In an apparent admission that cycle route signs showing distances in miles are not meaningful to cyclists, the Department for Transport is proposing to allow authorities the option of using signs that show journey times in hrs and mins instead of distances in miles and fractions of miles.
The proposal follows a precedent set by the Legible London project in 2008, which is pioneering the use of minutes walk to show distances on pedestrian wayfinding signs.
The new cycle route sign will be optional, which means that across the entire National Cycle Network, directional signage will become an incoherent mix of miles and minutes.
To further confuse matters, on cycle routes that are used by pedestrians, signs showing cycle journey times will be required to show pedestrian journey times too.
Traffic Signs Policy Review
The Traffic Signs Policy Review, which was announced in September 2008, was intended to address issues of sign clutter and the understanding of road signs, so it is quite unbelievable that one of the first signs to be produced by the review has apparently been so poorly thought out.
Many factors contribute to produce large variations in cycle journey times, including the fitness of the cyclist, the inclination of the terrain, the weather, and the quality of the bicycle, all of which make the use of any estimated journey time quite useless as a real indication of how far away a destination is.
The use of imprecise journey times is not what people expect to see on directional signage. In response, the UK Metric Association is proposing the following sign for the purpose of upgrading all cycle route direction signs. It is based on the current sign, but shows distances in kilometres, to one decimal place for shorter distances. Ideally, it should be introduced as part of a planned programme of conversion of all traffic signs to standard metric units.
Signs in kilometres will complement the use of existing Ordnance Survey maps, which have used a kilometre grid since the 1940s. They will also be useful to cycling enthusiasts and road racers who generally use kilometres. Signs using the standard km symbol will not require bilingual translation in Wales, unlike the proposed new hrs and mins signs.
The DfT continues to rule out any consideration of using standard metric units on traffic signs, even though Government policy since 1965 has been to gradually move towards the metric system of measurement for all official purposes.
You can comment on the new signs and other proposed amendments to traffic signs regulations in the DfT consultation, details of which can be found at the following link.
Details of the Traffic Signs Policy Review can be found at the following link.
You can apply to join the Traffic Signs Policy Review sounding board, or comment directly using the following e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org
UKMA’s submission to the Traffic Signs Policy Review included the production of a leaflet Traffic Signs 2.0 which can be downloaded by clicking on this link. Alternatively, free printed copies can be obtained by e-mailing email@example.com