Opinion: The lunacy of the ‘cyclists dismount’ sign

“The ‘Cyclists dismount’ sign is the infallible mark of a faulty cycle route. No-one wants to get off and walk. Either the sign will be disobeyed, or the route will simply not be used. If a route cannot be done without these signs, it should not be done at all.”      

London UK Cycling Design Standards Guiding Principals.  –   Chapter 1 – Design requirements

Our shiny new Dougall Tunnel was a very long time coming, but its completion has solved a thorny and dangerous problem for all road users travelling along Dougall Avenue.  It’s a remarkable achievement, providing a safe route for all but the most timid of cyclists.  But it isn’t perfect.  One major issue is that it’s littered with “cyclists dismount” signs. 

Cyclist dismount sign on Dougall Ave trail

We understand the difficulty of developing a multi-use trail that crosses numerous expressway ramps while still ensuring the safety of all users, but instructing cyclists to stop, get off their bikes, and walk, is not the answer.

The Ontario Traffic Manual, Book 18 – Cycling Facilities. Section 4.4.1.2 agrees that these counter-intuitive signs should be actively avoided and only used in the most exceptional of circumstances:

The option of asking cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes should not be relied upon in lieu of adequately accommodating cyclists through appropriate road design. Being propelled by muscular power, cyclists more than any other vehicle operators will prefer to sustain their momentum and avoid stopping. Cyclists usually find it difficult to rationalize why “dismount and walk” restrictions are in place, and conclude that they were a poor, illogical or arbitrary decision. Thus, if facility designs cause cyclists to make what they consider to be unnecessary stops, this will increase the likelihood that they will ignore or disobey traffic controls. Consequently, the Dismount and Walk sign Rb-70 (OTM), shown in Figure 4.93 should be used only in exceptional cases, such as where an in-boulevard facility ends, and cyclists would discharge into a sidewalk or pedestrian zone.” 

In our opinion, these signs should be removed and replaced with the signage and on-road paint recommended in Book 18, the Provincial cycling facility design bible – a crosswalk/ride on the pavement and ‘watch for turning vehicles’ signs.  

 

OTM Book 18 – Figure 4.103 – Mixed Pedestrian and Cyclist Crossride (Unsignalized Example)

 

Jennifer Escott
jescott100@gmail.com
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