether we like it or not is still in most aspects at a 19th century way of thinking. It is catching up fast anyway, and I am sure the next generation would again appreciate its urban heritage. The phenomenon is not new: it has happened also in late 19th century when locals furiously demolished their Ottoman heritage architecture, building naive flowery, un-proportionate French style dwellings. The next generation, on the contrary, produced the magnificent Neo-Romanian style and a golden generation of intellectuals. We face now the same process: a poorly educated mass after the fall of communism, pretending to behave like worst examples in the west, with the next generation most probably in a position to recover the city’s traditions and heritage.

  3. “A majority from among its nearly 3 million inhabitants are low educated, first and second generation former peasants from the Romanian countryside that sill retain in many aspects a medieval mental set up”
    “…huge influx of half-literate new dwellers originating in the countryside, unable to comprehend the old billboards’ written information”

    … you should decide: you can’t love the city and hate the citizens with such intensity.

    I usually enjoy your posts, but this time you make Bucharest sound like a town of chimpanzees.

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