The point where the visitor turns off the public highway, or emerges from a coach,
railway station or other form of transport, into the specific area where the visit takes place
is important for several reasons:
– The visitor is likely to be on land under your management from now on. He or she is your guest and deserves the right treatment.
– Because the visitor is on your land there are factors of liability for damage or injury to consider. Safety issues need to be included in the design and management of the area.
– The visitors have chosen your area to visit. The facilities that help them to have an enjoyable experience that matches their expectations, and the setting in which it will take place, are all bound up together.
– The entrance may mark the point where payment has to be made by visitors and collected by site staff.
The design of the entrance itself needs some thought. If the entrance is from a public
highway on to an access road there are several factors that must be considered.
– highway safety, such as sightlines for vehicles turning out of the entrance onto the highway;
– the signs warning approaching drivers of the entrance, giving them adequate time to slow down and make the turn;
– correct surfacing at the entrance to ensure safe braking and to prevent loose material spilling on to the highway;
(a) The survey or inventory along a road, identifying features and views that
might be exploited. (b) A design for the same stretch of road develops a sequence of different views, while varying the spaces along the route.
– signs and information announcing the entrance to the area, and reassuring visitors that they have come to the right place (fear of trespassing, taking the wrong road or getting lost can be significant factors).
Additionally, some succinct information indicating what visitors can do at the area, using symbols as far as possible, is helpful. Some important safety or regulating information such as fire risk warnings, which people need to be aware of as soon as they enter the area, should also be plain to see, although most of the information should be left until deeper into the site.
Security requirements in the form of gates, barriers or cattle grids (guards), which are needed to help manage people and animals at particular periods, may also have to be accommodated. Their design will have to balance robustness with simplicity, the use of appropriate materials and ease of operation. Heavy metal barriers may be effective, but will look ugly and out of place in a wild setting, as well as being awkward for some people to use. Less intrusive methods, using reinforced lighter materials, may be possible.
The design and management of the landscape at the entrance should seek to unify the various signs and structures that may be needed; it should form an attractive threshold and set the standard for the setting of the main visitor facilities. Pruning of trees or shrubs and mowing of ground vegetation may be necessary to maintain visibility of signs and
The layout of an entrance to a facility from a highway should combine an attractive landscape with the safe movement of vehicles. Signs, sightlines and road geometry must conform with safety requirements to reduce the risks of accidents in often unfamiliar landscapes and foreign countries.
sightlines needed for access.
The capacity of the entrance should be based on expected visitor levels, length of stay and distribution over time as well as the type of vehicles likely to be using it. A significant length of the access road in the vicinity of the highway may need to be double lane to facilitate passing and queuing, depending on the traffic on the highway at peak time. Large vehicles, such as camper vans, trailer caravans and recreation vehicles (RVs), take up more road width and length and so may need greater queuing space.
If payment has to be made at the entrance, as is frequently the case in national parks and similar places, two-way traffic segregation, temporary parking ahead of the pay station and an exit loop for those visitors who change their minds at the last minute, may be needed. This should prevent congestion at the entrance during peak periods or complicated reversing to turn around across the flow of traffic. The location of pay stations should be far enough down the entrance road to prevent queuing back onto the public highway (see Chapter 5).
Pedestrian entrances should contain broadly the same elements: a gateway with signs and information, perhaps a barrier for closing the site, or special gates to keep animals out or in. If the entrance also acts as an exit to a highway then some sort of deflector device to prevent people, especially children, from inadvertently walking or running out into the traffic will be advisable. Management of vegetation and structures, and good visibility into the area, will maintain the sense of welcome and help to allay fears in those areas where some people are worried about being attacked or mugged. Signs to the entrance from the main directions of approach will usually be helpful to the visitor, as will reassurance at the entrance with a sign or nameboard welcoming them.
All entrances of this sort should be barrier free to people of all abilities. Any gates or other structures required to prevent animal access or unwanted use by vehicles such as motorcycles should be designed to be accessible by wheelchairs, strollers/pushchairs, small children etc. This means good surfacing, avoiding kerbs from highways and overly steep gradients (see Chapter 9).
The main entrance sign may be part of a sign system that includes the threshold signs described previously. The same design principles apply, although the sign may convey more information about the area. If the information is necessarily more than can be taken in at a glance while driving past, the sign should be beside the road in a lay-by or turnout, allowing first-time visitors to pull in for a few moments without holding up others who want to drive on. Ideally, the information should be designed so that drivers and passengers can read it without leaving the car. The height at which the sign is erected, the amount of information, the size of the typeface and clarity of maps need to be suitable for reading over 2 or 3 yards/metres from inside a car.