Bike symbols

Bicycle symbol #1 in the image below is the one used on signs for the official cycle route network in the UK and which Cycling England refers to as cycle route waymarking. Someone, somewhere, was given the job of drawing the symbol and the pleasure of seeing their work reproduced tens of thousands or maybe even hundreds of thousands of times all around the country. Was it a junior official or did a more senior person grab this important task for themselves? Perhaps it was chosen by a Committee. Either way it’s almost certainly the work of a public sector road engineer, not an artist.

Bike symbols

Bike symbols

100% accurate representation for a simple bicycle graphic isn’t really necessary, or even possible. In fact I think it’s better to characterise it instead of what the government’s official sign designer tried to do by including the cranks and pedals. The wheels are also too small (probably accidentally), the crossbar (top tube) is horizontal (rarely seen these days), and the handlebars are either old fashioned or Dutch. I suppose this symbol does its job, just about.

Bike symbol

Symbol #2 is from the CTC’s awful logo, with the bike blown backwards by the wind or collided with a wall. #6 is clean and expressive but for me is too ‘public lavatory’ in style. Others – #7 and #10 – have a tube fixed to both wheels: artistic licence gone a step too far. Of the fifteen bicycle symbols in the image my favourite is #9 but it would be no use for cycle route waymarking as it might be seen to signify a rider pitched over the handlebars.

Inset (with the blue background) is my personal attempt to draw a bicycle symbol suitable for cycle route network signs. I quite like it. I’ve used the minimum number of elements without losing the immediate vision of a bike, and left out the fork, rear stays, drive train, and hubs. Symbols #1 and #13 are the only ones that include the cranks and pedals; they are completely superfluous. Anyway, I could send my drawing to Cycling England, or whoever is taking over their duties, to see if they like it as much as I do, but I wonder if I own the copyright. Logos are copyright but can a symbol be?

Public footpath sign

The worst bike symbol I’ve ever seen is this one hand-painted on the road in Chorley. Incidentally, the ‘walker’ symbol on public footpath signs in the UK is wrong. He is swinging forward the arm on the same side as his leading leg. That isn’t how humans walk – we swing forward the opposite arm to the leading leg.

Bicycle symbol (now completed) »