Wayfinding Guide: Frequently Asked Questions


Why is a wayfinding guide for bicycling needed in Nova Scotia?

BNS and our partners have identified a need for guidance to coordinate the design, planning and implementation of wayfinding signs across bicycle route and trail networks in Nova Scotia. Our objective is to create a wayfinding design guide that is instructive to all bikeway and trail route managers, with a focus on the Blue Route and other branded routes that strive to attract out of province visitors as well as local traffic. The guide will help route managers collaborate, coordinate and plan their operations to provide an enhanced user experience through consistent wayfinding conventions.


What is a wayfinding guide and sign family?

Wayfinding refers to the process of being oriented in one’s surroundings, making decisions to select a destination and a route to get there, checking to be sure the route is going in the right direction, making adjustments to stay on course, and being able to recognize when the destination has been reached.

A wayfinding guide is a framework that describes and facilitates a coordinated wayfinding process. For this project, it includes details on where signs should go, specifications for installation, provisions for co-branding, and a description of a sign family.

The sign family is a major component of a guide. It is the piece that makes wayfinding work as a system, and it includes:

  • the overall approach and identity;
  • the graphic elements of the signs (colour, typefaces, symbols, etc.);
  • each sign type in the family (decision signs, destination signs, information signs, etc.);
  • material and fabrication specs; and
  • the layout of each sign panel.


Who is leading the creation of the guide?

Bicycle Nova Scotia is leading this project. The core team also includes representative from Tourism Nova Scotia and NS Dept. of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Much of the work will be conducted by UPLAND, a planning and design studio based in Dartmouth. The project is jointly funded by Tourism Nova Scotia and ACOA.


When will the guide be ready to use?

Creation of the guide will begin in June and will be completed by the end of 2018. The goal is to ensure the guide can be applied to decision making for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.


Where is the wayfinding signage meant to go?

The guide will describe a set of criteria and standards for deciding where to place certain types of signs in various contexts, including rural roads, on-street bikeway facilities, pathways, and trails.


Is the guide just for bicycle wayfinding?

The signage system is being created with cyclists needs at top-of-mind, but in practical terms, it will be designed for any low speed mode of transportation (ie; less than 25 km/h). This included cyclists and pedestrians, but also cross-country skiers, joggers, rollerbladers, and slow-moving ATVs or snowmobilers.


Will the signage standards be mandatory?

No, the signage guide and sign family will be completely optional for community groups to use. The objective of this project is to provide useful tools for community partners, not pile on more rules and regulations!


What does this mean for existing signage?

Existing signage will not need to be removed or changed, until it has reached the end of its usable life span. When the time comes that it is outdated or in disrepair, managers may choose to use this guide to update their system. Furthermore, the guide will include recommendations for signage system planning that managers can use to enhance the implementation of their current brands and signs. For example, the guide will include recommendations for placement and installation of turn signs, destinations signs, and accessory service signs that can be adapted to fit most wayfinding system designs.


What should an organization do if they are already developing signage?

There are options for groups already developing signage. It is perfectly fine to keep up momentum and going with work that is already underway, to get post in the ground as soon as possible. Alternatively, it could be exciting to wait until the guide is complete and be one of the first groups to join in the broader movement toward cohesive signage. It depends on the organizations priorities.


Will there be funding for implementation?

There is currently no plan for dedicated funding toward new wayfinding routes and trails. However, there is opportunity to leverage wayfinding installation on the Blue Route, pool resources among groups for bulk purchase at discounts, or to establish a standing offer for fabrication. The intention is to make more efficient use of the resources that already exist.