Design and Build How to improve readability?

  1. Plan
  2. Design and Build
  3. Sell
  4. Evaluate

Improving the two aspects of readability

As we explained in the clarification of the concept of readability, we have to be careful not to downsize the concept of readability to a specific type of cycling infrastructure or a wayfinding system that exposes the cycle highway brand to the (potential) users. In order to improve readability, both aspects are important.

Readability also entails a more general awareness or knowledge of the cycle highway mobility product. This brand awareness is not only influenced by integrating the brand in touchpoints along the cycling infrastructure, it is also stengthened by the exposure of the brand in diverse (online) touchpoints: websites, social media, online route planning devices like Google Maps,... This exposure is important in the selling phase.

The two aspects of readability.

If you want to maximise the readability in the design and build fase, it is important to opt for the best combination of both aspects of readability. 

The infrastructural aspect of readability can be improved when you design your cycle highway with central elements that ideally can be recognized from the starting point till the end of the route (see examples below and the criterium coherence in the maturity assessment tool).

The awareness aspect of readability can be achieved when you:

  1. establish a strong network-brand (c-numbers, central brand colour, a code-logo strategy,...)
  2. opt for a consequent integration of the brand in wayfinding measures
  3. enhance exposure on strategic touchpoints (stategic landmarks, digital touchpoints,...)

Browse the readability toolbox to learn more about the three steps to improve readability.

Improving infrastructural readability

There are different strategies to make the cycle highway infrastructure more self-explaining:

  • A consequent use of red asphalt along the whole route makes the cycling infrastructure recognizable and easy to follow (f.i. Rijnwaalpad, F261,...). 

  • For the first generation cycle superhighways in London, the design opted for a consequent blue colour on the asphalt. Confusion might rise with the pink brand colour of the cycle superhighways. This confusion can be avoided by following a more consistent colour strategy.   
  • Infrastructural elements like  horizontal markings (median or edge markings), bollards, resting places, lighting (e.g. Rijnwaalpad)... can also be used to improve the infrastructural aspect of readability. 
  • In the feasibility study of theRS1 cycle highway, you can find inspiring concepts (in blue) to improve the infrastructural readability on crossings. 
  • On the new F261 cycle highway infrastructure between Tilburg and Waalwijk you will find experiments with a continuous green line along the route. If this strategy is applied from the main starting point at Tilburg station till the end point in Waalwijk, the infrastructure will be self-explaining from A to B. Brand awareness can be improved if this green colour strategy also corresponds with the central brand colour for the cycle highway network. This is however not the case for the F261. 
  • The consequent orange colour strategy in the region of Copenhagen is a best practice. The orange colour of the cycle highway brand is consequently used on the cycling infrastructure (e.g. resting point at crossings). There was a successful experiment in Copenhagen with an orange edge marking (line) that refers to the central brand colour of the cycle highways or orange colour strategy.
  • On the Rijnwaalpad cycle highway between Arhnem and Nijmegen, a consequent design of the high quality cycling infrastructure (in red asphalt) is combined with specific design of the lighting. The integration of the chain-logo of the Rijnwaalpad in the lighting improves the infrastructural readability of the cycling infrastructure. This strategy however is not implemented along the whole route from the main starting point till the end.
  • The F8 cycle highway between Leuven and Mechelen has a very readable route alignment. The whole route follows the waterway between Leuven en Mechelen. Only the connection to Leuven station is less readable because of the mixture of infrastructure and the absence of the canal. The F1 cycle highway from Brussels to Antwerp follows respectively waterways (the canal and the river Zenne) and railways (from Zemst to Antwerp). These two landscape elements make the F1 easy readable and explainable.

The examples above show the importance of route alignment and returning design elements that make the cycle highway infrastructure more self-explaining. But these readability elements are not enough. Even high quality cycling infrastructure with a consequent design needs, just like the well known motorways, an extra identity layer (a logo, an code, a central brand colour etc.). This identity layer helps to disclose the infrastructure as an attractive mobility product that can be easily used and promoted on the mobility market.

The most optimal combination (++) is a cycle highway with a good infrastructural readability combined with awareness raising elements. If your cycle highway consist of a mixture of infrastructure (f.i F3 cycle highway), you need more readability tools to glue the different pieces togehter into a route that can be used and promoted on the mobility market (-+). In both positions (++ and -+) it is important to integrate the network-brand in the different readability tools. CHIPS recommends to use one central brand colour for the network and a code with a letter+number combination: preferably C-numbers on a European scale. Browse the readability toolbox to learn more about CHIPS' identity-principles and the strategies to improve the readability of your cycle highway.

Improving brand awareness and wayfinding

Browse the readability toolbox to learn more about the three steps to improve the awareness aspect of readability:  


First generation cycle highway routes often contain a mix of infrastructure. Investing in signposts and horizontal markings can help to improve wayfinding along the route and enhance brand exposure. Filter the CHIPS recommended strategies in the readability toolbox and learn from the examples and experiences in the different regions.

Things you can find in the readability toolbox:

  • A lexicon or framework (playlists) to structure the central wayfinding discussions
  • CHIPS' recommended branding-principles: c-codes, code-logo strategy (Flanders, Copenhagen, Brussels) 
  • ARC-principle for wayfinding measures 
  • Inspiring examples and best practices: e.g. metrolines or totems, concepts for strategic exposure,...
  • Diverse wayfinding measures (strategies and examples) from different regions (Flanders, Copenhagen, Noord-Brabant, London,...)
  • Mistakes to avoid (use the filter trial and error)

Specific recommendations for signposting can also be found in the chapter about infrastructure, see: signposting.

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