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Mobility and Transport


Signage and wayfinding measures support cycling by providing informing on objective or subjective optimal routes for any trip purpose. They can increase the level of awareness for cycling and support a positive cycling culture in a city. People who cycle can directly benefit of the relevant guidance in terms of trip length, duration and comfort.

Considerations for applicability

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Level of cycling

Signage and wayfinding can be beneficial in cities with both low and high levels of cycling. Where low levels are experienced, the measure can help raise awareness and encourage uptake of cycling. Where little infrastructure is available, navigation software may be more appropriate.

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Urban layout/topography

Signage and wayfinding may be useful in cities with particularly hilly terrain or other access-affecting urban layout issues/features which would benefit from making clear alternative routes for people who cycle.

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Signage/wayfinding is likely to be beneficial in cities considered to be a tourist destination in order to ensure that visitors to the city are able to successfully navigate the city by bicycle.

This will also benefit people who occasionally or regularly cycle who are unfamiliar with parts of the cycle network, the whole network, or the most appropriate routes for bicycles (including students and other population groups).

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Finance Resources

Costs associated with the development and provision of a comprehensive signage network within a city will vary depending on the size of city and style of signage/materials used. Funding associated with maintenance of route/network signage will also be required on an ongoing basis.

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Time & Human Resources

The time and human resources required to implement bicycle signage will vary depending on the size of the city and extent of route/network signage. The time associated with maintenance of route/network signage will also be required on an ongoing basis.

Measure impact highlight

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The implementation of bicycle signage/wayfinding is likely to increase accessibility through raising awareness of the most appropriate routes for cyclists, assisting with navigation and enabling optional route choices based on individual preferences.

Note: An overview of the direct and indirect impacts resulting from correctly implemented cycling measures is available in{Challenges that cities face and how cycling can address them as Link}.

In-depth measure analysis, case studies and further guidance

[collapsed title=Detailed description of the measure]

Key features

Signage and wayfinding is a form of information, communication and promotion, enabling occasional (and more experienced) cyclists to successfully navigate a city by bicycle.

Cycling specific signage/wayfinding complements{Cycle Maps as Link} within cities through providing physical or online directional information en-route for cyclists. Comprehensive directional signage aimed at people who cycle can contribute to developing a safe and attractive place to cycle. Signage can link cycle paths, tracks, lanes and roads together so as to make up a network or route. In urban areas signage can be used to link together cycle parking, public transport stops and key destinations, such as schools, key services and facilities, shopping centres and tourist destinations etc. The success of the signage will depend on quality, coherence, consistency, readability and frequency of signs used. It is often the case that for a common destination, the route taken by cyclists is likely to be different from that for a motorist. An important feature will be the ability of cyclists to use the signage without the use of a map. An alternative or supplement to post-mounted signage is the use of cycle path surface painting along a route. Next to physical directional information, bicycle targeted navigation tools, mostly for smartphones, are an option to guide people on their trip by bicycle. Safeguarding safe cycling conditions, devices for the navigation software are fixed to the handlebar and work with visual and audio information given to cyclists – analogous to conventional navigation as used for cars.


Function and objectives

Signage/wayfinding provides people with information regarding the location of cycling routes, facilities and services and the ability to navigate between them. Signage/wayfinding may be used to indicate the routes (or alternative routes) that are considered safe, or safer, directing cyclists away from routes considered to be more dangerous. A secondary objective for signage/wayfinding is often to raise awareness and visibility of cycling as a transport mode within a city. Bicycle-specific signage can also promote cycling as a means of transport in its own right.

Complementary measures

Whilst other measures (such as{3.4 Cycle maps as Link}) can play an important role in raising awareness regarding cycling and assisting in navigation around a city for people travelling by bicycle, the provision of good quality cycling infrastructure will support this measure. Online navigation tools are less bound to cycling specific infrastructure and can make suggestions as to alternative routes within the overall road network.


Very little information is available in terms of the evaluated performance of signage/wayfinding. Like other information and awareness raising tools, signage/wayfinding rely to a certain extent on the provision of other quality cycling infrastructure, measures and facilities in order to successfully influence cycling modal share (being more relevant to physical signage/wayfinding than software-based navigation options). However, they are likely to achieve a modal shift to cycling through raising awareness of existing infrastructure and routes in any case.

