Road Open to – The Sign of Our Times

Isabelle on adapted cycle by Road Open to sign

4 minute read

Have you spotted the new ‘Road Open to…’ signs? And do you know how are they connected to us at Brightwayz? These engaging, positive green signs designed by London cycling advocates, feature various characters walking, cycling or rolling along in a wheelchair. They are a gentle, fun contrast to the stark red traditional ‘Road Closed’ signs which they often accompany on the planter street filters popping up these days across London and beyond.

More Open Than Ever

The idea is that roads which restrict motor vehicle traffic are not actually closed… they are more open than ever to people walking, cycling, scooting, rolling, skating, horse riding, playing or even pogo-sticking!

Engagement Tool

The official ‘Road Closed’ red signs don’t get across these positive benefits… and promoting positive benefits of street changes is essential if we want to get community acceptance. So these unofficial signs – which are actually a publicity and engagement tool rather than a road sign – are serving that purpose.

The Story Behind the Signs

So where did these clever green signs come from? A group of active travel advocates in London – Simon Still, Rob Johnstone and Sarah Berry came up with the concept earlier this summer during lockdown. Sarah drew up the original design on Illustrator using Adobe images. Copies were printed off and attached to the new local planters being put in as street filters to give a better message than ‘road closed’. This active travel version of ‘guerilla gardening’ started to spread throughout other parts of London as the design was made freely available and can be used by other advocates in other areas.

Brightwayz on Board

The signs were well-received and already gaining popularity when we got involved. For those of you who don’t know us, here at Brightwayz social enterprise we have been working with local authorities and schools for over 16 years to support active travel campaigns with resources and information. (Many know us as Brightkidz).

Community Engagement for Local Authorities

We realised these signs are a perfect way to support active travel too. As the team who came up with the idea are keen to see the signs spread and be adopted by local authorities as a community engagement resource they were keen for us to work with them and use our platform to help make it happen.

Signs for Sale

So we launched the signs as products in our range – in a choice of Correx board or the more durable and reflective foamex version and made them easily available to order online or by purchase order. We have already paid for the extended Adobe licences on the design icons which means we are able to offer the signs for sale.

Sarah said of her design: “For me, the most important thing is that no one is forced to re-invent the wheel. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and other changes to street space are being implemented all across the country, and my hope is that those who support these changes can easily collaborate and help one another. By making these signs available, Brightwayz has made that possible.”

Community Collaboration Product

This product came from the community and is about accessibility and enabling all to safely enjoy our streets. Sarah and her fellow advocates who came up with the idea are not accepting any payment for their efforts. Therefore together we decided it would be appropriate to donate 10% of sales income from the signs to Wheels for Wellbeing charity. (The rest of the income is used to cover costs and should there be any profit it will get ploughed back into Brightwayz as an asset-locked social enterprise to support active travel campaigns).

About Wheels for Wellbeing

Wheels for Wellbeing (WfW) is an award-winning charity supporting disabled people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the benefits of cycling. Director Isabelle Clement who is seen above on her adapted cycle enjoying the benefits of this ‘open street’ said,

“We’d like to give our thanks to the team over at Brightwayz, who are very kindly donating 10% of the “Road Open to…” sign sales proceeds to Wheels for Wellbeing! As an organisation that works alongside cycling campaigners across the UK, advocating for more accessible active travel infrastructure and networks, we’re so pleased to see that Brightwayz has collaborated with the London cyclists who created the sign to enable wider distribution – and all for the benefit of local communities!”

Different Versions of the ‘Road Open to…’ Sign

Looking ahead here at Brightwayz we are already developing the original concept to add more design options to the range we offer. The signs started in London but can be adapted to reflect any environment. As they are campaign engagement tools rather than official road signs this gives them the flexibility for them to be adapted to local needs.

The horses in the photo below are the clues that a ‘countryside’ version is needed too… that’s on the way featuring dog walkers too.

Running is often overlooked as a mode of active travel for an everyday journey. The campaign coalition #RunSome is about inspiring more of us to #RunSome everyday journeys… not fast, just to get there. For them having a runner on a sign will help promote this concept.

Girls and Boys Come Out to Play

Sometimes streets are ‘closed’, ahem I mean ‘open’, for different reasons. Play Streets are gaining popularity as a way of temporarily giving children and their communities space to play and meet on their own streets, and we are working with PlayMeetStreet North Tyneside, part of the Playing Out movement, to get some foldaway adapted signs ready for their schemes.


Alison Stenning from PlayMeetStreet said “We just love the idea of signalling all the wonderful playful things that can happen for neighbours when roads are closed to cars”.

