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Notes about Signage

By Alex Hearn - Bikerpelli Sports

* The idea is to make the route so incredibly dummy-proof that no rider will ever wonder if he’s on the right road or turning the right direction. Route marshals will likely be at key intersections but should be your backup plan for route markings – in theory marshals should be completely unnecessary.
* DO NOT ASSUME riders will be looking for your markings – they probably aren’t. It is the sign-er’s responsibility to be sure riders see the sign, not the other way around. If they don’t see it, they’ll blame you.

This is not an easy job. It is also probably the single most important job on the entire event – if the route markings aren’t done correctly it can spell disaster for the riders & staff.

There is an art to the science of route marking – the key is to view the route from a rider’s perspective. Remember that rider is moving approx 15 mph or faster, may be winded or tired & isn’t necessarily looking for your signs.

Placement is as important as sign text. Placement should be directly in the line of a biker’s sight and text should be as simple as possible to avoid any misinterpretation. A couple feet off to the side & it likely won’t be noticed.

Use consistent signage materials, for instance orange coro-plast boards. Riders will become conditioned to seeing those signs & will intuitively look for them at key points.

Create a representation on paper of the precise signage needs & placements in a dummy-proof fashion so anyone could walk in & know exactly how to do this job with maximum accuracy in future years. That becomes the template you work from. Post-event be sure to add a page called “changes for next year” with anything that should be done differently.

Your responsibility is to make sure the riders always know exactly where to go at any time without thinking about it – this is not simply putting signs up! You’ll have to assess things like rider perspective, speed, traffic, hazards and the rider mindset at any given point.

* Tour route & become very familiar
* 6 weeks out – determine sign materials & construction methods, you’ll be making at least 1 sign per mile of course or more.
o Test signs for weatherproof-ness & visibility, make necessary adjustments – this is why you’re starting this piece early.
o Order sign materials in bulk from industrial supplier – Google is your friend here.
* Three weeks before event - Determine sign needs, text & placement & mark on map with accompanying roster of sign numbers & text on those signs.
o For example, sign #4 – left turn arrow, “ALL ROUTES”
o Dummy-proof so there’s no ambiguity – very important!
+ More text = smaller text = can’t be read at 15 mph. Keep it simple.
* Total the roster of sign needs so they can be printed
o For example, 12 copies of left turn arrow with “ALL ROUTES”
o Include a few backups in case of damage in the field
o Be sure to print plenty of straight-ahead arrows (no text) for long stretches along the same road – they aren’t marked on the map but any long stretch should have an arrow every few miles to prevent riders from wondering “am I going the right way?”
o Dummy-proof so there’s no ambiguity – very important!
* Construct signs from printed materials
* Number back of signs according to master sign roster
o This helps avoid mix-ups in the field
o BE SURE to get this right! Double check!
o If you add a sign, it becomes 64a, 64b, etc
* Total number of sign posts necessary for posting signs
* List of equipment necessary for your job
o For example, safety vest, hammer, posts, zip-ties & awl, steel rods, gloves, staple gun, staples, duct tape, etc
* Day before event – start no later than 2 PM. Placing signs is a two-person job, one driver & one navigator / sign placer. This will take approx 5-6 hours. Bring food & water. Wear orange vest.
* Day of event – Start no later than 6 AM. Tour all routes & ensure signs haven’t been vandalized, removed or anything else. Bring backup signs, markers, posts etc in case you have to make or repair signs in the field. You may want to check urban areas several times as they’re the most likely to be damaged or vandalized.
o Once tour is complete (around 9 am) - circle route & remove signs behind riders. Separate from stakes. Be careful to protect them for future use.

Keep in mind that:

* weeds may not be cut low & can hide signs
* cars may be parked along the side of road blocking signs
* Shoulder gravel may not be conducive to hammering in a signpost. Pre-drill with rebar.
* DOT doesn’t like signs attached to existing signposts so avoid when possible.

Equipment –

* Sign boards with text, numbered
* Appropriate ## of posts, 18” minimum
o Include about 20+ extra for breaks
* Mini sledge
* Gloves
* Rebar rod
* Staple gun with extra staples
* Awl
* Zipties
* Duct tape
* Several blank boards & markers for repairing damaged signs
* Simple arrow signs, no text
* Hedge clippers
* Tree trimmers
* Orange safety vest
* Spray paint for hazards
* Shovel & broom for gravel & hazards
* Pliers to remove staples if needed