Confusingly signed cycle routes

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thelawnet
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Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby thelawnet » 22 May 2015, 6:15pm

I've rarely managed to follow a signed cycle route successfully, they always seem to take weird loops round housing estates, and missing crucial signposts.

I followed one today which was in completely the wrong direction, but having checked Google Maps, I now think that was because someone had twisted it round to face the wrong direction.

Does anyone find these blue-signed cycle routes to be useful and reliable guides?

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gaz
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby gaz » 22 May 2015, 6:27pm

There is no guarantee that a signed route is your best choice for a particular journey. There is no guarantee that a signed route will be signed well.

If you have chosen to follow a signed cycle route it is helpful to have it signed well.
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mjr
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby mjr » 22 May 2015, 6:27pm

Yes, I've always found most cycle-route-only signs unreliable: too easy to vandalise and councils are too slow to replace them. I first remember getting lost because of a stolen sign 20ish years ago - why haven't we solved it yet? :lol:

The most reliable ones I've seen have been panels on other (road, usually) route signs (usually quickly fixed if they get vandalised), stickers on streetlights and street names (hard to spin and cheap to fix if only the cycle route sign gets vandalised) and sign-like road/path markings like http://bristol.cyclestreets.net/location/39159/ (too hard/unattractive for most vandals?)

Maps are best, though.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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drossall
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby drossall » 22 May 2015, 9:30pm

To be fair, many road signs meant for drivers are only useful if you already know where you're going :lol: - either they appear too late for you to manoeuvre, or there's a vital one missing, or whatever. However, cycle-route signs are even worse.

I've said it before, but in my opinion the problem is that the people who erect them unaccountably assume that the principles of navigation are different on a bike. They aren't.

So, in a car, you get from London to Rugby by looking for signs to The North, or Birmingham, or some such place that is farther away than you want to go, until you get close enough for your destination to appear on signs. You do NOT look successively for Hornsey, Barnet, Potters Bar and so on.

Unaccountably, the people who put up signs in, for example, Milton Keynes forget this entirely, and assume that no cyclist would want to go as far as Aylesbury, so they don't signpost it. As a result, you can't navigate even a short distance across the city by following that "distant" destination. Instead, you need the kind of encyclopaedic local knowledge that includes where Woughton, Middleton and Woolstone villages are - and of course anyone who knows that doesn't need the signs :roll:

Elsewhere, many town centres are hiding somewhere the bodies (and bikes) of cyclists who died before they found the way home. This is because councils often signpost only "Town centre", and not the way home again. People believe many strange things about cyclists but not, as far as I know, that they ride in only one direction.

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mjr
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby mjr » 22 May 2015, 9:43pm

Now now... Milton Keynes redway direction signs were some of the first to have both the next place, the terminus on the far side of the city (in capitals) and a route number if appropriate. They just got vandalised often and no, no destinations beyond the city limits were signed. After all, why would you want to leave the redways? There be dragons! :lol:
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drossall
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby drossall » 22 May 2015, 9:53pm

I stand corrected. But I've never found my way across the city on the paths, and frequently given up and gone back on the roads to avoid being dumped in some shopping centre or park I've never seen before, or heading off in the wrong direction because of lack of a sign.

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

If signs get vandalised, just paint the directions on the cycle path? That's the other thing - cars have major routes. If you follow the A1, you're pretty confident of ending up in the north. But cycle routes are all created equal, with no sense of a main route to follow and everything else being a side turning. So surface the main routes in a different colour, since they don't really need to be wider like main car routes are?

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gaz
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby gaz » 22 May 2015, 10:57pm

drossall wrote:...I've said it before, but in my opinion the problem is that the people who erect them unaccountably assume that the principles of navigation are different on a bike. They aren't.

So, in a car, you get from London to Rugby by looking for signs to The North, or Birmingham, or some such place that is farther away than you want to go, until you get close enough for your destination to appear on signs. You do NOT look successively for Hornsey, Barnet, Potters Bar and so on. ...


You'll approve of this one then.
DSCN0562a.jpg
Long Distance Signing.

From this point Google maps gives a not entirely unreasonable route to Dover of 56 miles. Amsterdam is a mere 290 miles in the direction shown via a ferry from Dover. If you did want to ride to Amsterdam you could go in the opposite direction, just 254 miles via a ferry from Harwich. :wink:

This one should suit you too.
Inverness.jpg
Long Distance Signing

The longest option Google maps comes up with to cycle to Inverness from this point is around 650 miles :lol: .

There's also another Millennium Milepost about 8 miles east of that one, heading towards Dover on NCN1, from which Inverness is only 1112 miles :? .
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Dynamite_funk
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby Dynamite_funk » 26 May 2015, 9:24am

The Netherlands have the best system I have used. Each junction has a number and you simply note down which junction you go to next. E.g. 45,26,47,57,75 etc.

