Getting Folks to Read the Signs and Follow the Rules
You’re driving to your favorite trail and whipping right on by the kiosk or starting place with all the signs of do’s and do not’s. We all do it. And we do it because we know our trail and the rules. Unfortunately, not everyone knows the rules. But they are sure “blind” to signs way too often.
I spend a large part of my time educating folks on how to recreate responsibly – doing it right while enjoying the great outdoors. But the one thing that frosts me is how some people do not seem to see signs, and therefor suffer from what I call sign blindness – the inability to see what is in front of them and follow the rules!
Do Not Feed the Wildlife
How many times have you seen someone feeding the wildlife despite a sign 10 feet away to the contrary? Think about the tracks you see of a mountain biker or dirt biker who just had to get off the trail and leave an imprint where it did not belong in spite of brochures, signs and laws to the contrary. And how about the citified lifted truck that rips through a meadow when the huge public lands sign specifically forbids that?
Sign Blindness is a disease that can ruin our public lands and special places for everyone. We can help cure it. I hope you will join me and include (as appropriate) in your wheeling, club events, writings notes, tips, social networks, and suggestions that encourage responsible use of public lands and prevent abuse or damage of our resources.
Not following signs leads to gates and closures. We must cure sign blindness to avoid more restrictions.
There are many ways to help avoid this.
The Simple Code
I like to call it the outdoor code of ethics:
1. Stay on the roads and trails no matter your choice of conveyance.
2. Obey the laws and rules and be sure to set the example for those behind you.
3. Stop and read the posted signs and kiosks as you travel the backcountry. Make an obvious point of parking by the signs to read them. Know and follow the rules.
4. Always pick up trash even when it is not yours. Set the example.
5. Say something (without jeopardizing your safety) to people being idiots and ruining it for all of us. In the worst cases, I do not hesitate to call law enforcement.
We Can Cure Sign Blindness
Sign Blindness is curable if we all become obvious in our “stop and read” efforts. Take that extra minute to stop and read the signs, especially if in public view! Others will hopefully follow suit. Carry brochure copies of the trail rules and signs, and hand them out as needed. Take pics of the signs at trail heads and post them in your social networks.
Remind folks of the rules. Let’s get people reading the signs and helping us save trails as we cure sign blindness.