Non- … but not … or … except …

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From Lane Greene:

I've never seen an LSAT exam, but I can imagine this as the premise for a question:

Non-folding bicycles may be taken, but not on trains arriving at Stratford or Liverpool Street between 0745 and 0945, or leaving these stations between 1630 and 1830 on weekdays (except public holidays).

"Given circumstances X, Y, Z, are you potentially in violation of this regulation?"

Of course, you'd need to give testees a route map and schedule, so they could estimate which trains arrive at the cited stations when.

But the real interpretive crux of the matter is whether "on weekdays (except public holidays)" modifies only the immediately previous clause "leaving these stations between 1630 and 1830", or both sides of the previous disjunction "arriving at Stratford or Liverpool Street between 0745 and 0945, or leaving these stations between 1630 and 1830".

Common sense says "yes", but many a court case has hinged on similar questions.

In any case, whoever drafted this sign needs to find a new profession.

Update — Joan Maling points out that on Terry Langendoen's website, there's this picture of a "Sign in 200 block of E Uhler Av, Alexandria VA":

Extra points on your pseudo-LSAT for a cogent explanation of what "EXCEPT SUNDAY" means in this context…


  1. Yerushalmi said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 6:35 am

    Wow, it is surprisingly difficult to formulate these conditions in a sensible fashion. As an editor, I'll give it my best, three-minute shot:

    Non-folding bicycles may be brought on all trains except the following:
    * Trains scheduled to arrive at Stratford or Liverpool Street stations between 0745 and 0945
    * Trains scheduled to leave Stratford or Liverpool Street between 1630 and 1830
    Non-folding bicycles may be brought on these trains on weekends or public holidays.

    Were I being paid to do it, though, I'd want to sit on it for another ten minutes and try five or six alternate formulations until I found one I was happy with.

    (Also, even though common sense says "yes" to the "weekends" question, the presence of the comma after 0945 and the lack of one after 1830 seem to imply that the intended interpretation is "no".)

  2. Keith said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 6:41 am

    @Lane: "testees"?

    "Testee" is just nerdspeak for "candidate".

  3. Lane said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 7:05 am

    @Keith, perhaps a fair point, but the text below the tweet is Mark's, not mine.

  4. MsH said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 7:06 am

    I think most of the intended audience, like me and presumably the person who wrote it, would skip over everything after "but not" and read it as I do: "No bicycles on rush hour trains, except folding bicycles".

    The rest is a definition of rush hour trains. So it's perhaps intended to be read only in the rather unlikely circumstance that some fool actually tries to get a bicycle on a rush hour train – probably physically impossible – and the resulting argument includes "you can't stop me!".

  5. Adam Roberts said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 7:07 am

    I may incur people's wrath here, but this sign doesn't seem so bad to me (maybe it's a lifetime of travelling on TfL). I assume the sign is at one or more stations that serve the east and north-east of London in and out of the city-centre. People overwhelmingly bring bicycles into London at the start of the working day, and out again at the end (as opposed to, for instance, that vanishingly tiny population of people who live in central London and are likely to be travelling outward to Essex with their bikes). This, I think, is a context liable to be taken as axiomatic by the readers of the sign. Non-folding bikes are an inconvenience to other passengers (actually, in my experience, so are folding bikes on really crowded services; but never mind that for the moment). So the sign is saying: you can bring non-folding bikes on these services, but not if your journey arrives into or departs from central London during rush hour. Since rush hour needs to be defined, they give times and days of the week. But anybody reading the sign would understand it. No?

  6. Adam Roberts said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 7:08 am

    MsH beat me to it, and expressed him/herself more laconically too. I stand down.

  7. Lane said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 7:26 am

    I've been commuting into Central London daily (except for weekends and public holidays!) for 10 months now, which doesn't quite make me a pro, but not an amateur either. I do have a non-folding bike (like "acoustic guitar" or "printed book", a fun retronym) and I would dearly like to combine it with various kinds of commuting options from my bit of SE London, and I found the sign required me to read it about three times to understand it.