Accessibility is also likely to be increased through the provision of information to residents/visitors on existing routes/facilities for cyclists and easier navigation of these routes with complementary signage.

Cycle signage could also assist with increasing safety for bicycles and their users, through warning other road users that there is likely to be cyclists using the route. Signage/wayfinding can help to reduce the barriers to cycling, whilst increasing awareness and increasing the ease and comfort of cycling.

Therefore, awareness through the provision of comprehensive signage/wayfinding could help to increase cycling mode share (and other secondary impacts associated with increased cycling mode share) and increase accessibility and safety.

Parameters of success or failure

Cities should consider the users of the proposed signage/wayfinding. The way information is presented may be different depending on whether someone is running an errand, cycling for recreational purposes, or is a tourist; and the respective users' needs will, therefore have to be taken into account. For example, errand driven trips may be looking for direct functional routes and associated cycle services, whereas tourists may prefer more scenic routes and may need to identify key tourist destinations.

Themes and standardised colours/symbols/fonts should be used to ensure that signage/wayfinding solutions are recognisable as part of the local cycle network. Bolzano’s Rad-Metro Bozen cycle network used colours and design to resemble a metro system. The type/design of signage that can be used may depend on local, regional or national guidance, so cities should consider what is feasible.

It is also important for all information provided to be relevant and up to date – therefore information provided via route signage needs to be regularly assessed, reviewed, updated and well-maintained. In order to do this, a database of cycling assets should be kept up to date and a maintenance plan agreed (signage review/maintenance).

At its simplest level, the use of cycle-specific signage/wayfinding can be transferred to any city. However, cycling routes and facilities need to be available within the city, and information/data on their location should be obtainable. Without appropriate cycling infrastructure and facilities, barriers to cycling are likely to remain despite the provision of information and awareness raising. Navigation systems allow circumventing this dependency for some part depending on the given road network features.

Key Lesson: Continuous, comprehensive signing

In order for signage to be successful, it needs to be continuous, comprehensive and easy to understand. Missing signs cause concerns for users, whereas comprehensive signage can create a good impression for first time users, encouraging further use.


[collapsed title=Infrastructure design guidance - Signage and wayfinding]

Overall recommendations

  • Cycling signage should be easily distinguishable from signage for other road/route users.
  • Cycling signage should be consistent in terms of the colours, symbols and fonts used (within a city, region or country), ensuring it is easily recognisable by cyclists and other road/route users.
  • Cycling signage should be of similar quality and size as other traffic signage and similarly placed. It should be clear and readable from an approaching distance by cyclists.
  • Directional signage should be continuous and in both directions.
  • Directional signage should be clearly visible to cyclists following a route, reassuring them that they are on the right route.
  • Cycling signage should include information on key destinations, distances and/or times at frequent locations along a route. Cycle parking should also be clearly signed.
  • The number of destinations and associated information on signs should be limited, as not to confuse users.
  • Cycling signage should be used to direct cyclists away from hazards such as busy road junctions, and should define pleasant and safe routes for them to explore.
  • The design of signage should minimise street clutter and be sensitive to the environment in which it is placed.
  • Where road/route markings are used to support signage, they should be clear and kept in good condition.

City practitioners should consult national cycle infrastructure design standards or regulations (where available) regarding the appropriate design and implementation of signage in respective Member States.


[collapsed title=Case Studies]

[collapsed title=Rad-Metro Bozen, including signage (Bolzano, Italy)]

  • Location: Baltics/Eastern/Central
  • Population: Medium Urban Area (106,951)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Champion (26%)

Bolzano’s Rad-Metro Bozen is a network of bicycle paths, connecting users to every part of the city safely and quickly. The network has a clear corporate identity that guides cyclists through the city. The key objective of the Rad-Metro Bozen was to give an identity to cycling. A logo was developed together with the design department of the university and a design company to help raise awareness for cycling in the population. The aim was to create a network of cycling lanes with a resemblance of public transport systems (Metro lines). Key design and implementation features are the signage across town, cycling lane colouring to imitate a metro system and a logo for cycling in Bolzano which can be found on signs, rental bikes etc. The principal bike routes have different colours and names and have been designed in the standardised corporate identity (logo, colours, style etc.). Signage in Bolzano has been developed to reflect this and therefore includes the name (colour) of the bike route and the city’s corporate cycling identity, in addition to directions, points of interest etc.


