The Classic - Cycle Oregon

Metro will install 400 new route signs on regional trail network this year

Posted by on March 7th, 2016 at 2:12 pm

The new signs aim to present a unifed brand aesthetic no matter where you find them.
(Photos/images: Metro)

With dozens of different jurisdictions managing over 100 walking and bikings paths and trails in our region, the design of route signs is all over the map. There’s no consistency from one path to the next and many signs are outdated and not nearly as helpful as they should be. Thankfully Metro is working to change that. They plan to put up 400 new signs on paths and trails in 2016.

Metro’s Senior Regional Trail Planner Robert Spurlock said the project is at the heart the mission of The Intertwine, a regional coalition launched in 2009 to build all the parks, paths and trails in the Porltand-Vancouver metro area.

“For years we’ve been asking the public how the regional trail system is working for them and how it can be improved,” he said in an interview last week. “And people always say they want better wayfinding.” Metro has been working with other Intertwine partners for years to create a unifying signage standard that would cross jurisdictional boundaries and serve the public with more clarify. Spurlock says a working group of 20 representatives from regional parks and transporation agencies got together four years ago to help write the grant application. Tests of the new design first went up in 2012 along the Fanno Creek Trail in Tigard and surveys have shown they have a 95 percent positive feedback rating.

The new signs are funded with federal transportation revenue that came to Metro through a $265,000 Oregon Department of Transportation grant.

Here are more images and examples of the signs:


The ODOT grant will help pay for installation of signs on 20 more miles of trails including: the entirety of the Trolley Trail from Portland to Gladstone, the Tualatin River Greenway (which will open next month), portions of the Rock Creek Trail in Hillsboro, and so on.

In addition to the new signs which will help people navigate paths and trails with a clear design and consistent look-and-feel, there are also new mile-markers that will be installed every quarter-mile, “to boost safety by making it easier for trail users to know their precise locations.”

CORRECTION, 8:57pm: An earlier version of this story showed sign designs that were out of date. For the current sign design guidelines, see this document (PDF). We regret any confusion

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

BikePortland can’t survive without paid subscribers. Please sign up today.

Portland Century August 19th

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • B. Carfree March 7, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    I wish the signs would not put a time estimate and just stick to standard distances. The time estimate is distracting, and with the signs already being somewhat small and added clutter makes it harder to see the useful information.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Buzz March 7, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      Plus everyone doesn’t travel at the same speed.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • matt March 7, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Do we know how they come up with that estimate? Is it just assuming a specific average speed over a certain distance? Or does it take into account things like elevation gains/losses?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • John Lascurettes March 7, 2016 at 4:39 pm

        ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Part of the point why it would be more useful to give distance and elevation gain/loss as pure data and not do the estimates for us.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • El Biciclero March 8, 2016 at 9:12 am

        The times I’ve tried to figure it out, it seems like there is an assumed average speed of 10 mph.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • One Love March 7, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      I really like the time estimates. I know to take them with a grain of salt. I also like to race myself and see how I’m doing compared to the signs.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Adam H.
    Adam H. March 7, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    I don’t understand this. It seems there are three different sign designs being put out as part of the “unifying design”. Which ones are the standard? The ones with the yellow tops, the vertical sideways text ones, or the horizontal ones underneath the green bike sign?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • matt March 7, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      Relevant xkcd:

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 7, 2016 at 3:19 pm

        I was literally thinking the same thing.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 7, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      Hi Adam,

      I unfortunately included some sample sign designs that were out of date. I’ve updated the post with the current designs. Sorry for the confusion.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 8, 2016 at 8:49 am

        No worries, thanks! I like the yellow/black design. Looks very modern and easy to read. The old signs with the large “Intertwine” logo, were a bit odd, so I’m glad to see that was removed! Looking forward to seeing these around town!

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Chris I March 7, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Will they point out the designated camping spots?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Pat Lowell March 7, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    I hope they plan to include the ever-elusive 205 path!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Lester Burnham March 8, 2016 at 9:33 am

      And indicate where the homeless camps are.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Clark in Vancouver March 7, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    The black background on the maps is an interesting touch.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • scott March 7, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Beaverton (Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District) have had these signs for over three years.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • One Love March 7, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    I wish the city would add hundreds of route finding signs to the Neighborhood Greenways. It is really helpful (Especially to those new to riding bikes, out of towners, or those new to Portland.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Eric March 8, 2016 at 10:40 am

    But no bikes on METRO owned dirt!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John O. March 8, 2016 at 11:21 am

    I would really appreciate if the maps would include a small compass rose/designation of North.

    These signs aren’t always oriented with the trail and they don’t always contain significant landmarks. As a result, the most detailed map might be useless to me if I’m trying to explore the area.

    The average trail user may not even notice this information, but if you have a basic understanding of the way maps work and this information isn’t there when you’re feeling turned around, this can be very frustrating.

    Put it this way: It’s simply not enough to put current location (“You are Here”) on the map. I need more than one data point to navigate, and sometimes local landmarks aren’t sufficient.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mike Sanders March 8, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    After every intersection, there should be a trail name sign with a cardinal direction given. This would be consistent with longstanding practice on many highways. Posting street names at each road crossing would be helpful, and an advance warning of at least 1/2 mile would be helpful. The old waist high distance signs should be replaced by proper signs. The Springwater / I-205 junction deserves proper recognition. Travelers starting west from Boring should be seeing signs pointing to Gresham (S. Main St,), Powell Butte, the Sellwood Bridge, Oaks Park, and Tillicum Crossing as key destinations. Likewise in reverse for eastbound. ODOT does have I-205 Trail signs at each street crossing, but no destinations are signposted. Access to / from the Airport to the 205 Trail has never been properly signposted. Hopefully that’ll be changed. Guide signage on the Springwater rigged to the sides of the I-205 freeway overpass just east of the SWT/205 trail would make sense. Exits off the trails should now get better signposting!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • A.H. March 8, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Car-laden greenway —>

    <— Bike lane just stops, good luck

    ^— Drivers on cell phones giving you the finger

    <— An Uber driver who's not double-parked in a bike lane… jk, they are

    Consequences for negligent road users (under construction) —^

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Fourknees March 9, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    These signs have been great. Feedback from my friends have been all positive for the fanno creek trail and the Westside trail. Looking forward to the expansion of these.

    Recommended Thumb up 0