    Not pictured: this note applies only to those lines denoted by a yellow line on the map adjacent. There were different restrictions, on a separate sign, for other lines signified by red lines on the map. Then many of the lines were grayed out, presumably meaning I can't use my non-folding bike ever. (I think the sign I posted is what's called the original "exception that proves the rule." If you say "no parking Sundays" that means parking is OK the other days. If you say "non-folding bikes OK here" that means "they're not OK under other circumstances).

    So, much simpler version of the whole thing: "Got a real bike? You're almost definitely screwed. But look at this map. Do you live on these few lines in red or yellow? Try this intelligence test to see if you're smart enough to bring your bike into Central London!"

  8. Ralph J Hickok said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 7:30 am

    I agree with MsH and Adam Roberts. I don't see any great difficulty in understanding what the sign means.

  9. Ray said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 7:45 am

    As I was going to St Ives,
    I met a man with seven wives,
    Each wife had seven folding bikes,
    Each bike had seven wire racks,
    Each rack had seven round-trip tix:
    Tix, racks, bikes, and wives,
    How many were there going to St Ives?

  10. Jerry Friedman said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 8:26 am

    Is what matters when the train is scheduled to leave or arrive, not when it actually leaves or arrives?

    Keith: The people who give the LSAT do refer to those who take it as "candidates", but I'd say using that is nerdview, since John Q. Public doesn't refer to them that way. I'd probably come up with something such as "prospective law students".

  11. J.W. Brewer said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 8:43 am

    Here's an excerpt from Metro-North's when-are-nonfolding-bicycles-allowed-on-trains policy, designed to address conceptually similar issues. Note that it is so precise as to be harder to misunderstand, but at the cost of being so wordy that it would require a very large sign or very small print:

    Conditions on use of Bicycle Access Permit

    Customers who wish to bring their bicycles onto Metro-North trains shall display a valid permit. Permit holders shall be governed by the following conditions:

    a. Weekdays

    i. Outbound from Grand Central Terminal

    Bicycles will not be permitted on trains scheduled to depart from Grand Central Terminal between 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM, and connecting trains. Bicycles are also prohibited on specific trains departing Grand Central Terminal between 5:30 AM and 9:00 AM, 3:00 PM and 3:59 PM, 8:01 PM and 8:15 PM, as identified in Metro-North timetables. On the Friday after Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, bicycles will not be permitted on trains scheduled to depart from Grand Central Terminal between 5:30 AM and 12 Noon; 3:00 PM and 8:30 PM, and connecting trains.

    ii. Inbound to Grand Central Terminal

    Bicycles will not be permitted on trains scheduled to arrive in Grand Central Terminal between 5:00 AM and 10:00 AM, including connecting trains, and on other trains identified in Metro-North timetables. On the Friday after Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, bicycles will not be permitted on trains scheduled to arrive in Grand Central Terminal between 5:00 AM and 12 Noon, 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM, and connecting trains.

    b. Holidays and Holiday Eves

    No bicycles will be carried on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, Eve of Rosh Hashanah, Eve of Yom Kippur, Eve of Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day. In addition, no bicycles will be permitted on trains scheduled to depart Grand Central Terminal between 12 Noon and 8:30 PM on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend; the weekday before the observed Independence Day holiday or the Friday before Independence Day weekend; and the Friday before Labor Day Weekend; including connecting trains.

  12. J.W. Brewer said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 8:56 am

    If I were trying to boil down that superdetailed Metro-North policy to something that would fit on a sign, I would try the following (which assumes the reader knows the exact parameters of "peak-hour" in a Metro-North context, including that it's a concept that doesn't apply on weekends — not that unreasonable an assumption since the peak/off-peak distinction is ubiquitously relevant to whether you have purchased the correct ticket for a particular train).