The Summer of Active Travel

Those of us working or volunteering in the active travel sector sure have been busy this summer. Covid19 lockdown led to many trying cycling for the first time or after a break of decades. By walking and cycling more we are helping overcome the challenges of reduced public transport/car sharing capacity whilst increasing our resilience to illness. Making streets safer for us to do so is key. And helping people realise how the necessary changes to their streets will benefit many is essential… which is what this sign does.

So it really is the ‘sign of our times’.

Road Open signs available to purchase from Brightwayz and via the Brightkidz e-shop. Or contact us for information.

Beyond the Bicycle, with Wheels for Wellbeing

2 minute read

You don’t need two working legs to cycle. I learnt that on holiday last year in Alkmaar when a gentleman, probably in his eighties, whizzed past me on his bike – just as I noticed he had one metal, artificial leg. I was astounded and extremely impressed. Of course the Dutch, being the Dutch, didn’t bat an eye.

The misconception that cycling is just for the super sporty, able-bodied and young is something we need to get over as a society. Making cycling accessible and attractive for everyone means many more people can benefit and for those with a disability the benefits are even greater. It’s not just for fun as it enables mobility, independence and both physical and mental well-being. Some people can’t walk very far, or at all, but they can cycle miles – what freedom!

Wheels for Wellbeing is a charity who are determined to show that anyone can enjoy cycling, given the right equipment, support and environment. They provide cycling sessions for over 1000 people a year with a wide range of disabilities in south London thanks to their wide range of specialist cycling equipment. Their impact is much more far-reaching as they are considered the expert voice on disability cycling, provide guidance for purchasing specialist cycles, campaign to have cycles recognisable as disability aids and have published a world-leading Guide to Inclusive Cycling – aimed at local authorities but really for anyone.

Here’s a look at some of the kinds of adapted cycles they use in their sessions:

Hand Cycles

Who needs legs to cycle? A hand cycle is powered by… your hands. It may be clipped on to the front of a wheelchair and gives great freedom.

hand cycles

Adapted Bicycles

Standard bikes can be adapted for specific needs such as with grip aids and one-handed brakes.

adapted bicycles

Recumbent Tricycles

Sit back and enjoy. There is less pressure on the knees and hips and
Balance isn’t an issue.

Trikes/Tricycles

No need to worry about balancing. Trikes are gaining popularity for able-bodied cyclists too, particularly with the older generation. Did you see our blog with Hollywood star Olivia de Havilland on her trike at the grand age of 103 (actually today is her 104th birthday)?

Cycles Made for Two

A wheelchair tandem enables a rider to remain in their wheelchair. With a duet bike one rider can sit in the front and enjoy feeling the breeze – this is my absolute favourite photo with that look of joy on her face.

Duet cycling

Side by Side Cycles

Easy on your back and you can have a chat as you go along. One rider can steer whilst, for example, a visually impaired rider just pedals and gets to enjoy cycling.

side by side cycles

Been inspired? You will be even more so if you check out their video and hear from the cyclists themselves of the difference it makes to their lives.

Investing for All

The government is investing billions over the next few years in improving our cycling and walking infrastructure to get more people travelling in active ways. This is in a bid to address our climate emergency (transport is the greatest source of co2 in the UK), poor air quality (which kills nearly 40,000 annually in the UK), the devastating number of road casualties (on average 5 people every day), our obesity crisis and enable us to ‘build back better’ after Covid-19.  Effective investment will have a really big potential impact on improving the lives of those with disabilities and their families – so it is so important now more than ever to ensure their needs are addressed throughout.

Better for All

If engineers and planners involved in designing our infrastructure for cycling take into account the needs of disabled cyclists, it will improve design for everyone. Entrances into parks may have staggered metal barriers which are tricky for an adapted cycle to get around – if they are taken out to meet their accessibility needs it also makes it better for anyone else who comes along with an extra wide cycle, cargo bike, or even double buggy or mobility scooter.

barriers to cycling

Cycle Racks for All

Installing cycle racks? Don’t just think about traditional bicycles – ensure they cater for adapted cycles by including a low bar to lock to and enough ‘footprint’ space for their extra size – good for anyone with a cargo bike too.

If many people with disabilities are seen cycling, it is likely to draw many more people of all abilities to cycling as it quells that misconception of cycling being just for the super-sporty, able-bodied and young.

Meanwhile our Dutch friend, I hope, will have many more years spent happily cycling through the streets of Alkmaar.

I hope this has inspired those in a role developing fully-inclusive active travel initiatives. Please take a look at the Wheels for Wellbeing Guide to Inclusive Cycling and see how you can embed their principles in your role. 

