Nov 032012

Montgomery County is preparing to post bike route signs along some long new bike routes like this one parallel to Georgia Avenue.  The county’s Bicycle Action Group (MCBAG) is weighing in on the routes, sign placement and sign format.  The routes will typically be 5 to 8 miles long.

Please look at the wayfinding sign formats here on NACTO’s excellent website.   It shows what other jurisdictions have done.

Based on signs the county has already installed, we (MCBAG) are recommending the following basic format where each sign has up to three panels per post.

Top Panel:
Just a bike symbol and the words “BIKE ROUTE”

Middle Panel:
Big arrow(s) pointing along the main route.  This panel is omitted if it’s not a turn and no side destinations are identified (side destination arrows might confuse the rider if there’s no big route arrow) :

Bottom Panel:
A list of destinations with an arrow and mileage to each destination, all on one panel  (whereas some cities put each destination on a separate panel).   If all the destinations are straight ahead and the big arrow points straight ahead (or is absent) no arrows may be needed (though if the system is modular, allowing extra destinations to be added, destination arrows should always be used).

Below are a couple cleaner destination panels with more efficient use of space.  All the destinations could be on one panel or on separate panels (i.e. modular).

The combined sign:

Here’s how it all comes together (intersection of Tuckerman Lane and the Bethesda Trolley Trail):

Here’s a variety that has a named route instead of just a ‘Bike Route”:

In some cases we would like to have an additional panel that says “Sidewalk” or “On Sidewalk” to show that the intended route follows the sidewalk or path.  Example: A right turn onto a very busy road followed by a quick left turn onto a neighborhood street.  Turning right onto the busy road and then immediately turning left across six lanes of traffic is far more difficult than turning right onto the sidewalk on the far side of the main road and turning left on the residential street.  However, the sign seems universally vilified because it implies cyclists aren’t supposed to be on the road.  At least “Use Crosswalk” may be useful.  Any ideas?

Washington state

Washington, D.C.

The county may ultimately give the routes numbers, and then one of the number sign types would replace the bike route panel in our format (though this might look odd in a residential neighborhood with half a dozen turns):

For placement, we’re thinking that signs are best if placed beyond the intersection so they’ll be visible from all legs of the intersection (though this is somewhat non-standard).  For larger intersections you would put the sign before the intersection.

Most of these signs come from the MUTCD, a national signage and marking standard.  Here’s the relevant chart:

Comments are welcome!

  One Response to “Bike route signs: a matter of format”

  1. I don’t think “on sidewalk” implies cyclists aren’t supposed to be on the road, when it’s directly under a “bike route” sign — it simply says that the bike route is on the sidewalk.

    Also, for distances less than 1 mile, the 0 before the decimal point (as shown in most of the above pix) is clearer than leaving out the 0 (as in the Met Branch trail sign above).

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