    "No non-folding bicycles permitted, even with permit, on inbound morning peak-hour trains, outbound evening peak-hour trains, and certain additional trains as designated in timetables. Additional restrictions may apply during holiday periods. Consult ____ for further details."

  13. F said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 9:10 am

    The TfL website puts it rather differently [].

  14. DWalker said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 9:55 am

    "I think most of the intended audience, like me and presumably the person who wrote it, would skip over everything after "but not" and read it as I do: "No bicycles on rush hour trains, except folding bicycles"."

    I agree with this. If I read a long thing that talks about "non-folding bicycles", I always want the counterpart clause about what, if anything, applies to folding bicycles to be spelled out.

  15. Adrian Morgan said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 10:30 am

    Following Yerushalmi's rewrite, the best attempt of my post-midnight procrastinating-bedtime brain, taking brevity into account, is:

    On weekdays other than public holidays, non-folding bicycles are not permitted on trains arriving at Stratford or Liverpool Street stations between 0745 and 0945, or departing those stations between 1630 and 1830.

    If there is a reason to emphasise that bicycles are permitted on most routes, I can only suggest doing so in a separate paragraph.

  16. Mark Meckes said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 10:57 am

    Myself, I have difficulty telling what common sense means to be saying "yes" to, in response to a dichotomy presented in the form, "The crux of the matter is whether A, or B".

  17. Bartleby said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 11:22 am

    @Keith, perhaps it should be testicles.

  18. Mara K said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 11:51 am

    I am not familiar with the concept of folding bicycles. For me that just adds another layer of complexity.

  19. richardelguru said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 12:32 pm

    none, because St Ives is on the Penzance Line.

  20. Robot Therapist said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 12:52 pm

    I would be completely baffled by the Metro-North sign. In section a(i), what does "and connecting trains" mean? Isn't any train a "connecting train"? I'm not trying to be difficult. As a visitor that would leave me with no idea what is prohibited. And WHY is it varied in a(ii) to "including connecting trains"? "A and B" is quite different from "A including B". I have no idea if the variation is intentional or a mistake. It's an example of how the more they try to use legalistic impressive-sounding language, the less precise it actually becomes.

  21. Jerry Friedman said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 12:56 pm

    Robot Therapist: I'd guess that "connecting trains" means "trains that connect with the ones just mentioned."

  22. DWalker said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 1:07 pm

    "On weekdays other than public holidays, non-folding bicycles are not permitted on trains arriving at Stratford or Liverpool Street stations between 0745 and 0945, or departing those stations between 1630 and 1830."

    I'm still confused about what happens on public holidays.

  23. Ralph J Hickok said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 1:29 pm

    It seems quite obvious to me that there are no constraints on public holidays.

  24. J.W. Brewer said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 2:11 pm

    I think the "connecting trains" references are unlikely to confuse someone who understands the structure of Metro-North's routes. Making the side comprehensible for someone lacking that prior familiarity might require even more elaborate wording. Designing around nerdview requires assumptions about who your audience is, or rather who you will treat as its prototypical member in terms of level of understanding of context, technical terms, etc.,, since there will likely in practice be quite a wide range of individual variation in that regard.

    ("Connecting train" means in context something like "a train that does not itself have Grand Central as either its origin or final destination," in a system where such trains are the exception rather than the rule and invariably have their schedules coordinated with those of trains that do start or finish their journeys at Grand Central in order to facilitate smooth transfers for passengers.)

  25. Gene Callahan said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 3:03 pm

    @Keith: ""Testee" is just nerdspeak for "candidate"."

    Not in the US: "candidate" is almost never used to mean "someone taking a test."

  26. Gene Callahan said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 3:07 pm

    @Robot Therapist: "Isn't any train a "connecting train"?"

    Have you never flown and heard of "connecting flights"?

