Signposting on cycle highways can serve two distinct purposes:
Letting the new users of the cycle highway find their route, as well as be aware of the distance and time they need to reach their target. Clear signposting on crucial decision points contributes to route readability, safety on crossings and comfort. In the readability toolbox you can find strategies, examples and guidelines around signposting and wayfinding.
- Creating awareness of the route and the brand for potential users – people who commute by car or public transport today but could be interested in trying a new mobility product. Browse the readability and wayfinding chapter to learn more about branding strategy and brand awareness.
The ARC-principle refers to the three steps to guide cyclists:
- Announce before the decision point,
- Redirect on the decision point, and
- Confirm after the decision point that the cyclist is on the right track.
By using a direction sign that is well visible in advance (before approaching an intersection or other decision point), users are prepared and do not have to stop to find their way or make surprise maneuvers because they spotted a sign in the last moment. Crossings are often a place of interaction between users, so the cyclist needs to know the direction in advance to be able to signal their intentions and focus on observation of other users.
Confirmation signs after a crossing or intersection might seem redundant, but they:
- improve the general route brand awareness;
- let the users know they are not on the right track when they do not see a confirmation after a crossing; early detection of error enables to correct it fast;
- make the wayfinding system more robust: from time to time signs go missing, are obscured by overgrown vegetation, vandalised or turned in the wrong direction.
Standardise the location and position of the signs. If the signs are always placed with a certain logic: on the same side of the road, preferably in the cycling direction, facing the cyclists, at the same (eye-)height, at the same distance from the road or crossing,... the user quickly learns where to look for them. This makes it possible to ensure the signs are seen by cyclists without making them excessively large. The signs have to face the cyclists and should not be placed parallel to the route. It is not desirable that cyclists need to move their head to see it (safety, speed consistence etc.). This also dramatically reduces the reading time while driving. Signs that face you maximise the reading time when the are placed alongside your cycling direction.
Size of the letters. To make the signposts readable while driving, it is not enough that they face the cyclist. The size of the letters determines the reading time. When you drive 18 km an hour, you have 3 seconds to read a word with a font size of 60 millimeters.
Horizontal markings and signs at eye level work well. Most cyclists often keep their eyes on the road surface in front of them, so signs that are placed too high might be easy to miss. On the other hand, signs placed too low are under risk of being hidden by tall grass in summer or a snow heap in winter.
Regular confirmation. Confirmation is not only an essential part of the ARC principle, it is also useful when the route goes a long distance straight ahead with no decision points like crossings. Without confirmation signs from time to time, cyclists can feel insecure and have doubts whether they have chosen the correct direction at the last decision point. Providing more confirmation than strictly needed may also help to improve branding and exposure.
High contrasting colours are important (f.i. red/black and white). A white border makes the sign easier to distinguish from the background for colour-blind people (e.g. F261 CHIPS pilot).
More specific recommendations and examples can be found in the readability toolbox.
Signposts that are not positioned in the driving direction of the cyclists. In this way cyclists cannot process the information of the signpost while they are cycling. They need to cycle slower towards the signpost and bend their head or stop in order to be able to read the sign. This unpredictable behavior also affects the comfort of other cyclists.
Signposts higher than 200 cm, outside the natural sight of the cyclists. In the CHIPS pilots F3 and F261 the signs are placed around 150 cm above the ground.
Signs that are only visible on the crossing itself and not when you approach it. Cyclists need to know the direction in advance to be able to prepare and signal their intentions (see the ARC-principle).
Avoid confusion between a signpost towards a destination nearby a cycle highway and a signpost that helps users to follow the cycle highway. Use the readability toolbox to find out solutions.
Using small letters that are only readable when you stop or cycle much slower. Use the readability toolbox to find out more information.
Different destinations on the same route on subsequent signs. If the users first see that they are cycling towards A, and before they reach A, signs start directing towards B, they might be uncertain whether they are following the right route.
Same destination and/or route identification on signs pointing out in different directions.
Forgetting greenery when applying the signs. Particularly common if the new signposting was implemented outside vegetation season.
Complicated logos. Something might look great at half meter distance, but will it be distinctive enough when seen as a part of 30 cm high sign from the distance of 25 m?
Use the filter "trial & error" in the readability toolbox to find more mistakes to avoid.