14 August 2007


Why isn't the Clearview typeface free?

Highway Gothic font vs. Clearview fontVia John Gruber, here's a neat article about Clearview, a font designed specifically to make highway signage more readable, and now being put to use in many jurisdictions, including here in British Columbia, as old road signs are replaced.

I was a bit surprised to see that if you want to get the font yourself, you need to spend at least $175 USD. If Clearview really is that much more legible and useful than its predecessors such as Highway Gothic, and therefore leads to safer driving, it would seem reasonable for the U.S. federal government or some other agency to pay the designers (who worked on the font for a long time) a decent fee to make it freely licensable to anyone. Then anyone could use it for any kind of signage anywhere, presumably even saving some lives in the process.

Given how many billions of dollars it costs to build roads, the tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars it would take to set up such a free licensing arrangement would seem like money well spent.

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