Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Finding the Way (I)

Integral to attracting more feet on the street is the concept of wayfinding--creating an environment that identifies logical traffic patterns so as to enable people to move easily from one spot to another without confusion.

You may remember from yesterday's post that one of consultant Paula Ree's recommendations was to "rationalize signage and improve wayfaring to help shoppers navigate downtown and find retail locations," a suggestion that found strong support among local merchants. About two years ago, the BIA participated in a working group that developed an icon based signage system to support wayfinding downtown. It's taken two years, but the first element of that system--traffic signs sporting the new icons--has been manufactured and is being installed.

We're currently working with the Downtown Merchants Group and other partners to submit a grant proposal to the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council that would fund another piece of this system--the first pedestrian "flags" or sign standards. Our vision is to develop a system that would link iconic points of interest--say, our ten great public spaces.

The City of Seattle has undertaken some excellent work to develop a wayfinding system deploying well-designed kiosks (see picture, below right) into a comprehensive system. Seattle's not the only place that's done this right, of course.

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