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'Cyclists dismount' sign misleading, discriminatory, and rather rude, say campaigners...

Cycle campaigners in Cambridge have called for “annoying” signs telling riders to get off their bikes in busy areas where they share space with pedestrians to be reworded to make them more polite.

According to the Cambridge News website, members of Cambridge Cycling Campaign (CCC) believe that the words ‘Cyclists Dismount’ that appear on signs throughout the city at locations such as bridges should instead ask them – politely of course – to show be more aware of pedestrians and be more courteous to them.

Instead, says CCC, which has more than 1,000 members, signs could simply ask cyclists to ‘Be nice.’ They also say that other signs in the city centre including those which say ‘Pedestrian Zone – drivers and cyclists consider pedestrians’ are acceptable.

While at first glance the request may seem a bit churlish - some may say cyclists face bigger issues than politenes… even in Cambridge, there are sound reasons behind it, insists CCC, because it says the existing signs give the impression that cyclists are required to get off their bikes when that is not in fact the case.

Moreover, they allege that the signs discriminate against cyclists since there are no equivalent signs telling drivers to ‘get out and push.’

In fact, ‘cyclists dismount’ signs are advisory, rather than compulsory, but they way they are worded can lead to conflict with pedestrians and other road users if cyclists continue to ride after passing the sign, as they are perfectly entitled to do.

The campaigners’ appeal has the support of local MP Dr Julian Huppert, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, who said: “The Cambridge Cycling Campaign has made a very good point here. We need to have signs that are clear and promote consideration for others while at the same time not creating the wrong impression.

“The ‘Cyclist Dismount’ signs give the impression that, if cyclists fail to get off their bikes they are breaking the rules; this is not the case,” he continued.

“Road signs should be clear and easily understood while at the same time giving the correct information. The ‘Pedestrian Zone’ signs fit the bill.”

The cycling campaign has more than 1,000 members and is the biggest lobby group in the city.

Simon Nuttall, CCC’s events officer, said: “In the world of cycling the ‘Cyclists Dismount’ sign is amongst the most annoying.

“There’s no equivalent for motorists suggesting ‘Get out and push’.

“I think what the sign is really trying to say is ‘Cyclists: slow down and take extra care here as there may be pedestrians, children or dogs’.

“The sign itself is ‘advisory and so does not legally require the rider to dismount, but the way the sign works is that even if the cyclist slows right down and takes extra care it looks as though the rider is behaving badly and irresponsibly.

“Instead we need a sign that says ‘Be nice’,” he added.

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman told Cambridge News: “Cambridgeshire has far fewer of this type of signs than many other areas and they are only used where access is very restricted and pedestrians should be given priority.

“However, if the cycling campaign approaches us about changing the signs, we can consider their request on a case by case basis.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

26 comments

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bassjunkieuk [49 posts] 5 years ago
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I do love these "Cyclist dismount" signs. I normally find them in town when roadworks have blocked the (usually pathetic) cycle lane  1 It's as if they don't trust us to use the big scary road with the other cars.....

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Gkam84 [9101 posts] 5 years ago
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Wow you learn something new everyday, i didn't know these signs were only advisory and i thought they were to make use aware that its either unsafe or not allowed to cycle in those area's  19

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Coleman [334 posts] 5 years ago
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I remember seeing a photo of a 'cyclists dismount' sign that had been changed to 'share the road' near roadworks in Shoreditch.

I'm really tempted do something childish like covering the 'dismount' with 'get there quicker' or 'are cool'.

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workhard [396 posts] 5 years ago
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It is an advisory sign. Just ignore it. There's one near me at the top of a flight of stairs. Why shouldn't I ride my bike down some stairs, they are only a short steep bumpy hill after all.

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automatic_jon [68 posts] 5 years ago
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I always assumed they were an information sign reminding drivers that sometimes cyclists get of their bikes and regain their status as human beings.

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JohnS [198 posts] 5 years ago
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Yes, these signs are very definitely advisory, according to the Highway Code. Lack of public knowledge of this has on occasion meant run-ins with dog-emptiers who think Tooting Bec Common in London is their own country estate.

Sometimes they're also ungrammatical - "Cyclist dismount": which cyclist, then? Me or the bloke coming along behind?

How about "Cyclists dismount please"? It'd probably work better.

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Simon_MacMichael [2494 posts] 5 years ago
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*Sgt Wilson out of Dad's Army voice*

"Would you mind awfully...?"

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David Portland [83 posts] 5 years ago
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"Cyclists: Please consider dismounting"

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road slapper [87 posts] 5 years ago
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My Lord, what is this country coming to? The people of Cambridge have obviously got lots of time on their hands and obviously very sensitive. Let me just get onto Boots and ask them to send cotton wool as fast as possible and wrap them all up.

