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 are confronted with intersections. How does a cyclist know that he or she has to cycle straight forward on a crossing? On these kind of decision points specific guidance is needed to help the cyclist in the right direction.
Self-explaining cycle highways ideally have a clear route-alignment and self-explaining infrastructure that limits the number of decision points and wayfinding tools. But cycle highways are also the backbone of the local cycle network and need to have intersections to improve the connections. On these intersections the cyclist needs tools to help him or her take the right decision.
The CHIPS consortium recommends to apply the ARC-wayfinding principle on important decision points like a change of direction or a crossing. By applying this principle consequently in both situations, you provide a consequent uniformity for the user. The ARC-principle consists of three steps:
- Announce before the intersection the decision the cyclist needs to take. This can be done 50 meters before the decision point (see f.i. readability tools in Flanders). By using a direction sign that is well visible in advance (before approaching an intersection), 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.
- (Re)direct on the decision point. This wayfinding tool helps the cyclist to take the right decision (f.i. take the crossing straight forward). This second step is crucial when there is a change of direction, but it is also helpful when you have to cycle straight forward on a crossing. Without the announcement before (step 1), a new cyclist will need more time and effort to assess the situation and the chance for errors will increase. The first step improves the efficiency of the second step.
- Confirm after the decision point that the cyclist is right. This is at the same time an error strategy.
Confirmation signs after a crossing or intersection might seem redundant, but this confirmation improves the general route identification and can also be part of an error strategy. You know you are wrong when you don't get a confirmation and this early detection of an error enables you to correct fast. Redundancy in signposting is also good for another reason. Users need to get in touch with the identity/brand. Redundancy improves the route identification and makes the wayfinding system more robust. From time to time signs go missing, are obscured by overgrown vegetation, vandalized or turned in the wrong direction.
Browse the toolbox for specific examples of the ARC-principle in Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands...
Comparing ARC-principle for crossings in Flanders and region of Copenhagen:
- Flanders: A,R, C - Copenhagen: no A, only R and C
- Flanders: signpost for A & R, logo marking on the pavement for C
- Copenhagen: sometimes only smaller markings on the ground (R: arrow, C: logo)
- Flanders: cycle highway code (F-number), destination and distances on the signposts A & R
- Copenhagen: no cycle highway code (C-number), nor destination and distances (see slides)
- The principle is based on best practices and lessons learned from Belgium, Danmark and the Netherlands. The principle is used on the F3 pilot and suveys show a high statisfaction.
- Surveys show that the announcement step before the decision point helps safe and smooth decision making on the crossings. Most cyclists prefer to have information before the decision point.
- The confirmation step provides an error strategy and improves at the same time route identification.
- Robust system that can keep on functioning when one of the elements is missing.
- The principle improves the safety and predictability on the cycle highway.
- The 3 steps have the implication that more tools are used with a higher (maintanance) cost.