The full budget spent on the Rad-Metro Bozen is difficult to estimate since a lot of this work was done with funding from European projects, such as:

  • VIANOVA project: marketing, logo, “bicycle barometer” on one of the main bike lanes showing the total number of cyclists on the present day,
  • REZIPE: electric mobility, bicycle charging stations (for experience see discussion above)
  • Clean Air Initiative - European Biking cities: sharing experiences with different cities across Europe

The performance of individual cycling measures has not been assessed within the city, although an indication of the overall impacts of all cycling measures can be provided. The cycling mode share in Bolzano has increased from 17% in 2001 to 26% in 2017. This increase in cycling modal share has largely been influenced by the network of cycling lanes and associated measures. In addition, measures for other modes e.g. parking policy (not easy to find parking slot) have resulted in a modal shift. Over the last few years, the number of cycling accidents has been constant at 200 cyclist accidents/year. While the absolute number of accidents has not changed over time, the number of cyclists has significantly increased, thus the share of cyclists involved in accidents has decreased, implying improvements in safety. Any changes in air quality are difficult to be linked to cycling. Air quality problems result from the location of the city and the highway close by. Also, other impacts on the environment due to cycling measures are difficult to separate out.


[collapsed title=Online Route Planner (Brussels, BE)]

  • Location: North/North West
  • Population: Larger urban area (1.2 million)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Starter (2%)

The Brussels route planner is an online web application. It aims to support cyclists in travelling around the city, with a particular focus on the secondary cycle network. Within Brussels, there is bike signage that indicates coloured cycle routes within the city. The signage and the route colours used on physical signage within the city are replicated in the application. When you input a route, the planner will also inform you where the bike parking is near your destination. The planner was updated in summer 2018 to include other elements, such as potential alternative routes, e.g. the fastest or greenest route.

The application was developed for Brussels Mobility by Open Knowledge Belgium in partnership with local students. Such a collaboration was made possible as a result of the city’s open data policy. Open Knowledge Belgium is part of the international Open Knowledge network and is itself a not-for-profit umbrella organisation. It runs various activities locally, including an ‘Open Summer of Code’, which provides support to students to develop services based on open source data. It was as part of last year’s event that three local students were supported to develop the Brussels bicycle route planner. Prior to the development of the planner, cyclists were able to download pdf of the cycle routes, but these were not that convenient to use.

The planner uses Open Street Map, which is one of Open Knowledge Belgium's working groups. It is a map developed using open data and contributions from 1.2 million volunteers worldwide. Open data on the cycle routes, signage and bicycle parking in the Brussels Region was provided by Brussels Mobility. The students combined these sets of data in order to produce the route planner. First, it was necessary to validate the two sets of data – i.e. to make sure that they were consistent – and then integrate the two datasets.

The development of the route planner took three students one month, effectively 48 working days; they were supported by a half-time coach, who also ensured that the project was completed in time. The total cost was €11,500, of which €9,000 was financial support to the students. Once Open Knowledge Belgium had designed and developed the route planner, it was handed over to Brussels Mobility. Such an approach made sense for the development of the planner, as there was otherwise no incentive for a private party to develop such a planner.


The route planner has not yet officially been launched, so there is no information available on its use so far. Once it has been launched, which is anticipated to be in the summer of 2018, it will be possible to identify how many people are using the application. This will be the subject of a monthly report that will be produced for Brussels Mobility.

The route planner was developed with input from cyclist user groups in the Brussels Metropolitan Region, who provided feedback on the way in which the planner was designed.

Key parameters of success/failure: Important features of the route planner, which should contribute to making it a success, include that it is mobile-friendly, which is important nowadays, is free to use and that it is multi-lingual (which is particularly important for Brussels). The design is also attractive and easy to use, as it has been developed with input from cyclists, as noted above. Only a few clicks are needed before a cyclist can start navigating. The ease of use is key.

The replication of the route signage and colours is also important, as this provides a link between the route planner and the physical world. The planner has also been branded using the Brussels Region’s ‘Bike for Brussels’ logo.

