20210601 ●



Adobe Illustation, Adobe Photoshop, Google Forms

Team Members

Qian Zhaocheng, Annika Cayanga, Miriam Pion, Natacha Dubois, Jasmine Carlucci-Tanguay.


City of Ottawa


Alex Culley, City of Ottawa. Sam Roberts, City of Ottawa. Caitlyn Prévost, City of Ottawa. Jed Looker, Professor Danielle Evong, Research & Ethics Board



About The Project

The City of Ottawa has helped implement cycling as a mode of transportation by using signage and pavement markings to provide a safe experience for everyone. This study conducts research on why the pathway etiquette policies and signs are currently not effective, what can be improved about the signs and why there are continuing conflicts with cyclists and pedestrians sharing the same space. One thing we will be looking at will be the frustrations and experiences of using a pathway.

The study will look at what is working and not working with the current signage and pavement markings. Through this study we targeted people who are above the age of 16 who use the pathways in the city of Ottawa. The goal, ultimately, will be to improve the experience of using the pathway. After three deliberations with the client and gaining feedback from two focus groups, we were able to create a prototype that combined client input, design principles and accessibility.

Research Goal

The goal of this study is to conduct research on why the pathway etiquette policies and signs are currently not effective, what can be improved about the signs and why there are continuing conflicts with cyclists and pedestrians sharing the same space.


The team conducted research to collect data about the effectiveness of Pathway Etiquette Policies and signs. We completed a formal application for ethics approval through the Research and Ethics Board at Algonquin College, which is attached to the appendix of this document.. Once the data collection method was approved, the team provided a survey using Google forms for cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders or anyone who uses the paths. This survey was used to gain insight on the thoughts and concerns about pathway etiquette policies and signs. The team shared this survey using email and Facebook. We then generated graphs and charts using Google Excel to compare the data retrieved from the participant’s responses. We also worked with the client to receive feedback from them throughout the design process. We took a co-design approach to work with the client, and they participated in design decisions for two meetings leading up to the final drafts. After the final drafts were made, two different prototypes were presented to focus groups. These groups provided valuable insight and feedback which we took into consideration for our final prototype.


Through this research, we were able to analyze and get a glimpse of the participants needs and frustrations when it comes to sharing a pathway. Looking at the visual data, the majority of the participants use these multipurpose pathways on a monthly basis and almost an equal amount use the pathway on a weekly basis. (Figure 2).

With the monthly basis use in mind, users said they like to walk and cycle on the paths. Results show that though most of the participants use the paths, and responses (Figure 7) show that almost half of the participants (50%) have never seen the pathway etiquette sign.

It is observed that the participants are informed of pathway etiquette, and table 3 shows that participants can name some of the policies that are on the existing sign. In table 4, the participants were asked if they had suggestions that would help them and the public understand and respect pathway etiquette. Eleven participants suggested making the signs not word based signs but rather implement a picture or illustration for a visual representation. Other participants suggested higher quantities of signs, larger signs and font.


Through our study, the team learned that the majority of the participants either use the pathways for walking or cycling. With this in mind, there are many possibilities where problems and conflicts can occur. Participant frustrations were expressed mostly between cyclists and pedestrians due to violations such as big groups of people walking in the same direction, pedestrians walking on the wrong side of the path, runners wearing headphones, speeding cyclists and two cyclists parallel to each other going towards the same direction. This suggests intended use and reaction to surroundings must be taken into consideration. It is also important that everything surrounding the shared pathway signage is evaluated such as individual characteristics, environmental conditions and road conditions.

After showing participants the pathway etiquette signage, the majority stated that the sign should be accompanied by corresponding visuals to be more easily interpreted. Some also suggested to have more consistency in the placement of the signs so that it is visible throughout the path. After careful examination of the design principles, it was conveyed through the study and the participants’ responses that contrast of colour and type and consistency of sign presence on the path would improve the design overall. The focus in terms of text and picture elements to be more visually appealing would gain more visual exposure.


Cycling has grown larger over the years, and continues to grow rapidly. Bike-sharing pathways have had a lot of mixed reviews. When cyclists and pedestrians share a path, they do not always adhere to the signs and regulations. According to the Zheng (2019), violations happen frequently when it comes to sharing the same path.

This study aims to understand the frustrations and experiences of using a pathway, and what is working or not working with the current signage and pavement markings. In order to solve these frustrations, a survey was conducted with questions aimed at identifying key elements of the pathway experience. Throughout the survey, the team determined that the majority of the participants use these multipurpose pathways monthly. With more than half of them saying they use the pathways to walk or cycle. It was further determined, almost half of the participants had never seen the pathway etiquette sign. The team then discovered that the participants were informed about pathway etiquette, as well as can name some of the policies. With the participants’ suggestions in mind, the team was able to implement useful changes that will improve the signs. After careful deliberations with our clients and focus group, we were able to utilize their suggestions to create an accessible and effective sign.

The team saw that the main problem was that people are not seeing or not wanting to read the sign. With the implementation of visuals on the signs, along with the change in the amount and size of text, we successfully addressed the problem. The purpose of the signage will be to help the public’s overall frustrations and make the pathways a better experience for everyone.

Reaction Show

At the end of the project, our team participated in the Reaction Show organized by the college to get the final evaluation and feedback. As the team’s illustrator, I was responsible for creating illustrations and copywriting layout for this show. The illustration is based on Parliament Hill and incorporates the theme of pathway etiquette, showing the changes and beautiful expectations of Ottawa for the new traffic signs in the future.

© Qian Design Ottawa 2021 – All Rights Reserved