Tools Readability Lexicon

The readability toolbox provides a shared framework to improve the readability and wayfinding on your cycle highway. The different readability measures that you will find in the toolbox are organised in ten categories or playlists. In this lexicon, we explain these central playlists. 



1. Identity Playlist

When a new child is born, the first step is to give it a name that will be used on the birth certificate and the birth cards you send out to the world to announce the news. The identity playlist provides tools to help you in this identity giving exercise. How will you name and brand your cycle highway? How will you give it a concrete visual identity (code, logo, central brand colour....)? And is your branding strategy future-proof? 

The identity playlist is the most fundamental playlist in the readability toolbox. It provides tools to help you create an identity and brand for you cycle highway.  It is important to apply the identity or brand in every single touchpoint  – on all wayfinding measures in the streets (e.g. signposts), in communication, in online maps…  In this way the brand becomes a ‘glue’ that not only connects different types of infrastructures on a cycle highway, but also helps to link the ‘real world’ to online information and to a much broader cycle highway network.

Browse Identity Playlist 


2. Entrance Playlist

How do you recognize the entrance of a cycle highway? And how do you know you just left the cycle highway space through the exit door? 

The playlist entrances and exits belongs to the set of playlists around improving the (offline) wayfinding in the vicinity of the cycle highway infrastructure. Other playlists in this wayfinding set deal with crossings, change of direction, confusion points, orientation and route identification.  

Browse Entrance Playlist


3. Crossings

Once you enter a cycle highway you know you just have to cycle straight forward. But when you arrive on an intersection you need to know for sure that you still have to go straight forward. And not in the other directions. The playlist crossings presents a set of tools to deal with this type of decision points. Browse the playlist to learn more about the CHIPS recommended ARC-principle and find inspiring examples.

Browse Crossings Playlist


4. Change of direction

Once you enter a cycle highway you know you just have to cycle straight forward.  A cycle highway route however is not always a straight and self-explaining line of infrastructure between A and B. At certain points cycling straight forward means leaving the cycle highway you are following. And sometimes you see two or more equivalent options and you really need to make a choice. On these decision points specific guidance is needed to help you in the right direction. The playlist change of direction presents wayfinding tools to deal with this challenge. Browse the playlist to learn more about the CHIPS recommended ARC-principle and find inspiring examples.

Browse Change of direction Playlist


5. Confusion points

Once you enter a cycle highway you know you just have to cycle straight forward. But sometimes users might find it more difficult to see what cycling straight forward exactly means. And because they know that cycle highways are not always perfect and sometimes contain a change of direction, they might be confused when they see an adjacent path in a similar direction. This confusion can be amplified when the adjacant path presents more appealing cycling infrastructure. How do you now that cycling straight forward means not following the more appealing cycling infrastructure? The playlist confusion points presents a set of tools to remove these kind of uncertainties.

Browse Confusion points Playlist


6. Orientation (offline)

At certain points on the cycle highway you sometimes want to know where you are in relation to your personal destination. Without unlocking the screen of your smartphone, that might be lost somewhere deep in your bag with a flat battery. The playlist orientation presents easy offline tools that help a (potential) user to quickly see:

- he or she may use the cycle highway to reach certain destinations;
- ...where he or she is at a certain moment;
- far the most important destionations are.

Orientation tools can help to expand the mental map of (potential) users by bringing them in touch with the destinations that can easily be reached with the cycle highway. Some users might be triggered to do further research on their smartphone and might even share this information to other potential users. 

Browse Orientation Playlist


7. Route identification (error strategy)

Once you enter a cycle highway you know you need to cycle straight forward.  But how do you now for sure you ended up on the (right) cycle highway? How do you recognize a cycle highway? How do you know that you didn't make an error in the wayfinding process?

