Bicycle route naming and signs standards

Bicycle route sign shared path
Bicycle route sign shared path

This letter was sent as a submission on behalf of the listed Bicycle User Groups on Tuesday 8 June 2010.

Dear Minister Pallas and Premier Brumby,

We, the undersigned Bicycle User Groups (BUGs), wish to draw to your attention to the opportunities outlined in this letter for improving the safety and utility of cycling and the improved delivery of cycling infrastructure throughout Victoria.

Current issues

Lack of coordination and consistency across council boundaries

The current situation where councils all do their own thing with respect to cycle paths is quite unsatisfactory. VicRoads has developed guidelines for signage but that these are not binding on councils. Furthermore there is no central registry of the actual names of trails. Some councils use sensible descriptive names, others choose quirky names that are not appropriate.

Bicycle or shared path access points and signage

Signs on roads that indicate access points to bicycle or shared paths should lead cyclists to them, and be placed at every turn or intersection to guide potential users to the access point

Continuity of bicycle and shared paths

  • When road crossings are offset – path continuations are not directly opposite each other – signs should indicate in which direction to proceed along the road to find the path continuation
  • Path continuations should be clearly marked by both signs and path markings such as lines
  • When bicycle or shared paths cross, names of all paths should be indicated intersections
  • Path names should continue across municipal boundaries. Path names should not change at Council boundaries.
  • At complex intersections (e.g. a hook or offset turn/crossing with lights), the “resumption point” sign and road markings (i.e. where to rejoin the route on the other side of the road/intersection) should be clearly visible from the point where the rider waits to cross or pushes the cycle lights button.

Links to the external world

When shared paths cross over or under roads or streets these should be clearly identified, thus enabling cyclists to use paths more easily for utility purposes.

Consistent appearance of signs

Signs for cycle paths and routes, both on and off road, should have a consistent appearance and information including:

  • The name and/or code for the route
  • A consistent colour – blue is suggested as the standard
  • A consistent format
  • Be placed at consistent locations along the route, particularly at intersections and turns
  • Be placed at a height where they are clearly visible to cyclists, who often tend to look down rather than up

Signs and their location (designated by a unique code) could also be used be emergency services for establishing locations when required.

Appropriate level of government responsibility for safe cycling facilities

It is currently unclear who in Government is responsible and accountable for delivering safe cycling infrastructure in Victoria. Currently, responsibilities are spread across and shared between local councils, VicRoads, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and several Victorian State Government departments and Ministers.

Due to the current unclear and diffused responsibility for cycling infrastructure, state and local government bodies involved in providing cycling infrastructure often do not have shared or consistent approaches or priorities.

For example:

  • Some departments regard off-road paths as recreational facilities when quite clearly many are now primarily traffic routes. An example is the Yarra Trail and Gardiners Creek path during morning and afternoon peak commute times.
  • VicRoads maintains on-road cycle paths and lanes, but not off road paths.
  • Local Councils maintain off road cycle paths, but only up to their municipal boundaries.
  • VicTrack does not encourage or allow development of cycle paths on or near much of Melbourne’s train networks.

A state government department and Minister that can coordinate across the following areas and regions would greatly improve delivery of safe and effective cycling infrastructure. The Minister for Cycling could be responsible for:

  • An overarching cycling strategy and plan for Melbourne and Victoria.
  • Path that cross municipal boundaries for both on-road and off-road cycle paths and routes.
  • Paths on Crown land
  • Paths on railway easements (VicTrack)
  • Consistent regulations for path signage and markings.


We, the signatories of this letter recommend:

  • Mandatory legislated standards for bicycle route and path signage are required. It is desirable that these standards are consistently applied both within Victoria and nationally. Ideally, the signs should conform to an accepted international standard in the same way as road signs throughout Australia already do.
  • A single Victorian minister with responsibility and accountability for cycling by appointed. This minister should also own and these standards and ensure they are enacted.
  • That local Bicycle User Groups such as ourselves be included routinely and early during community consultation relating to any project that delivers or impacts cycling infrastructure.

Response from Office of Minister for Roads and Ports