Confusingly signed cycle routes

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mjr
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby mjr » 26 May 2015, 3:50pm

Bicycler wrote:Maybe it's my eyes but for on road routes where you are typically travelling faster and further away from the pole with the sticker, I find stickers are a bit easy to miss. Fine on a cycle track junction, I guess but on a road I'd want signs.

To be clear - I'd prefer signs, but it seems to take years to get existing signs replaced, let alone put new signs on existing routes.
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby gaz » 26 May 2015, 7:12pm

meic wrote:Another little gem is that a council will just come and close a section without notifying anybody sometimes just to allocate the space for building contractors to store their supplies :evil:. So at anytime up to a month later your volunteer will find out and then have to try and work out a patch to a route which was already tortuous, while they themselves just miss the whole mess out by riding with full priority on a direct road a quarter of the length which the path is trying to avoid. :roll:

I'll throw something else into that mix. The Volunteer has to get permission from the highway authority before they can sign a diversion to agree the proposed route. Gaining permission can be problematic. If a Volunteer does get permission the Sustrans sticker kit for diversions is more limited than the standard set.

mjr wrote:There are two ways to improve this that we're trying in West Norfolk: the first is to get as many cycleways as possible designated as highways with highway reference numbers (biggest routes first) which should mean that they appear on http://norfolk.roadworks.org before they are closed (so we can and they should have to have proper diversions as required by the Street Works Act - this isn't yet happening consistently but we seem to be moving forwards; the second is that we got disruption to cycleways included in the Norfolk Permit Scheme so utilities companies should have to avoid just blocking the whole shebang and putting up "cyclists dismount" nonsense or loose-packed gravel tracks - that's a tougher task because the nature of Permit Scheme works is they've often packed up and gone by the time complaints reach the county council.


If you are having some success already you might want to aim for something like this from Sustrans Scotland. I don't know whether that happens in practice or is just some utopian statement of intent but it looks good.
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby iviehoff » 1 Jun 2015, 1:16pm

I've just been in the Netherlands, and although it is the best in the world, the signposting system there still falls short of ideal. There are (at least) 3 systems of signposting in parallel use:

- Red signs (sometimes on mushroom shaped stones) point to destinations, usually with no qualification, but often with a distance, sometimes obviously completely wrong. Some signs just say "doorgand verkeer" which means "through routes".
- Green signs point to Knooppunt numbers. Junctions on a network of principal cycle routes are given numbers, to be found on any cycling map, and signs point to the junction numbers. At some knooppunts there is a map on a sign to help you follow the system without a paper map
- Long distance cycle route signposts - the modern numbered system of routes uses green signs, but there are also older named routes with red hexagonal signs in some areas, retained for sentimental reasons.

There are additionally very many local cycle lanes without signposting, as Dutch residential roads routinely have cycle lanes.

I found all of the above sign-posting systems incomplete and/or inconsistent. You can follow one, and then come to a junction without a sign where it is far from obvious where to go. Quite often I couldn't find the knooppunt itself - maybe I never worked out all of the various ways they could be marked, or maybe they were sometimes missing. The long distance routes seemed particularly incomplete in signing - we followed a long distance route for a while and it seemed very thinly signed. But I think there may have been some little paint splashes or something which I never spotted - I did see some such coloured markers here and there but didn't know what they were.

I used the knooppunt system quite a bit and really liked it. Even though you need a map for it, you knew exactly where you were going when you were following it, which isn't always the case when a red signpost points to a larger town (where in the town?). But clearly it isn't for everyone, and has incomplete coverage of cycle routes, so having the parallel destination posts is clearly also necessary, even if you don't always know exactly where it is taking you. The fact that the signing is incomplete isn't an argument against it, but shows that even the country with the best cycle infrastructure in the world hasn't made it perfect. We have to be aware that perfection is hard to achieve, and not knock something just because it falls short of perfection.

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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby pwa » 1 Jun 2015, 1:33pm

A few days ago I rode from my home in the Vale of Glamorgan to the Hay Festival, using the Taff Trail for the central part of the ride. I managed to lose the route several times, looking for non-existent signs to guide me. Lots of time wasted. And when I did find the route again around Merthyr Tydfil I was treated to a lovely tour of the town's new(ish) retail park. The best part of the route was to the north of Merthyr, on minor roads, and that was a section I have used many times in the past without realising it is claimed by Sustrans as part of their National Cycle Network. Thanks, Sustrans, for giving me what was mine anyway!

For the last twenty miles of the ride I chose my own route, some of which happened to be NCN. I got to my campsite in time to put up the tent, shower and eat before seeing Jack Dee at the Festival. Success, in spite of trying to follow the Taff Trail.

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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby meic » 1 Jun 2015, 1:47pm

A couple of weeks before you, I cycled from Cardiff to Brecon on the same Taff Trail and only had one mistake.

But I have a GPS with a downloaded track on it. :lol:

The signs were typical "OK if you already know where you are going" standard.

On the other hand I didnt enjoy pushing the bike up the stairs under the A470 just before Merthyr. :evil:
I thoroughly enjoyed the spontaneous party that happened when I stopped for lunch in the sunshine on the last viaduct and was joined by two passing walkers and a lost climber.
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby pwa » 1 Jun 2015, 3:36pm

Meic, the letters G,P and S did occur to me when I went off track. But the whole Taff Trail experience left me less than content. It is like one of those quilts made of lots of odd scraps sewn together. A bit of nice, dedicated track, a bit of car park, a bit of urban footpath renamed, a track so potholed that you could swear the Luftwaffe had just left. And without GPS the hesitant navigating made me so incredibly slow. Once back on the roads, to the north of Merthyr, my speed returned to normal and I heaved a sigh of relief. The tilting canal bridge at Talybont on Usk was stuck in the up position, so I could not get to the shop, but as that is slightly off the Taff Trail I will have to blame British Waterways for that little setback.