Route identification tools disclose the cycling infrastructure you are using as a specific cycle highway connection (f.i. C3 cycle highway Leuven-Brussels). Route identification can also provide confirmation after important decision points (see ARC-principle). A cyclist needs also confirmation in the case the route goes a long distance straight ahead without decision points. Providing more confirmation than strictly needed may also help to improve branding and exposure and can be part of an error strategy. When you don't have confirmation, you know you made an error that you need to correct. Some wayfinding systems also indicate errors by pointing out that you just left the right path (f.i. GR-long distance hiking routes).  

Browse Route identification Playlist


8. Digital Wayfinding

The playlist digital wayfinding presents tools that are both directed towards users of the cycle highway and potential users that are unfamiliar with this mobility product. Strategies that integrate the cycle highway product in digital touchpoints like f.i. online maps, apps or routeplanning devices enable you to raise the awareness of the cycle highway product  and improve digital wayfinding for cycle highway users. 

Browse Digital Wayfinding Playlist


9. Exposure Playlist

The playlist exposure is not in the first place directed to users who are already familiar with the cycle highway or who are following it for the first time. It presents a set of marketing tools to display the cycle highway product in the mobility market. By integrating the cycle highway brand in diverse touchpoints, you are able to attract the attention of potential users and passerby. Offline exposure tools aim at raising the brand awareness on strategic touchpoints in the field like a landmark, a cycle bridge, an entrance, a crossing etc. But exposure can also be organized on other touchpoints like social media, accessories, folders, recreational maps, traffic news on the radio etc.

Browse Exposure Playlist


10. Services Playlist

Services like a resting point, a hub with airpump, a bike sharing station, an information desk etc. improve the ease of use of a cycle highway and may also be an interesting touchpoint to expose the cycle highway identity to (potential) users. 

Browse Services Playlist

What does readability mean?

For a cycle highway to be readable, it must be: 

- self-explaining. New users need a minimum of time and energy to understand, use and follow the cycle highway in their journeys. The cycle highway can be used and understood by observing it. Doubts and errors during the journey are avoided or easy to recover. The cycle highway is all the way “plug&play.” 

- findable and learnable. The cycle highway is easy to teach, find and remember. The cycle highway differentiates itself clearly from other mobility products and can easily be found in the field, … It is capable to attract the attention of potential users.

As we explain in the chapter around the concept of readality, 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 awareness is not only influenced by integrating the cycle highway brand on touchpoints along the infrastructure, it is also stengthened by the exposure of the brand in diverse (online) touchpoints, like websites, online route planning devices like googlemaps etc. These aspects are important in the selling fase.

The two aspects of readability

Aspect 1: The infrastructural aspect of readability
Readability is stronly linked with the specific route alignment (f.i. along a waterway) and the design of the infrastructure. It’s obvious that a cycle highway is easier to understand and follow if the route is direct, uninterrupted, coherent in design and of a high infrastructural quality (e.g. 4 meters wide, comfortable asphalt all the way, …). The infrastructural readability can be improved by using re-occurring or standardised elements that strengthen the self-explaining character of the infrastructure. E.g. a standardised colour of asphalt, standardised designs of crossings or recognisable cycle highway bridges.

Aspect 2: The awareness aspect of readability
Well planned and designed cycling infrastructure migth be very easy to use and follow. But this infrastructural readability does not mean that its users understand the central idea behind this infrastructure. Without an extra identity layer (see identity playlist) most users will not be aware of the status and utility of the route as a whole. A user might f.i. be using the cycle highway infrastructure for a short trip without even knowing that it's part of longer distance cycling connection between two cities.

An extra layer of meaning is needed to disclose the infrastructure as a mobility product that can be used for certain purposes. This meaning is established by awareness raising elements like a brand, a logo, a name, wayfinding element that expose the identity, promotion campaings, online routeplanning devices etc. These readability tools help potential users to become aware of the difference between a cycle highway and other (similar) cycle infrastructure. In the case of bad infrastructural readability, awareness raising tools can help to glue an amalgam of different types of infrastructure into a more coherent cycle highway that can efficiently be promoted and used.


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