  27. prase said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 3:11 pm

    I find the TfL sign pretty much clear. The only ambiguity that I have spotted is whether "on weekdays" further specifies both previously mentioned time intervals, or whether it refers only to the trains departing between 16:30 and 18:30 (so that bikes would be prohibited on the morning trains even on weekends). But the latter interpretation does not make much sense. I don't see much chances for improvement – one can split it to several sentences and add a definition to remove nested relative clauses, but that makes the sign longer. E.g. "Trains arriving at Stratford or Liverpool street between 0745 and 0945 or departing from there between 1630 and 1830 on weekdays (except on holidays) are rush hour trains. Bikes may not be transported on rush hour trains."

    On the other hand, the meaning of the second sign is an unpenetrable mystery. It would be confusing even without the "except Sunday" bit. Possible interpretations:
    1. You may park here, but on weekdays between 9 and 17 for at most 2 hrs. No parking at all on Sunday.
    2. You may park here only on weekdays between 9 and 17 for at most 2 hrs. No parking outside these intervals. On Sunday the sign does not apply, so you may effectively park here on Sunday all day.
    3. You may park for at most 2 hrs, or on weekdays between 9 and 17. On Sunday no parking at all.
    4. You may park here, but there is a 2 hour limit that applies either on weekdays (all day) or between 9 and 17 (any day, but especially Saturday), but not on Sunday.
    5. You may park here, but on weekdays between 9 and 17 for at most 2 hrs. Please take note that Sunday is not among weekdays.

  28. BZ said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 4:59 pm

    "Except Sundays" on "No Parking" signs in Philadelphia means parking is free with no restrictions on Sundays regardless of what else the sign might say. Everybody who's ever parked in Philly knows this to be the case

  29. BZ said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 5:00 pm

    I meant to include not just "no parking" but the type of "2 hour parking" sign shown above as well.

  30. Sili said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 5:20 pm

    Finnish – Suomi: SU
    American English: US

  31. Sili said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 5:21 pm

    Wrong tab …


  32. January First-of-May said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 5:34 pm

    @Mark Meckes – I had the same problem too.
    It's appropriate (the so-called "mathematician's answer") if the one answering doesn't actually want to reveal whether A or B, and it's kind of appropriate if both are true (at least in modern online English). But neither seems to be the case here; both of the options cannot be true at the same time, and it's clear from the surrounding discussion that "yes" is intended to refer to one particular option – I just can't figure out which one!
    (Yerushalmi seems to assume that "yes" refers to A. It probably does make more sense; I also agree with their conclusion that punctuation suggests B.)

    @prase – my first reading was your number 5, but then the word "except" is a bit inappropriate. Your number 1 is about the only possibility where "except Sunday" actually makes sense.
    However, having never been a car driver in the United States of America (and generally having never been to the USA, and not driven a car since age seven or so), I do not have the relevant background as to what do such signs mean normally, without the random extra clauses (and/or what sort of parking restrictions are more typical).

  33. DaveM said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 5:35 pm

    The parking sign's literal meaning is clear to me, though nonsensical:

    1. During weekdays between 9 and 5, parking is limited to 2 hours.

    2. On Sundays, statement 1 is untrue.

    (Any reading which assumes that "Except Sunday" means the constraints in statement 1 don't apply to parking _on Sunday_ fails to account for Saturday.)

    3. Presumably, Sunday at midnight statement 1 becomes true again.

  34. Chris C. said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

    @DaveM — The problem is precisely Saturday, if we being by assuming "Except Sunday" was intended to convey information not otherwise present.

    @Jerry Friedman — I think we may presume that for the purposes of regulation, the trains run on time. Even if they don't.

  35. Francis Boyle said,

    June 8, 2016 @ 12:00 am

    Add me to the list of people who find very little wrong with the first sign. Personally, I would prefer list form but since that has come to be considered too intimidatingly official I've made my peace with the use of sentence form on signs. Plus, it occurs to me that this is in fact a sort of reverse nerd view: It looks complicated because we're viewing it from the writer's view but as a user I suspect it would be pretty easy to extract the conditions that apply to you. According to Wikipedia, Stratford and Liverpool Street are at the London end of the line (i.e. the terminus and the next stop before) – if you can't determine when your journey is beginning or ending you have more problems than reading a sign.

