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Disoriented: Directional Signs Won’t Be Up in Time for Cycling Tourists



A citywide system of directional signs — you know, the arrows that say stuff like "downtown this way" — has eluded the city for upwards of 10 years, which has very much annoyed local tourism industry leaders.

No one disagrees that the signs are important in helping visitors get around and spend money. Perhaps that's why 6th District Councilwoman Ellen Robertson was so irritated last week when she found out that despite the city's finally agreeing to budget $1.7 million for the project in 2011, the signs won't be up in time for the Collegiate Road Nationals bike race in May.

The signs were supposed to go up in August 2012.

The Collegiate Nationals are expected to bring in thousands of out-of-towners, and are being treated as a test run for the bigger 2015 UCI World Road Championships.

"We're losing a lot of money — I mean we are really losing a lot of money because people simply have no idea how to get around downtown," Robertson said.

The city's director of planning, Mark Olinger, said he shares Robertson's frustration, but that placing way-finding signs is more complicated than it might sound and takes time to do right. "There are a lot of moving parts," he said, noting that bad signs can be worse than none at all.

Olinger expects mockups of signs to go up downtown and on the Boulevard this week. And he promises that permanent signs will be ready for the World Road Championships in September 2015.

So, maybe just three years late.

"We're waiting," Robertson said.

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