Do pedestrians and bicyclists have the same wayfinding needs?

Bicycle destination signs are installed at decision points (i.e. where one signed route intersects another) on Chicago's signed route network. This consolidated signage array provides the "three D's"—direction, destination and distance—and has been recommended for inclusion in the next edition of the MUTCD.

Image: Chicago DOT

Wayfinding information helps people orient and navigate. A state-of-the-art wayfinding system for walkers and bicyclists will consider types of signs, information given, route numbering systems, methods of determining need, location, height and aesthetics of signs, and costs for planning, installation, and maintenance.

This bicycle route guide sign in Chicago consolidates destination and route name information directly onto the main sign panel and is installed at regular intervals or after turns along an individual route to provide route confirmation to cyclists. The arrow plaque is provided to indicate an upcoming turn in the route.

Image: Chicago DOT

Bicyclists and pedestrians rely on many of the same visual clues roadway planners provide to motorists. Placement is important. Historic markers and unified directional information (city hall, library, park, etc.) need to be as visible to pedestrians and bicyclists as they are to motorists. Cities like Chicago and Seattle have introduced comprehensive bicycle route signage. While on-street signage may be very effective for bicyclists using the roadway, it may not be visible to pedestrians.

Wayfinding on shared use paths includes clearly marking cross streets and providing kiosks with map displays and community information including the location of restaurants, restrooms, and bike shops.

Tourist-oriented wayfinding for pedestrians like the Boston Freedom Trail often includes trail-blazer logos with historic information or even pavement markings akin to the proverbial "yellow brick road." Carson City, NV marks its "Kit Carson Trail," a 2.5-mile historic walking tour through the city past schools and the Governor's mansion with a six-inch wide, blue skid-resistant surface line. Now residents and visitors alike simply refer to the route as "the Blue Line." Good markings and good maps work together to encourage use.