Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Emperor's New Signage

The Emperor of the New Forest was very proud of his cycle routes and wanted only the very best signage for them, so that his subjects on bicycles could find their way about in the forest. He searched far and wide but could never find quite the style of signage that he liked.

One day, two wicked Rangers came to him and said, “Sire, we have the just the thing for you – the very best signage that has ever been devised, but you will need to give us lots of money so that we can put this project properly into effect, and also it will take some time, so difficult will be our task. Moreover, this signage is magic: only wise cyclists will be able to see it; fools will see nothing at all!” The emperor was dead impressed and told the rangers to start work immediately. He said, “I only want clever people working for me, not fools.” When they were alone, the wicked Rangers laughed like drains. “All the cyclists in the forest will pretend to see the signage. Nobody will want to look a prat!” Next day and for the next few weeks they beavered away on the non-existent signage but everyone who watched them at work pretended to see the most beautiful signage in the whole world! Even the Emperor of the New Forest could not see any signage but he did not want to be thought a fool. The emperor was very happy and he gave the two wicked Rangers lots of money.

The day came when the new signage was ready to be installed on all the cycle routes of the New Forest and this ‘task’ was carried out by the two wicked Rangers who, after their final payment, disappeared and were never seen again. Then the emperor and his subjects cycled in the forest and said, “This new signage is amazing!” for they didn’t want to look like idiots, but in truth they rode round and round and got totally lost. And so it is that to this day that, despite the Sustrans online mapping which shows Route 2 passing through the New Forest and notwithstanding the fact that you should be able to follow any route of the National Cycle Network without a map, much of it has in fact only magic signs which can only be seen by clever cyclists.

Context: I have just ridden Route 2 from Dorchester to Southampton. It was fortunate that I had fed the route from the online mapping into my Garmin gadget before setting out. Otherwise I might still be in the New Forest together with the emperor’s subjects, riding round and round forever! A beautiful route, nevertheless! (Recommended – but take a map with you!)

8 comments:

  1. Brilliant post Clyde, very witty with a serious message in there to Sustrans i think. Pity the signage on NCN 2 isn't half as good as your article.

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    1. Thought I just replied to this - did I forget to press Publish? Thanks, Bob, good to hear from you again. How are you doing? Do you still go down to Devon? I have some gripes about signage down there too! (you won't be surprised to learn!) This time I'll press Publish!

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    2. Hello Clyde. I'm fine thanks and i hope you are too. No I’m not going down Devon now as Pam and I split up about a year ago. However I'm still doing lots of work with the Lichfield and Pelsall rangers. Oh plus the 'Back the Track' group which is starting to move forward now. 'BTT' now have a constitution and bank account etc. Actually it's a big day for the 'BTT' team on Sunday as we're going to move a load of rubbish from the disused railway under a bridge in Brownhills. It's all very positive at the moment... http://www.backthetrack.org.uk/

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  2. Looking forward to hearing act 2, in which our heroes of Mercia come and save the day with the halloed signage schedule; and act 3 in which a great ranger army, of true wheel and stout seat post, is raised within that ancient forest to set right what once was left. And behold, the scales were lifted from the emperors eyes!

    ~ penned by a lowly bard of the Nottingham court

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    1. Ha ha! Yes, I'm still looking forward to the follow-up too! Though Simon's comment below makes me even more puzzled. Maybe I'm becoming senile - too much ale and mead!

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  3. Enjoyed the post but was slightly surprised as I've ridden route 2 through the New Forest a couple of times with no problem. I did have the map of course but as far as I remember the signage was OK. Perhaps it was wicked Vandals and Visigoths who did the damage, not Rangers at all? - & I'm sure you will have notified the relavent Sustrans office?

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  4. I did keep an eye on this post for a couple of weeks, after which I forgot all about it! I have returned now, after more than 5 months (which might prove that these blogs are not always terribly effective, I suppose) and found three comments - thank you all! But Simon, which New Forest are you talking about? Without my Garmin Edge 200 into which I had put a pre-planned 'course' the night before, there is NO way I would have followed Route 2 correctly. Yes, I could have gone along roads and found my way between Holmsley and Brockenhurst one way or another, but not by sticking to the NCN route. Unless ... have they changed the route? (When did you go there?) Or have Vandals indeed removed signage? We know that cycling is not everybody's favourite pastime in the New Forest. Yes, I did mention it to the volunteer liaison for the SE but she hasn't got back to me yet.

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  5. Re the signage issue on NCN 2... The problem i noticed was in Axminster a couple of years ago.The problem being incorrect signage of NCN 2 and NCN 33 at a junction in the town centre. The signs were permanent metal signs put up by the council i guess. I reported it to the relevant Sustrans area manager but was told there wasn't a local ranger group to look into the problem. However, the problem was sorted about a year later but i don't know who corrected the signage.

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