New signs give Raleigh greenways direction

I pulled over on the greenway and stared at the sign, puzzled. Puzzled not by the sign’s message, which was clear. Puzzled by its mere existence.

For years, the Triangle’s greenways consisted of strings of half-mile and mile-long bits of elbow macaroni, scattered about. Signs — signs showing you where you were and where you could go — weren’t a priority on a path that simply went from Point A to Point B. But as those greenways grew and those bits of elbow macaroni joined to form longer and interconnected noodles, the need for direction, for signs, increased. For the past decade or so, the main complaint about local greenways has been the absence of signs.

Cary began correcting that problem on its greenways a couple years ago, placing distictive, hard-to-miss blue and green signs at all trailheads, directional signs where trails met or crossed and the occasional kiosk-mounted locator map. Three months ago, Raleigh began following suit.

“We have some on the Walnut Creek greenway and around Lake Lynn, in addition to the ones you saw on Crabtree Creek Trail,” Vic Lebsock said last week. Lebsock said signs will now go up with every new greenway stretch added to the system — such as the House Creek and the Neuse River greenways — and are being added to existing high-use trails and trails where the city has received the most complaints.

The stretch of Crabtree Creek Trail I was on would certainly fall into the latter category. From where I stood straddling my bike at the spur leading to Alleghany Drive northwest to the greenway’s current northern end just shy of Duraleigh Road, distance of less than 4 miles, there are six spurs. Before the signs — done in a maroon and pea green color scheme — you could very easily take a right when you should have gone left and find yourself on a 4-mile diversion north past Shelley Lake.

The signs will be especially welcome with the completion of the House Creek Greenway, expected later this year. That 2.9-mile stretch will link the 11.7-mile Crabtree Creek Trail and 20 miles of trail to the south running from Southeast Raleigh into Cary.

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Go here to find a map of Raleigh’s greenway system.

2 thoughts on “New signs give Raleigh greenways direction”

  1. I agree that the new signs are a great and welcome addition to Raleigh’s greenways. I’m probably less appreciative because I have already invested a lot of time figuring it out the hard way (as in, “Where the heck am I now? Oh, so that’s where that goes”). But where I feel like Raleigh still needs work is where there are gaps in the greenways. When I first moved out near Crabtree Valley Mall, I wanted to see how far I could go along the greenway following the creek. Looking on-line, I thought I could go a good distance, but the pavement ended too soon, leaving me on a rough, single-track, up a stairway to Hertford St., and on to… Nowhere. Biking a block in either direction didn’t help, so I gave up. Returning home, I looked up the Greenway map where it showed a continuous Greenway from Lindsay Dr. to Milburnie Rd. (not that the map ever tells you the road names). I eventually took to carrying a map of the city with me and drawing the greenways in, marking intersections, underpasses, and where I had to take to the streets. I found the stretch behind Root Elementary, and eventually I saw the postage stamp-sized sign across the road directing me down Lassiter Mill. One day I lost that map, but by then the twists and turns and missing pieces were second nature, and then Google came along and married road data and bicycle data for me, and there was much rejoicing. But just a couple of months ago I saw some lost soul at the top of the Hertford stairway looking around in confusion. I was able to send him on his way with hints about how to traverse the next couple of gaps. So, yes, I love the new signage, but until they put in equally noticeable signs to get you through the gaps (and fix their map to show you when and where you’ll be on streets and what those streets are), then I’m going to stand by my decision to award “Worst signage” to Raleigh. As with many aspects of Raleigh’s bicycling infrastructure, they are improving rapidly, but there are still some basic changes that could make the greenways more accessible to new users.

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