Bmblbzzz wrote:IME, the problems with cycle route signage can be broken down into three areas:
— I've been told by someone at Sustrans that they're not allowed to put up poles and metal signs, only to put stickers on pre-existing signs, lampposts and similar.
— The signs can be spotted from a good distance, but because they are all square, you cannot tell until really close which way they're pointing.
— It is extremely rare for signs to be put up in advance of junctions, so you don't get any warning that it's not this junction but the next one where you need to turn.
— Where two or more routes coincide for a length or meet at a junction, the numbers are printed too small to be distinguishable one from another in advance.
— There are national routes and regional or local routes. Sometimes these have the same or similar numbers. Sometimes national numbers supercede regional ones. But there is no consistency or clear pattern to this.
— Where national routes are numbered on an OS map, those numbers do not always match up with what is marked on the ground.
— The problem of legibility at junctions and on overlapping routes is compounded by one or other route number frequently disappearing.
— The lack of place names, prefering numbers instead, is perhaps the greatest problem. As others have mentioned, the omission of larger destinations in favour of the next district of town or even a nearby street is also a problem. Local destinations are important, but just as roads will have signs to eg "Local Shops 1 mile" and "Birmingham 50 miles" together, so it should be realised cyclists have a variety of destinations.
Quite a good analysis, I should forward it to somebody in power but I am not that active nowadays.
Have you considered volunteering as a Sustrans Ranger?
Let me answer some of those points, from the lowly position of a rather inactive volunteer Ranger.
Your point about Infrastructure is often true but not always, it depends on who owns what and how co-operative they are. the Ranger was describing their own situation which is probably the most common one.
Legibility: Yes the signs are often decided by people standing at the junction figuring out how to sign it. On occasions , like going down a hill I have stuck up advance warning signs as cyclists will be going quite fast. However we do have conditions about how we go about our signing and one is that we should not be too obtrusive, so a stream of signs giving adequate notice falls foul of that.
When two routes coincide we still use exactly the same number sticker signs, we only have the one size.
In my area at least you only have a few options that you are considering and just seeing how many digits are on it is enough (routes 4, 47 or 47X), so we may not consider each sign having a large easily read number as important along the route.
You are right that our signs are too small to spot, read and decipher while traveling at speed. The councils tend to reserve the right for proper size signs for their own use.
There was a national Signing Audit Month a few years ago, where we were supposed to go out and replace all our signs where necessary in order to get them all conforming to a national standard. Remember that the volunteer responsible will change every ten miles or so along a route. So the signs will be done by a different person with a different perspective etc etc.
With the national and regional numbers coinciding and one superceeding the other for a length, have you ever noticed that exactly the same things happen with road numbers? look at the A483 between Llandovery and Llandeilo.
The same rules apply, the major route (A40) overwriting the minor one (A483).
The OS maps are not surveyed often enough to keep up with a rapidly changing NCN, The Network is expanding so routes may be too new to be on the OS, or they may have been improved by re-routing or (more often) some more important body (like Tescos) wanted to build on our route, so it was taken off us and we were diverted between the dentist and the drug rehab centre on a 4" wide strip of gravel.
Stickers are not too difficult to peel off or post over. Sometimes by the council workers when sticking up some other road sign, I think many of them dont know what the NCN signs are!
The place names, is something that one of our latest instruction sheets has opened up to us. We can now order and place such signs more freely. In the past we have reserved them for places were paths cross or do a double back and so people know which way they should go, when there is another NCN option that is a continuation of the path they were on but not where they should be going.
I dont think that I will use a lot of them but there are places where they would be very useful. Coming out of Carmarthen railway station is an ideal one, the Council signing sends you off the wrong way to cross their very expensive cycling bridge to read a nice big sign that sends you back past the train station if you are going East.
so it should be realised cyclists have a variety of destinations
I realise that and that is why I prefer giving a route number and leaving the cyclist to make their own use of it. Signs to nearby things like railway stations are useful to people looking for railway stations and can be ignored by other people.