As you bike about town, you may have noticed signs that say things like “bikeway” or “bike route.” More often than not, I find them on streets that I generally try to avoid when bicycling. I’ve seen these signs on N. Shields (where the “bike lane” is also the parking lane), Laporte Avenue (where the bike lane seems to come and go), and E. Drake (where there’s no bike lane, no shoulder, and no sharrows). As far as I can tell, these signs are an example of the City’s wishful thinking once upon a time. But some all new signs are coming to town, and they’re a part of a larger plan to make bicycling more comfortable for the average cyclist.
I wrote recently about the new bike map that came out this year. It focuses on a “low stress network” of routes throughout Fort Collins (and a bit beyond). But because some of these low stress routes are made up of a series of different streets, it can sometimes be hard to tell if you’re still on the route, or if you missed a turn somewhere along the way. With that in mind, the new regional wayfinding signs will help riders know where they’re at, and how far away they are from where they might be heading.
There are several different kinds of signs. The decision sign, above, shows that you’re currently on the Remington low stress route. (That doesn’t mean that you’ll be on Remington street the whole way, just that Remington is a key street along that route.) You’re crossing the Swallow route. You’re only a short way from the Spring Creek Trail. And you’re about 5 minutes from Old Town. (… Hmmm, that last arrow seems to imply that you need to turn onto the Swallow bikeway to get to Old Town. I hope that’s just a boo boo, because I suspect you’d want to stay straight on the Remington bikeway if Old Town is your destination.)
The confirmation sign would be used along a trail to direct you when there are turns required to stay on the trail. And the supplemental sign would indicate that you’re close to a another route.
There are also plans to have simple images that fit with the other wayfinding signs, but that can be added to regular street signs to give added confirmation that you’re on the right route.
The signs above were all taken from a stakeholders group meeting and are indicative of what we’ll be seeing along the routes, but it’s quite possible that adjustments will be made before the signs are finally unveiled. We’ll hopefully see the first batch of signs installed along the Remington low stress route some time this winter.
A city-wide network of these low stress routes has been identified and eventually each will come with its own regional wayfinding signs. There are still some gaps in a few of these routes, and those are on a priority list to be improved as funds allow. (Often these bicycle projects are inserted into other infrastructure projects that are taking place. This enables the most economical use of resources, which hopefully will lead to more improvements being made overall.)
I have heard local residents make statements that they tried bicycling, but it didn’t work because the route between their start and end points was just too dangerous. This is often because, when we’re first starting out as bicycling commuters, we stick to the roads we know, which are the same streets we drive on. But when you’re on a bike, an alternate (often parallel) route would be a lot safer to use. You just have to know it’s there. Hopefully between the bike map and the regional wayfinding signs, it will be easier than ever to find a safe, comfortable route through town.
The low stress network map came from the FC Bikes page on the Bicycle Wayfinding System Plan. The sign images came from a stakeholders meeting work sheet.
From the Colorado Bicycling Manual: Glossary of Terms
BIKE ROUTE A system of bikeways designating preferred routes for bicycle use by signing with appropriate directional and informational route markers.
BIKEWAY A generic term for any road, street, path, or way which, in some manner, is designated as being available for bicycle travel, regardless of whether such facilities are designated for the exclusive use of bicycles or are to be shared with other transportation modes.
I agree there is often a safer, more pleasant route to get where you’re going and I hope this helps people find those routes, and thus bike more. One glaring omission in current signage is what streets bike paths cross. On the Mason Trail… “did I just pass Drake? Swallow? Horsetooth?” It’s not clear, which lends to my impression that the paths are designed more for recreation than utility.
I need to look into the Mason trail more, but I think it’s an odd hybrid trail and I’m not sure who manages it. The parks department manages the bike trails (multi-use trails) and I do think they need to update and enlarge their signage. And because most bike trails don’t pass by the usual street signs, they really should add some cross signage like you suggest.
Hopefully as the FC Bikes builds out its signage along the low stress routes, Parks will take the hint and follow suit on the trails. … but the next time I’m at a Transportation Board meeting, maybe I’ll ask about that to see if they’ve heard of any movement in that direction.