You can see an example here to the right of the screen http://en.nederlandfietsland.nl/en/cycl ... and-guides

Simple, easy and means you can plan your route, then have it written on a piece of masking tape running down your top tube. No Garmin required! ;)

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meic
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby meic » 26 May 2015, 9:52am

I have been out on what Sustrans describe as group signing rides. So a group of Sustran's volunteers and a paid staff member went out to test ride a section with most of them not knowing the route.

At many "junctions" there was a discussion about where to stick signs and how to position them. Yet there was often no agreement as people interpret what they see quite differently. Following a road is quite simple because on a motorway at a junction, you know that you are leaving on a motorway. On a Sustrans route you can be leaving a junction on any thing from a staircase to a motorway slip road, regardless of what sort of "road" you arrive on.

Another oddity of Sustrans route is that often you dont have a road at all, you enter an area (like a car park) and the signing options are very limited due to everything around being private property. The exit isnt necessarily in the direction that you are generally traveling either.

All this is due to Sustrans having a third class status when getting route and having to patch together bits by weaving around everything that caters for motorists. As a local you can pick and mix, leaping on to the road network to cut out the more ridiculous bits as a "passer through" it can be a pain in the neck.

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:
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ambodach
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby ambodach » 26 May 2015, 10:35am

The cycle paths I mostly use are north of Oban and fairly obvious anyway. With my motorist hat on I long ago concluded that road signs for drivers are only to reassure those who already know where they are going.

Tangled Metal
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby Tangled Metal » 26 May 2015, 11:27am

Years ago I took advantage of government money through the Cycling Demonstration Town (my local city was in the first 5). I filled out an online form and got a commute to work route and the offer of a member of the council team to take me out on it one saturday. I got the route and it followed the canal and then went right out of my way to avoid the A6 which is a really nice road to ride because it is not too busy and loads of other cyclists use it too. A direct corridor into town with a little side run to avoid the worst of the city centre traffic.

Basically it followed one of the national routes (6 or 90 I can't remember). Whichever one it was it must have been thought up by nobody local. Every local cyclist uses the A6 or the canal until it goes right out of the way when they switch to the A6. Signage for my local routes are OK until you get a bit north of me then you get signs which are missing when you need them and too many where you do not.

All in all I prefer a map and common sense. For example one route number (going roughly where I wanted) was full of traffic so we went on a parallel road that was quiet. SImple look at the map told us the best route not the blue signs. That is why I prefer maps. Old fashioned like that. Still I am trying to become modern and thinking of getting the OS based mapping software along with a few tiles (isn't that the modern term for map sheets?).

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mjr
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby mjr » 26 May 2015, 12:56pm

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:

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.

The third thing we're trying is developing/adopting/amending and publishing the Local Cycle Networks for our area that people actually use, which might hint to roadworkers that they're going to get complaints from people on bikes if they block them. How far we go (or can go) with this remains to be seen, but I'll have a go at adding them to maps and I'd like to try signing them by stickering signs and lampposts but I don't know yet whether the councils will welcome that or accuse us of damaging their assets.
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Rittmeister
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby Rittmeister » 26 May 2015, 1:33pm

Having vastly improved signage would improve the cycle network dramatically. It is a quick win and I suppose a relatively cheap one too compared to vast infrastructure projects.

Yesterday I rode from Runcorn to Birkenhead and followed NCN 5 for most the way. However the route appeared 'out of the blue' near Frodsham and gave no indication of where NCN 5 started or ended, which towns were passed through along the way or the general direction of travel.

I find that this is common place right across the country and if Sustrans took inspiration from the German or Belgian cycle networks with named routes, distances to next towns and key signs at junctions, then inter-city / regional cycling would become so much easier.

On numerous occasions I have stopped following the blue cycling signs and jumped on the nearest A road because the signage has been confusing or nearly impossible to follow.

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mjr
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby mjr » 26 May 2015, 2:25pm

Improved signs are a quick win but only if the infrastructure exists and is used enough that missing/needed signs actually get spotted and reported and fixed. Things like www.fixmystreet.com have helped with reporting but getting them fixed is still a problem which is why I'd like people who use bikes to take control. Maybe we can agree some guidelines that are worth following? For example:-
  • route arrow stickers should be placed fairly high so they aren't easily obscured by parked vans
  • a → turn arrow on the last available pole before a turn
  • a ^ confirmation arrow on the first available pole after a turn
  • sideways-facing double arrows ←→ at intervals along the route, both as confirmation and advertising the route to newcomers
  • print the route arrows as circles so the same sticker can do duty for all arrow directions, colour code the arrow backgrounds and print the route endpoint names around the circle border
I know this doesn't follow Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions, but nor do the asset numbers on lampposts and these wouldn't be any bigger (so I wouldn't use yellow as a route colour code in Norfolk any time soon). They would be smaller than the signs used by most sportives (some of which hang around for months afterwards...). If the highway authorities would like to replace local bike users' stickers with TSRGD diagrams then wonderful but I don't expect the current failure to signpost useful cycle route networks to end any time soon.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Bicycler
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Re: Confusingly signed cycle routes

Postby Bicycler » 26 May 2015, 2:52pm

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.