Feature - Are we nearly there yet? Mountain pass road signs for cyclists in the province of Valencia

Puerto de Casas de Benalí, Enguera, Valencia.

As part of a welcome series of measures aimed at improving safety for cyclists and at promoting the tourism attraction of the region's inland villages and towns, a few years ago the Provincial Council of Valencia launched a project to install road-signs specially designed for cyclists on some 20 mountain passes covered by the province’s road network.

Road sign on the climb of Port de L'Oronet, Valencia, Spain
Road sign marking the beginning of Puerto de L'Oronet, Valencia

The initiative, which was carried out by the Provincial Highways Department, was launched with the installation of the first signs marking the beginning and the end of the l’ Oronet, Garbí y Barx climbs in the Sierra Calderona mountain range, just to the north of the city of Valencia and perennial favourites of local cyclists from time immemorial. 

Following these initial signs, the initiative has been extended to climbs throughout the province.

In addition to the signs marking the start and the summit of each climb, further markers are located at each kilometre point, showing the distance left to the summit and the average and maximum gradients for the following kilometre.

Kilometre marker on Puerto de L'Oronet, Valencia, showing distance to the summit and average and maximum gradient during the next kilometre

The initiative, similar to that deployed on many climbs in the Pyrenees, has been well-received by the province’s cyclists, as well as by the public authorities of other Spanish regions, who have sought advice on the installation of similar signage in their own regions.

Summit marker at Puerto del Portitxol, Vall d'Albaida, Valencia. Distance 7.9 km, altitude 777 m, altitude gain 386 m, average gradient 4.9%, maximum gradient 9%
So, do they have a positive effect?

Notwithstanding the use of the on-bike GPS, cadence- and power-meters that we often use to analyse and classify our efforts when cycling, the signs do help to break down longer climbs into "manageable" units, and they can have a certain oddly calming effect on our tortured brain as we grind away up the side of Puerto-I-Can't-Even-Think-Straight-Anymore under the punishing Mediterranean sun.

Additionally, in conjunction with the signage used to designate Valencia's protected cycling routes that we talked about in an earlier post, they would also seem to have a positive effect on vehicle drivers, acting as a further, visible and authorised indication of the "right" of cyclists to be on the roads. And that can only be a good thing.

Part of a broader plan to promote cycling in the province

During recent years, the Valencia Provincial Council has sought to extend the region’s network of bike routes and segregated bike-pedestrian lanes with the aim of improving the safety of all users of the public road network, and especially that of sports cyclists and those who use their bikes as a regular mode of transport.

Following the detection of an increase in the rate of traffic incidents involving cyclists, the Provincial Council took steps towards the introduction of processes aimed at identifying problems within the sector and at generating proposals to improve safety.

The design of the Council’s strategy in this area includes contacts with local cycling clubs and federations in order to obtain first-hand information about cycling-specific problems. The Council has also differentiated two main groups of cyclists on which to focus its efforts: those who practice cycling as a sport on the province’s roads, and those who need segregated cycle-paths in order to be able to use their bikes safely when travelling to and from work or for leisure.

Further measures introduced in this sense include the reduction of speed limits on certain stretches of road, the addition of special signage on roads that are heavily used by cyclists, and the creation of + 2 metre wide, red painted pavements which grant special preference to cyclists. 

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Michael Dixon

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