It is an information sign, it advises you to do something, that is all.

They could always get nice pink signs with the wording along the lines of "Pretty please, do you mind awfully getting off your cycle as not to accidently hurt yourself or others, but if you don't want to, that is also fine. Just go carefully!"

A spade is a spade....

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Coleman [334 posts] 5 years ago
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"Do you think that's wise?"

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a.jumper [849 posts] 5 years ago
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And how much did all those mostly-pointless conflict-causing advisory signs cost?

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cat1commuter [1422 posts] 5 years ago
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road slapper wrote:

My Lord, what is this country coming to? The people of Cambridge have obviously got lots of time on their hands and obviously very sensitive. Let me just get onto Boots and ask them to send cotton wool as fast as possible and wrap them all up.

The point is that the sign is massively overused, and doesn't actually say what is meant. In my experience it is used where cyclists may need to look out for particular hazards, but is telling them to dismount where no sane cyclist ever would. There is a gallery of some on the CycleStreets website.

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JohnS [198 posts] 5 years ago
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road slapper wrote:

My Lord, what is this country coming to? The people of Cambridge have obviously got lots of time on their hands and obviously very sensitive.

Possibly. In other parts of the country these signs are used by militant dog-emptiers and other pedestrians as an excuse to bully cyclists off paths they're legally entitled to cycle on, since most people (including cyclists) don't know the signs are advisory.

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giff77 [1266 posts] 5 years ago
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Personally I avoid any route that has a blue sign for the sake of my own sanity  4

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thereverent [443 posts] 5 years ago
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No idea how an advisory sign that sounds like an order made it through whatever committees pass road signs.
They are badly used near roadworks and misundersod by pedestrians.

A 'Pedestrian priority – considerate cycling welcomed' sign as used now on the South Bank would be better, or the 'Shared Use Path' round blue one.

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dave atkinson [6304 posts] 5 years ago
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cat1commuter wrote:

The point is that the sign is massively overused, and doesn't actually say what is meant. In my experience it is used where cyclists may need to look out for particular hazards, but is telling them to dismount where no sane cyclist ever would.

This is the classic example, of course:

fromt the excellent WCC site

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pete.meg/wcc/facility-of-the-month/Septembe...

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OldRidgeback [2776 posts] 5 years ago
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advisory - didn't know that

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 5 years ago
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When I see one of these, all I think is - "not if they can help it!"

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monty dog [463 posts] 5 years ago
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I have the Basingstoke Canal towpath at the end of my road which I use regularly as a means to get into the open countryside on my CX bike. There are a number of bridges over the canal which I have to pass under - all of which have the obligatory Cyclist Dismount signs, at which I courteously slow-down and take a peak whilst proceeding with caution. However, the number of times I've encountered deliberately obstructive peds in the mistaken impression they I have to give way, reinforced no doubt by these odious signs. Luckily, once I get about a quarter-mile from any car park I can generally proceed safely as the particularly obstructive ones don't seem to be able to waddle that far.

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don_don [149 posts] 5 years ago
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I like to think that the site in that WCC photo was done by an engineer with a sense of humour!

Then again....

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Simon_MacMichael [2494 posts] 5 years ago
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Wonder if anyone's done a film showing a cyclist actually following the advice of all those signs and jumping on and off the bike just to show how absurd and ill-thought out it is?

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Michael5 [121 posts] 5 years ago
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Wonder how many readers 'didn't realise' red lights are compulsory for cyclists too... and that riding on the pavement with wheels bigger than 14in is also an offence.

Seems car drivers aren't the only ones who don't know the rules of the road. http://road.cc/sites/all/modules/smileys/packs/Yahoo!/grin.gif

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stevengoodfellow [59 posts] 5 years ago
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Why not a sign that simply says "Give way to Pedestrians", it doesn't even need to be addressed to cyclists.
By the way Ticktock, size isn't important.

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AnalogueAndy [30 posts] 5 years ago
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A few years ago Bristol Cycling Campaign produced a perfectly sized 'WELCOME' sticker to replace the 'DISMOUNT' bit, hence all the 'CYCLISTS DISMOUNT' signs were overnight amended to read 'CYCLISTS WELCOME'  1

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AnalogueAndy [30 posts] 5 years ago
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In fact I've found the report that led to the 'stickering' in the first place. A bit of a saga but in the end the signs became 'CYCLE WITH CARE', far nicer (and more appropriate) than 'CYCLISTS DISMOUNT'  1http://alt-transportbristol.gn.apc.org/tbc/2001/winter/bridge.html

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Tony Farrelly [2896 posts] 5 years ago
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Thanks AnalogueAndy! Great name btw