A gentle ting black and whiteWith so many men turning to bikes for exercise, and many having not a clue about good behaviour on shared paths, it’s getting scary to be a pedestrian, especially with children around.

So, I’ve been thinking about how to communicate good shared path protocols for cyclists.

Building on thinking for a cycling behaviour strategy for the City of Sydney, I’ve just made some mock-ups (below).

First, it should be unmissable, big and bold, so no one can be in doubt that it’s important. So a full width path stencil should do the trick.

Second, it should clearly illustrate the behaviour, so cyclists know precisely what’s expected of them.

Thirdly, it should not tell people they are wrong (which will lead to resistance). It should just neutrally describe the desired behaviour. The aim should be to form in cyclists’ minds an idea of the behaviours other people expect as normal. That makes it about social norms rather than compliance.

Which behaviour? Other campaigns have focused on having a one-metre overtaking distance. However that’s liable to send the wrong message – that’s it OK to overtake at high speed (and still scare the bejesus out of people) so long as you’re a little distance away.

Better to focus on belling. The reason is that it focuses on communication, reminding training cyclists that pedestrians and other cyclists really exist, and expect to be communicated with. I think that, once you’re communicating, it helps you consider the other person’s point of view.

So “A gentle ting”. Three words that describe the desired behaviour with precision.

Here are the mock-ups.

One gentle ting 1 smallOne gentle ting 2 small