Originally Posted by twoNeurons
The original icon for the running man was meant to convey the idea of running slowly. They played with the angles of the legs to accomplish this.
It was designed to be a clear indicator of where the exit was in the case of emergencies, yes.
Color coding the same symbol for different kinds of exits is confusing. An exit is an exit. Coloring emergency exits RED is also not a good idea (which is why there are advocates for switching to green signs for the exit).
A red or orange sign with a flame motif means what? This is where the fire equipment is? This area contains flammable materials? Recipe for disaster.
The whole reason for green signs over red is that the color red, as you mentioned, conveys danger, whereas green conveys safety. You should read that article I linked to before. It's an interesting read. Especially interesting is that two separate teams in Russia and Japan came up with very similar icons. The ISO chose the Japanese symbol.
There is also the issue of different colours as perceived by colour-blind people, who are 12%-20% (depending on whose figures you believe) of the population.
It's been a while since I've worked with a colour-blind person, but I think that red and green appear to them as greyish-yellow, so they aren't able to easily distinguish between these two common colours.
This would be quite a problem if they need to know -quickly- whether an exit they are looking at is for regular use or emergency use, although in an emergency whatever exit is closest is probably the best one to use.
I found a web-page to see if you're colour-blind:
(this page is not meant to be a substitute for proper eye testing by a doctor)