We are a UK-based social enterprise promoting safe, active, sustainable everyday travel for all. We’ve been doing this for children for over 16 years under the name Brightkidz… and now the adults get a turn as we have just launched our Brightwayz side.

We offer an increasing range of products to support active travel campaigns. As an asset-locked business all profits are ploughed back and used to support our social aims. We look forward to providing many more useful blogs and resources to support the great work being done to engage more people in active travel.

Photo credits: Wheels for Wellbeing (@Wheels4Well), Samuel Shoesmith (metal barriers @samuelshoesmith)

Cycling for the Young at Heart… on a Trike

2 minute read

EDIT 27/07/20: This blog was originally posted just one month before Olivia de Havilland died age 104. Not only a great Hollywood legend but a wonderful role model for cycling at all ages. RIP.

If you think that cycling is just for the young – think again. There is no limit to the age at which you can cycle. These ladies are in good company – and join the ranks of popular broadcaster Gyles Brandreth (think Countdown) and Hollywood legend Olivia de Havilland in their favoured mode of transport.

Olivia de Havilland is one of the greats. You may have seen her in the Oscar-winning Gone With the Wind. In those early acting days she rode her bike… as many did. What’s really wonderful is that she is just about to turn 104 and is still cycling – nowadays on her trike. The first photo here (posted on twitter by Larry Karaszewski @karaszewski) shows her cycling in Paris just last year – still carrying herself with beauty and glamour.

So when I talk about ‘cycling’  I don’t just mean ‘riding a bicycle’; I mean riding a trike too (in fact there are lots of other types of cycle too which I’m saving for another day). In recent months, maybe thanks to the quiet street space during lockdown, more mature cyclists have been taking to the saddle and tricycles are growing in popularity.

You probably rode a trike when you were a child… for me it’s one of those very vague, long ago memories which stirs a great feeling of nostalgia way before the exciting moment when I spotted my first bike under the Christmas tree. Somehow those early day trike memories make me feel comforted and secure with a great sense of fun thrown in.

The security felt on a trike by a child who has not yet learnt to ride a bike, or as an adult of any age who prefers this more stable mode of travel is increasingly important as we get older. Of course tricycles are not just for those in their early years or golden years… they are good for all ages. However, as they give much better stability than bicycles, especially when carrying your shopping, they are a great solution for those less steady on a bicycle.

The availability of electric bicycles also makes cycling easier than in the past and open to more people – and electric trikes are available as well. If you’ve weak knees or have hip problems, an electric trike (or e-trike) will give you the power and the stability to really go places… and carry your shopping, picnic or whatever with you.

Gyles Brandreth has recently taken to three wheels and has been sharing his experiences through his twitter posts (@gylesB1). Being the great wordsmith that he is, he has named his trike Zephyr – a light breeze. Very fitting.

The two ladies featured in our main photograph are from the Republic of Ireland where trike sales are really booming. 

“It’s a game changer for my mother’s mobility and health, I’m sure it’ll change her world” said Richard Silke (@silkerichard) who provided this photo of his mother and her neighbour.  “My mother is the type of person who knows half of Galway! I reckon it’s only a matter of time before all the bridge club and Salthill/Knocknacarra Active Retirement are on trikes.”

They are also great role models because – although they’re not from Hollywood – they still look gorgeous and glam. I mean look at those pearls! Seeing these ladies out on their trikes having so much fun and dressed so normally for their everyday trips must surely be an inspiration to others like them.

While we are mentioning clothing, this is a good example of how cycling, or triking, can be done in everyday clothes. High vis and helmets aren’t needed for a gentle ride on a trike, at low speed, on safe routes during daytime. In more challenging circumstances however, eg if  out at night, people on trikes may choose to get kitted out brightly so people driving can see them more easily. It’s personal choice and the need depends on your own situation which you can judge – if you are happier in a helmet, then use one.

So if anyone says they are too old to cycle, or their knees are too weak, or their balance too wobbly, please tell them about Olivia, Gyles and the ladies in Ireland and encourage them to give triking a go.

Perhaps surprisingly, we are not trying to sell trikes. We are a UK-based social enterprise promoting safe, active, sustainable everyday travel for all. We’ve been doing this for children for over 16 years under the name Brightkidz… and now the adults get a turn as we have just launched our Brightwayz side.

We do supply an increasing range of products to support active travel campaigns. As an asset-locked business all profits are ploughed back and used to support our social aims. We look forward to providing many more useful blogs and resources to support the great work you are all doing to engage more people in active travel.

Photo credits: Richard Silke, Gyles Brandreth/twitter, Larry Karaszewski/twitter, Pexel (girl on trike)