Cambridge cyclists call for wording on signs to be made more polite

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

by Simon_MacMichael   November 10, 2011  

Cyclists Dismount sign

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.”

26 user comments

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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 Smile It's as if they don't trust us to use the big scary road with the other cars.....

posted by bassjunkieuk [31 posts]
10th November 2011 - 12:50

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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 Devil

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posted by Gkam84 [8685 posts]
10th November 2011 - 13:13

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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'.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
10th November 2011 - 13:15

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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.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [354 posts]
10th November 2011 - 13:34

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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.

posted by automatic_jon [68 posts]
10th November 2011 - 14:07

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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.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
10th November 2011 - 14:52

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*Sgt Wilson out of Dad's Army voice*

"Would you mind awfully...?"

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7910 posts]
10th November 2011 - 15:07

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"Cyclists: Please consider dismounting"

posted by David Portland [88 posts]
10th November 2011 - 15:08

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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....

If that ride is important to you, you'll find a way to get it in!

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posted by road slapper [91 posts]
10th November 2011 - 15:11

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"Do you think that's wise?"

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
10th November 2011 - 15:17

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And how much did all those mostly-pointless conflict-causing advisory signs cost?

posted by a.jumper [681 posts]
10th November 2011 - 15:49

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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.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1331 posts]
10th November 2011 - 16:38

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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.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
10th November 2011 - 16:50

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Personally I avoid any route that has a blue sign for the sake of my own sanity Big Grin

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posted by giff77 [1036 posts]
10th November 2011 - 17:08

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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.

posted by thereverent [296 posts]
10th November 2011 - 17:46

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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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posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
10th November 2011 - 18:05

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advisory - didn't know that

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
10th November 2011 - 22:30

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When I see one of these, all I think is - "not if they can help it!"

posted by mad_scot_rider [537 posts]
10th November 2011 - 22:30

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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.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [358 posts]
10th November 2011 - 22:31

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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....

posted by don_don [149 posts]
11th November 2011 - 11:28

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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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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7910 posts]
11th November 2011 - 11:43

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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

Ticktock

posted by Michael5 [121 posts]
11th November 2011 - 21:09

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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.

StevieG

posted by stevengoodfellow [38 posts]
11th November 2011 - 23:11

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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' Smile

posted by AnalogueAndy [24 posts]
14th November 2011 - 11:11

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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' Smile

http://alt-transportbristol.gn.apc.org/tbc/2001/winter/bridge.html

posted by AnalogueAndy [24 posts]
14th November 2011 - 11:19

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Thanks AnalogueAndy! Great name btw

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
14th November 2011 - 13:07

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