  36. Michael Watts said,

    June 8, 2016 @ 12:41 am

    I agree with MsH that the ambiguity problems involved in "(except public holidays)" are resolved by pragmatic analysis of the sign — since the sign prohibits non-folding bikes on rush hour trains, (except public holidays) has to be interpreted as allowing bikes on all trains during public holidays because rush hour doesn't occur on holidays.

    The way of making the regulations explicit that seems clearest to me involves two bullet points:

    – On weekends and public holidays, non-folding bicycles are permitted on all trains.

    – On other days, non-folding biycles are prohibited on trains which arrive at Stratford or Liverpool street between 0745 and 0945, or which leave those stations between 1630 and 1830.

    You could add "They are otherwise allowed" as an addendum to the second point, or as an independent third point, but I don't think it's really necessary.

    I tried expressing the full conditions in conjunctive normal form, but that gets pretty verbose.

  37. tangent said,

    June 8, 2016 @ 1:37 am

    I don't know how to read the parking sign other than as: a two-hour limit applies 9-5 weekdays, and all day Saturday. Sundays do as you will. An overnight two-hour limit seems pretty odd, though.

  38. Frank Y. Gladney said,

    June 8, 2016 @ 3:31 am

    "Non-folding" is a needless obfuscation. For most people, a bicycle is a rigid wheeled frame that can be mounted and ridden. One that is folded ceases functionally to be a bicycle and is just a piece of luggage, which can be carried on the train at all hourw.

  39. Ralph J Hickok said,

    June 8, 2016 @ 5:55 am

    @Frank Y. Gladney:
    I don't think so. If it didn't say "non-folding," someone who has a folding bicycle may well think that the prohibition applies. Whatever it means to most people, surely the owner of a non-folding bicycle thinks of it as a bicycle.

  40. Kenny Easwaran said,

    June 8, 2016 @ 1:53 pm

    I always used to be confused by parking signs, until I realized that in the United States, the default is that parking is free and unlimited at all times, unless specifically marked. So that means that any time it says "except", that means that the "except" is always free and unlimited. But it's really not clear if you try to interpret it as a self-contained text.

  41. Adrian Bailey said,

    June 8, 2016 @ 2:16 pm

    I think this sign is as clear as need be.

  42. Jerry Friedman said,

    June 8, 2016 @ 2:41 pm

    Kenny Easwaran: Along those lines, I'd interpret the Philadelphia sign as meaning you can park there but for more than two hours between 9 AM and 5 PM on weekdays, you can park as long as you want at all other times, and "Except Sunday" should have been left out.

  43. Charles said,

    June 8, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

    Very much related is this TfL closure sign that is much better communicated as a graphic:

    I'm not sure that using a graphic would work for peak-hour bicycle restrictions though.

  44. Bloix said,

    June 8, 2016 @ 3:53 pm

    "I am not familiar with the concept of folding bicycles."
    Folding bikes are common in England and are becoming more common in New York and other US cities. When I was a law clerk living in Brooklyn and working in Newark, NJ, I used to ride my Dahon folder across the Brooklyn Bridge, fold it up, and catch the PATH train to Newark, where I would unfold it and ride the mile and a half to the courthouse.

    For a pic of London mayor Boris Johnson on a folder, see

  45. Michael Watts said,

    June 8, 2016 @ 7:27 pm

    Question for the folding-bike people: how much grease do you get on yourself in the processes of folding, unfolding, and storing it?

  46. Graeme said,

    June 9, 2016 @ 2:14 am

    I'm with MSH and Adam. But that presumes an audience of cyclists who intuit the reason behind the rule. Brisbane rail has a simpler rule but then again the junctions in the London stations are more complex than simply in/outbound.

