Almost knowing where we are

It is hard to persuade some parts of the city bureaucracy that there are people other than motorists, and that non-automobile transportation is real.

I’ve ranted here before that people on cycle paths or multi-user paths (MUPs) are expected to have some sort of geographical omniscience. Meanwhile the city’s sign department insists that streets that intersect with pathways cannot be given street signs. Only motorists are permitted to have city-provided waysignage. The others … get lost.

When the Trillium MUP appeared a few years ago, some “sort of” street signs appeared. They were on the city’s streetsign blanks, but were a mixture of destination signs and direction signs and nearby street names. And mounted on those inexpensive T-bar posts that can be easily pushed off-angle or pretzelled, rather than real round street sign posts set in cement.

So imagine my surprise and delight to find the phase 2 Trillium path, where paved connections were finally provided to the stub end streets all along it, actually got street signs too. This one is attached to a ped lamp post, others are visible in the distance. Very nice:

Not all were attached to ped lamps. Here’s one making use of a elderly wooden pole:

At first the signs look like official street signs …

but something is a little bit off …

If we go a few houses down Norman Street to Preston, the difference becomes apparent:

The font is different, the useful address indicators are only on one type of sign.

Why the different fonts? Is it because the cycle path ones “aren’t real signs for real transportation”? Or is there some subtle indicator supposed to be conveyed that says the bold named signs are for motorists but the thin fonts are for cyclists and pedestrians?

Here’s a hybrid “street name” and direction sign at the new car-free bridge between Hickory and Adeline:

It remains apparent to me that we haven’t yet adopted an international sign convention (or even one of our devising) for identifying cycle and pedestrian facilities. As a result we have a mishmash of signs and styles and inconsistent use. But we are making progress. Signs of the times, as it is.

One of the reasons signs for motorists have street numbers on them is to facilitate 911 calls. Alas, we haven’t yet got the point where cyclists or pedestrians are extended¬†geoidentification signage. Other cities do. Here is a sign plate, embedded in the path pavement, from the West Orange Trail that gives an “address” and a mileage indicator. These were put down every 1/10th of a mile.

These embedded markers won’t work in Ottawa, due to snow, plowing, and frost heave. Here’s a handsome four-season granite signpost on the Cape Code Rail Trail:

My preference for the moment would be to put an address sticker on every ped light post. The numbering could be concordant with the adjacent street, eg 340 Preston might be at one end of Norman and 340 Trillium Pathway at the next block. Or linearly running from a start point on the path, eg Km 8.5. Last time I mentioned it, the folks at the city were blown away, absolutely horrified,  at the thought of all the effort to assign addresses to all those light posts. The Expense ! The Horror !

Yet our electrical utility often assigns yellow number plates to utility poles, to facilitate finding their location via computer and digital maps. Traffic signal posts often bear identifier numbers. Every stop sign had a number on the back. And every $60 chair at city offices has an inventory tracking number. And the city somehow manages to find the time, money, and interest in tagging every single fire hydrant.

And did you know that every single green bin in everyone’s driveway is uniquely numbered and linked to your house address? Yup, every bin.

But for the safety and convenience of people or walk or cycle …

At this point in the spring cycling season, I give thanks for the signs we got and offer prayers for the next improvement.

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