On the plus side, I found a beautiful new campsite near Felindre (or Velindre, depending on which spelling you prefer) between Talgarth and Hay. Newcourt Farm is slightly raised above the Wye Valley, so has extensive views of fields, hedgerows, hills and woodland, with red kites circling overhead. The owner is very friendly, and it is a really nice place to be. Basic toilet / shower block, and a large covered area to cook and eat if it rains.

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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby Ron » 1 Jun 2015, 11:54pm

iviehoff wrote: - we followed a long distance route for a while and it seemed very thinly signed. But I think there may have been some little paint splashes or something which I never spotted - I did see some such coloured markers here and there but didn't know what they were.

Possibly you were following a long distance walking route?
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby sjs » 2 Jun 2015, 8:42am

drossall wrote:Stevenage, which is more local to me, is as difficult, but on a smaller scale, and with fewer signs.



For fun, I once followed NCN 12 signs around the cycle network of Stevenage (didn't go there specially, it was on my way home. I'm not that strange). I ended up going round in circles.

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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby Vorpal » 2 Jun 2015, 9:19am

I find signposting in the UK, in general, to be pretty poor. It's absolutely fine if you are following motorways. It's only mediocre if you are following A roads, where you need to know the name of the next town(s) at every junction, or you may not know which way to turn. this can be awkward when driving alone in an unfamiliar part of the country. I've been know to stop and study a map, so that I have an idea how directions will be signposted at each junction. (what's wrong with using compass directions on sign posts??)

On country lanes, junctions are *mostly* signposted with the next little green or village, or cluster of houses. Sometimes, that seems to be a farm that I can't find on the map. Sometimes it's obvious, but not in the same direction as the road and I have to work out on the map why it's signposted that way.

Sometimes, junctions are signposted with apparently random villages in the direction the road goes (i.e. maybe the 2nd or 3rd village, rather than the next one). I presume that is due to size, having a pub, church, school, or some other less-than-obvious criterion.

Sometimes, junctions are signposted for the next town, even though there are 15 junctions and 5 villages between Here and There.

Sometimes, junctions are signed with name of the road. Sometimes, they are signed with the number (e.g. B1045).

There is a moderate chance that if the junction is signed with 'B1045' the map says 'Ash Road' and if the signpost says 'Ash Road' the map says 'B1045'.

Sometimes junctions don't have village or road names, but one of those little brown signs, which might be a local attraction, or it might just be that Joe's Garden Centre have paid the council to get their business signposted on random country lanes.

These rules are subject to change from one county / shire to the next. :lol: :lol:

IMO, sustrans have done pretty well to make sense of this mess by putting little stickers on the poles :lol: :lol:
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby mjr » 2 Jun 2015, 12:25pm

sjs wrote:For fun, I once followed NCN 12 signs around the cycle network of Stevenage (didn't go there specially, it was on my way home. I'm not that strange). I ended up going round in circles.

Yes, that will happen on NCN1 in King's Lynn too, because the route is currently blocked by the pedestrian zone. I'm likely to put a dubious-but-not-exactly-illegal route on the maps.
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby Bmblbzzz » 2 Jun 2015, 2:53pm

IME, the problems with cycle route signage can be broken down into three areas:

Infrastructure
— 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.

Legibility
— 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.

Consistency
— 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.

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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby iviehoff » 2 Jun 2015, 4:13pm

Ron wrote:
iviehoff wrote: - we followed a long distance route for a while and it seemed very thinly signed. But I think there may have been some little paint splashes or something which I never spotted - I did see some such coloured markers here and there but didn't know what they were.

Possibly you were following a long distance walking route?

I'm quite sure I wasn't. The numbered long-distance cycle routes are preceded by the letters LF followed by the number of the route, and are grey-green, and were in the right place according to the map. http://en.nederlandfietsland.nl/en/long ... cle-routes The question is, were there small repeater signs whose nature I did not identify, because the obvious LF signs were not at every junction, nowhere near, on the route. And I followed several of these routes for extended sections at times.

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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby meic » 2 Jun 2015, 5:09pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:IME, the problems with cycle route signage can be broken down into three areas:

Infrastructure
— 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.

Legibility
— 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.

Consistency
— 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.

Consistency:

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. :roll:

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.
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby gaz » 2 Jun 2015, 7:37pm

There are other issues with place names for Sustrans Rangers.

There isn't much room on the stickers to fit place names. One place name is not going to be legible above a sedate pace, more than two and it's overcrowded. To make room for place names the accompanying arrows are usually made smaller. For this reason when requesting a place name Rangers are encouraged to only sign the next village.

Standard arrows take about 1-2 weeks to order in and it's easy to maintain a small working stock. Arrows with place names are nearer 4-6 weeks. When signing a route Rangers know that if a standard arrow is vandalised they can replace it promptly, if a place name sticker is vandalised it's going to be missing for much longer. The process of ordering a standard arrow is somewhat simpler than that of ordering an arrow with a place name.

As meic says, the default position for Rangers is to use signing from the standard pack, reserving the use of place names for remote or complex signing locations.

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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby mjr » 2 Jun 2015, 8:13pm

Yes, who needs to know the directions as long as it's easy for the signing organisation. :roll:
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