Walk It Out
New wayfinding initiatives are designed to get people walking
Life / 13 Mar 2012
Walking in car-dependent cities is beginning to gain steam. As such, many pedestrians are relentlessly reliant on their mobile GPS services or, in some cases, crippled by wanderlust. In an effort to get people walking without having their heads buried in Google Maps, a number of cities are implementing new initiatives to promote transportation, tourism, and public health while helping would-be amblers find their way.
Legible London:
London may have its vaunted Tube, but when a 2006 study revealed that the city’s mapping infrastructure did not foster foot traffic, Transport for London decided that above-ground transportation needed reinvention. Enter the Legible London initiative. This directional signage system now divides the city into three parts. All maps are intuitively oriented in a “head’s-up” direction (instead of using traditional North-South indicators) and provide landmarks to foster the development of natural mental maps. ‘Finder’ maps outline locations that can be reached in a five-minute stroll, while ‘Planner’ maps highlight destinations 15 minutes away. Tourists should now have a much easier time seeing the sites than did the Griswold family.
Though Urbanscale founder Adam Greenfield laments that most public information systems are “woefully underutilized,” the potential of what could be is igniting anticipation for the firm’s next project. A collaborative endeavor with Helsinki firm Nordkapp, Urbanflow is a pedestrian wayfinding display that integrates valuable feedback about the city through an interactive information service. The system communicates everything from directions to “ambient” data, such as updates on public transportation, traffic, parking, air quality, and the like. The designers see it as a playful digital layer that will help people become more aware of their environment, thereby promoting efficient living and tourism and improving the overall quality of city life.
Walk Raleigh:
The challenge of urban wayfinding in unfamiliar cities leads to tourist confusion, traffic congestion and other civic setbacks. While some metropolises are easier to navigate than others, most urban pedestrians could use an occasional point in the right direction. A group of upright citizens from Raleigh, North Carolina decided to place a guerilla style attack on tactical urbanism by posting signs, at major intersections, encouraging people to walk. Though the signage of the Walk Raleigh initiative was put up illegally, the city ultimately supported the mission and allowed it to stay. Seeking to replicate this success, organizers have moved on to their next project, NYC’s North Is That Way.
©The Intelligence Group