Painting arrows on the side of roads to mark routes is a common practice of many cycling clubs and other ride organizers. The arrows help keep group rides organized, safe and efficient. Following painted arrows, when they are properly laid out, is far easier than trying to follow cue sheets. And that’s important when groups participating in organized rides become large. Clear markings help to avoid confusion, sudden stops and wrong turns, all of which can create unsafe conditions in a group ride.
Of course, after the rides are over, the arrows remain. This makes it easy to follow popular routes even when there is no organized ride. The arrows can also serve as telltale signs of great cycling roads, particularly when arrows from several rides/clubs are clustered together on the same roads. The leftover arrows are a concern, however, for some towns.
In particular, controversy over the arrows has bubbled up in Carlisle and Boxford over the past several months and these towns have worked to create or enforce rules to control them. Last week Carlisle Board of Selectmen adopted some new guidelines to control how arrows are painted on their roads. The guidelines, formed with the input of cyclists and follow to some degree the same guidelines used by the Charles River Wheelmen. This seems like a pretty reasonable solution and far better than the confrontation between the town of Boxford and the North Shore Cyclists last summer.
Hopefully the Carlisle solution can be used as a model should this issue come up in other cities and towns around the state.
Photo Credit: Robyn Gallagher