The planner is a good example of the re-use of open data. It was also a good example of co-creation between different parties, including the Brussels Mobility and local cyclist groups. As part of the Open Summer of Code, an event about the development of the route planner was held, which also helped to engage local people.

While Open Street Maps has cycle routes included already, these have been input by third parties and so have not been presented in a way that is integrated with the signage and routing that is used in a city. Using the open source data provided by Brussels Mobility enabled a route planner to be developed that reflected better the physical conditions within the city.

The route planner is also a web application, rather than a native application. In other words, rather than having to go to an online app store and download another app for your phone, the planner simply asks if you want to put a link on your phone, which will take you, via the internet, to the route planner.


A route planner could be developed in this way for any city that has open data. As long as the city has open data on its bicycle routes, the associated signage and bicycle parking, these data could be integrated with Open Street Maps to develop the planner. The city authority needs to be on board, but the design and development of the route planner should be undertaken externally in the same way as for Brussels.

For a cycle route planner to be developed, there obviously needs to be some form of cycle network within the city. There also needs to be the technical knowledge locally to develop the tool, using the open data from the city and the Open Street Maps platform. If you know what you are doing, the actual development of the planner is relatively straightforward.

There is the potential means of engaging other cities, as the intention is that the ‘Open Summer of Code’ events will be expanded in the future to other cities in Europe, during which such routes planners might be developed.

Key insights and lessons learned

There were competing demands and ideas from the different parties involved. It was important to make a distinction between the ‘must-haves’ and the ‘nice-to-haves’. There are always many ideas when different organisations are involved, so it is important to remember that ultimately it is the needs of the user that are important. It is a challenge to balance the different demands, but it is important to keep focused on who you are developing the planner for.

The development of the planner was hosted by Open Knowledge Belgium and was then transferred to the IT Department of the Brussels Metropolitan Region. Earlier engagement with the latter would have helped to facilitate this process.

One of the challenges that still need to be addressed is how the application will be maintained. In the short-term, this will be undertaken by volunteers. In the longer-term, a more sustainable solution will need to be found.

There was also a challenge with the type of browsers that were used by Brussels Mobility compared to the browsers more widely used by citizens, and therefore this should be taken into account when developing similar planners.


[collapsed title=‘Smart Routes’ (Groningen, Netherlands)]

Cycle congestion and safety became an issue on a cycle route to Groningen University. Therefore, a campaign was run to promote alternative ‘Smart Routes’. Part of the marketing strategy involved clear signposting and accompanying road markings indicating the Smart Routes, in addition to the promotion of the routes to students during induction week and via other media. Evaluation of the campaign revealed a 4% shift of cyclists to the alternative route.



[collapsed title=Key guidance, further reading and references]

Sustrans (2013) Cycle Network Signing: Technical Information Note No. 05. July 2013

20 JULY 2021
(2.27 MB - PDF)

NACTO (N.D) Urban Bikeway Design Guide: Bike Route Wayfinding Signage and Marking systems:…

Central MeetBike (2014) Factsheet H-09 – Signposting and service infrastructure

20 JULY 2021
(944.37 KB - PDF)

CROW (2017) Design manual for bicycle traffic. Chapter 7.4

Difu (2010) Cycling Expertise: Signposting

20 JULY 2021
(1.21 MB - PDF)

Cycling Embassy of Denmark (2012) Collection of Cycling Concepts

20 JULY 2021
(14.46 MB - PDF)

Sustrans (2015) Sustrans Design Manual Chapter 11: Signing cycle networks

20 JULY 2021
(912.96 KB - PDF)

Ökoinstitut Südtirol/Alto Adige (ND) Toolkit for the implementation of a corporate cycling system - Bicycle friendly Bolzano/Bozen

20 JULY 2021
(5.58 MB - PDF)

CROW design Manual for bicycle traffic

CERTU (2007) Guidelines for cycle facilities in urban areas, Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Housing (France).

20 JULY 2021
(2.97 MB - PDF)

CHAMP (n.d.) Cycling Heroes Advancing sustainable Mobility Practice – CHAMP Catalogue – do’s and don’ts for successful implementation of cycling policies:

20 JULY 2021
(3.82 MB - PDF)