County to reduce sign clutter on American River Parkway

Sacramento County officials propose updated American River Parkway signage to reduce clutter and send clearer messages.
Sacramento County officials propose updated American River Parkway signage to reduce clutter and send clearer messages. Sacramento Bee file

Sacramento’s prized wilderness getaway, the American River Parkway, is suffering from its own type of urban clutter. Nearly 1,500 signs line the 23-mile parkway section in Sacramento County, some outdated, some confusing, and some so scratched they’re unreadable.

Saying it’s time to reduce clutter and send clearer messages to users – including that they should collect their dogs’ droppings – county parks officials this week unveiled a draft plan for new signs they plan to start installing this summer.

The signs, many of them colored brown to be less jarring in the wooded environment, will be grouped mainly at parkway access areas and park sites within the parkway.

“We want to convey the message clearly with as few signs as possible,” county parks chief Jeff Leatherman said. “We’re really looking at the places where people enter the parkway, where there’s pedestrian access, parking lots, driveways. Further into the parkway, we’ll take a more minimal signage approach.”

Leatherman said many old signs will be taken down, although he isn’t sure how many. The process of installing new signs is expected to take several years as funding becomes available.

The new signs will make it clear, among other rules, that leashes are required for dogs, and that dog owners are expected to pick up after their pets.

“The idea is, come use the parkway, but leave a light footprint,” Leatherman said.

County officials have not nailed down exactly how to word several signs addressing one of the parkway’s main friction points: how cyclists, pedestrians, runners and others should share the recreation trail.

Leatherman said the new sign manual does not change any of the existing rules of the road or generally agreed-upon voluntary behaviors, but he said the new signs can make it more clear how various users are expected to interact.

The county plans to paint messages on the asphalt trail every half mile telling joggers and walkers to stay to the left shoulder of the trail when possible. Leatherman said his panel of community advisers decided on the half-mile distance because of a high number of casual trail users, including families, who typically only walk or ride a short distance on the trail. “Casual users, families, may use only a mile of the trail, so the half-mile is more appropriate.”

The county is looking for opinions on whether signs should instruct pedestrians to walk single file when passing others. The county is looking for more opinions on whether signs should instruct cyclists to ride single file when passing and to call out “on your left” before passing.

The asphalt stenciling will post the speed limit of 15 mph for cyclists and note that skateboards are prohibited.

New signs also will likely note that children should wear life jackets when playing in the river.

A draft version of the sign manual is available here.

County officials will hold two workshops to discuss the proposed sign changes. The first is at the American River Parkway Advisory Committee meeting on Friday, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., at Streng Volunteer Center, 5700 Arden Way, in Carmichael, inside the entrance to the William B. Pond Recreation Area.

Another meeting is set for Feb. 26 before the county Parks and Recreation Commission, 6:30 p.m. at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Ancil Hoffman Regional Park.

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.