    "You cannot travel with your bike on the train between the hours of:
    7am and 9.30am (travelling towards the city)
    3pm and 6.30pm (travelling away from the city)"

  47. Lane said,

    June 9, 2016 @ 5:59 am

    In my defense against those who have said the sign is perfectly clear to them, there seem to be plenty of others who find it requiring a couple of readings. I like to think the readers here at LL are pretty clever; if you're causing trouble for us surely you're also making it hard on at least some significant fraction of hurried and stressed London commuters.

  48. Ellen K. said,

    June 9, 2016 @ 2:56 pm

    I would say that without the "except Sundays" it's a pretty standard U.S. no parking sign. Meaning parking is limited to 2 hours on weekdays (Mon – Fri) between 9 am and 5 pm, and parking is not otherwise restricted. Adding "except Sundays" to that makes no sense.

    I read BZ's comment about "except Sundays" on Philadelphia parking signs, and wondered if that applies in Alexandria as well and they simply put it on all signs. However, that seems unlikely, as surely at least the "no parking" signs restricting parking close on an intersection would apply on Sundays. Unless somehow they don't have those kind of no parking signs. I do think the "except Sundays" doesn't belong, but how it got there is a puzzle.

  49. Bloix said,

    June 9, 2016 @ 8:47 pm

    Michael Watts – grease and dirt is really not an issue. The bike designers understand that their clientele is office workers who need to show up clean. Generally the bikes have chain guards and you don't have to touch the drive chain in order to fold them. It does help to have a pair of old-fashioned trouser clips if you have to wear dress pants to work.

    If you're interested you can see a lot of folders and videos about them at

  50. stephen said,

    June 9, 2016 @ 9:34 pm

    richardelguru said,

    June 7, 2016 @ 12:32 pm

    none, because St Ives is on the Penzance Line.

    I think we have insufficient information because Ray and the others could have been stopped at an inn, or somebody could have been taking a detour, or Ray, being by himself, was traveling faster and caught up with the others, or…

  51. Viseguy said,

    June 9, 2016 @ 10:15 pm

    I suppose that bike-toters boarding at stations other than Stratford or Liverpool Street are expected to calculate whether their train arrives at either of the named stations between 0745 and 0945 or leaves either of them between 1630 and 1830. And what happens if they miscalculate? Fine or imprisonment?

    A court of equity should construe the sign's "arriving" to mean "scheduled to arrive", and "leaving" to mean "scheduled to leave". (I assume that bikers found to be in violation of the rule will be hauled into a court of equity.)

  52. Rob said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 2:09 am

    @Ray, ".. St Ives is on the Penzance Line."
    Um, not quite. It's on a separate branch. You need to change at St Erth.

  53. RP said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 9:25 am

    "And what happens if they miscalculate? Fine or imprisonment?"

    I'd imagine that nothing happens. Perhaps if there is a ticket inspector or other official – but I'm not sure these are ever seen on rush hour tubes because it's hard for them to squeeze into the cars – he'll ask the person with the bike to get off at the next stop. But perhaps if the car has enough space then he'll be more lenient and just say, "Strictly speaking you shouldn't be taking a non-folding bike on this train. Just so you know for next time."

  54. Bloix said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 10:51 am

    "making it hard on at least some significant fraction of hurried and stressed London commuters."

    Lane, hurried and stressed rush-hour commuters understand that they are not allowed to bring full-sized bikes on the train, and they don't want to, anyway. The sign tells people that they can bring bikes on the train outside of ordinary commuting hours. You want to go for a bike ride in the country on Sunday? That's great! Get there by train! That's who the sign is for.

  55. DWalker said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 12:12 pm

    On "2 hour parking (Except Sunday)", I realize that many people have learned what the sign means. It's still not patently obvious from the wording.

