The National Academies

NCHRP 20-07/Task 350 [Final]

U.S. Bicycle Route Guide Signing
[ NCHRP 20-07 (Research for AASHTO Standing Committee on Highways) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $49,992
Research Agency: Sprinkle Consulting, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Theo Petritsch
Effective Date: 1/2/2014
Completion Date: 10/15/2014

The objective of this project was to evaluate the signing needed for effective wayfinding and consistency on co-designated numbered and/or named bicycle routes, specifically U.S. Bicycle Routes, recognizing funding and resource constraints. The final report provides recommendations for an effective method for integrating existing named and numbered routes and trails into a national route system.
The final report has been submitted to the AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Traffic Engineering, primarily for their consideration in recommending updates to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Since this topic is of interest to many transportation agencies and other organizations, the contractor's final report, including a review of U.S. and international practice, is available at the link below.

With the increasing number of designated segments of the U.S. Bicycle Route System approved by AASHTO, there will be projects to add guide signing to these new route segments.   Numbered route signs are a very useful aid for navigation for bicyclists and inform cyclists they are traveling on a national network. At the same time, state and local agencies responsible for signs are facing very tight budgets and need to make the most effective use of their limited funds.
At times, distinct bicycle routes are co-designated (e.g. U.S. Bicycle Route 45 and the Mississippi River Trail) The concern is that currently available funding for signing of U.S. Bicycle Routes is often not adequate to provide full co-designation of shared routes at every location. Agencies could provide full signing only along a limited length of route, or conversely could provide limited signing along an entire route - but there is currently no useful technical guidance that agencies can use to help prioritize their signing resources for these bicycle routes.
Research is needed to determine an appropriate level of signing on U.S. Bicycle Routes within limited funding resources, to allow states to effectively and efficiently co-designate routes with signs serving both local users and long-distance travelers. It should be noted that there do not seem to be any significant safety-related impacts associated with this proposal.
Literature Search Summary:
There are a number of references from the U.S., Canada, Europe and elsewhere that discuss the means and methods of providing bicycle wayfinding. However, none of these references have specifically analyzed co-designation and co-signing. EuroVelo, a trans-continental bicycle route network being promoted by the European Cyclists Federation, with financial support from the European Parliament, integrates named and numbered long-distance routes. This system could provide useful information for the U.S. system.

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