Montgomery County is putting considerable effort into signing new bike routes in the county. They’ve signed four continuous road routes so far: Tuckerman-Plyers Mill-Dennis Ave, Bethesda/Fernwood Rd, Georgia Ave Corridor, and Rt 29 Corridor. More are yet to come!
Question: Which of the following four destination formats do you like best for county signs? The county has used all of these formats lately. They vary in the number of destinations per panel, total width, text flow and use of the word “miles”. Overlook the fact that one is a hiker-biker trail sign and one lacks a big arrow. Image scale is adjusted so you can compare sizes.
To start off with, the county defines a base sign configuration consisting of two panels indicating route type and route direction respectively. The route direction is shown by a big arrow (a double-headed arrow if you’re coming upon the route):
Destination Format 1
Below is what I call “destination format 1”, which puts all the destinations on one panel. It’s fairly compact. These are used on the older Tuckerman/Plyers Mill/Dennis Ave route. For example:
The following example adds a mile marker, making it clear that we’re on a defined route, not just a bike-friendly road.
The “format 1” sign assembly consists of a
- Bike Route panel
- “Big arrow” panel with an arrow pointing in one or two directions
- Single destination panel, with an arrow and mileage for each destination
- Optionally a mile marker (sometimes on the big arrow panel, sometimes on a separate panel).
- Optional panels that may say “Start”, “End” “Use sidewalk”, etc.
There’s some room for creativity with this format. The contractor can adjust the text flow to widen or narrow the panels or combine panels to make things more compact.
But format 1 was deemed to be wasteful. For example, why waste space with the word “miles”?
Destination Format 2
So a new destination format that I call “format 2” was adopted for newer bike routes. The main difference is that each destination is on its own panel. The destination panels are wider and matched in width. Because the panels are matched in width, some will be wider than necessary and the more panels there are the wider the panels will tend to get. It’s nice that destinations can easily be added or removed if errors are found or the route is extended.
What we didn’t anticipate was that the newer sign assemblies would be so much bigger. They’re so big that I’ve started recommending fewer destinations on each sign. If the county adds mile marker numbers or someday route numbers they’ll get even bigger.
I also find format 2 to be, well, ugly. The signs look “sterile” to me, like they’re cells in a spreadsheet. I wouldn’t want to see them on a rustic road.
Destination Format 3
It is possible to have smaller destination panels that are still modular, which is how format 3 does it. It’s sort of hybrid between formats 1 and 2. Text can be wrapped to optimize panel width and keep them all the same width (though I don’t see why they’d have to be the same width). Including the word “miles” seems to make it a little easier to flow the text as desired (you can have “7 miles” on a line by itself but not “7”).
Destination Format 4
Finally, format 4 is a hybrid format where the destination panel is broken into multiple sections rather than panels. This sign was used near Battery Lane in Bethesda:
What do you think? I’d like new signs to use the older format (format 1) or maybe one of the hybrid formats (3 or 4). I’d also like the consultant drafting the signs to be flexible with text flow to minimize panel size.