    To me, it seems to mean "you are allowed to park here for 2 hours except on Sunday". And I would interpret that to mean that you CANNOT park here on Sunday.

    I did learn what the sign "Bus Stop – No Standing" means, even though it seems ludicrous at first. People always stand at a bus stop. Are they supposed to sit on the ground?

  56. Terry Hunt said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 12:12 pm

    @ Viseguy

    On British railways, the time any "up" train is scheduled to arrive at its London Terminus is shown in most or all printed timetables and on many electronic displays (as well as often being announced over the train tannoy). It's also a crucial piece of data for planning one's journey, so virtually everyone traveling towards the termini (in particular regular commuters) should know it or be readily able to find it out.

    Stratford (4 miles downline from Liverpool Street) is only a Terminus for some overground services, but again the arrival and departure times will be well known to nearly all all passengers (or "customers" in BR Newspeak, but that's a different bugbear).

    Much the same considerations apply to Termini departure times, although admittedly those boarding a "down" train at a subsequent down station may have less immediate interest in what they were, unless conditions such as those being discussed apply to them.

    So although the logic as well as the syntax of the sign under discussion may be of theoretical interest, in the real world almost no-one is going to be caught out, especially as train staff are more likely to see and stop rogue bicycles from being entrained rather than make an issue of them once boarded.

  57. James Wimberley said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 2:20 pm

    How to do it better? A suggestion:
    (Headline) No bikes allowed in rush-hour trains.
    Clarifications in subordinate bullet points ( the fine print):
    – bike means non-folding bicycle;
    – morning rush hour means trains arriving at x or y in time period p;
    – afternoon rush-hour means trains departing from &c.
    At least whoever wrote it did not label it "Important Notice".

  58. Terry Collmann said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 2:27 pm

    stephen, richardelguru, ray – the Cambridgeshire St Ives doesn't have a railway station at all.

  59. Xtifr said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 7:33 pm

    I would have to say that many of the people offering rewrites are missing the point that the sign is trying to inform people that bicycles are allowed on trains (with certain exceptions).

    Presumably the train makes money when people ride it. Therefore, they want to encourage people with bicycles to ride the train. So, this is more-or-less an advertisement! Just a…very bureaucratic one! :)

  60. Kenny Worlitz said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 12:27 pm

    In computer programming languages we can express such conditions in a succinct and non-ambiguous manner, so these signs always annoy me. One interpretation of the parking one would be (in a fictitious language) something like:

    canPark = duration = 09:00 && time = Monday && dayOfWeek <= Friday)

    Meaning you can park if it's less than 2 hours AND (it is Sunday OR (the time is in [9AM, 5PM] AND the day is Monday through Friday)) — so parking is not allowed on Saturday.

  61. Karen said,

    June 12, 2016 @ 9:42 am

    If I had to guess, I would imagine that parking costs money, even on Saturday when you can park for more than 2 hours, but on Sunday it's both free and unlimited.

  62. Viseguy said,

    June 12, 2016 @ 5:16 pm

    @Terry Hunt: My comment was meant only half-seriously, but good to know that TfL "customers" manage to get from A to B despite the vagaries of logic and syntax.

  63. Yerushalmi said,

    June 12, 2016 @ 11:23 pm

    @Xtifr See my rewrite at the very top of this post.

  64. Gary K said,

    June 20, 2016 @ 2:24 am

    I must say there are multiple examples of nerdview on this site itself. For example, what in the world do the four options

    « Previous Page — « Previous Entries Next Entries » — Next Page »

    mean? How is a previous page different from previous entries? For another, in order to post this comment I am requested to give a URI, but what is that? Is it like a URL but misspelled? The only URI I know is the University of Rhode Island. And then there's nerdview by omission: apparently I am permitted to add my comment after certain postings, because there's a nice "Leave a Comment" section; after certain other postings the "Leave a Comment" section is missing, and yet as I can see other readers have left comments.

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