Pedestrian Wayfinding Initiative in Chinatown

Posted on: February 15th, 2013 at 6:09 am by
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[Photo: DOT]Some 52 million tourists arrived on the city shores in 2012, a record number up 2.1% from 2011. To accomodate the forever-lost hordes of map-wielding visitors, the city is aiming to unleash a new easy-to-read streetside navigation system.

While there are currently maps in the touristy spots, there’s a lack of standardization. DOT wants to change this. The goal is to streamline maps with the “Pedestrian Wayfinding Initiative.”

DOT officials briefed Community Board 3 the other night. Here are the nuts and bolts of the plan:

  • A new breed of signs will join the family of street furniture and carry the same aesthetic as the subway system. “Path Signs” to reinforce direction; “Local Area” signs to facilitate interaction and decision points; “Neighborhood Signs” to illustrate a large swath of area; and “Finger Posts” for simpler direction.
  • Icons, not words – image-based with icons to designate landmark spots. Language will be kept at a minimum.
  • Easier navigation using pedestrian orientation – maps are not drawn “north-up,” rather are oriented based on its position on the street.
  • Distances will be quantified in walking time rather than mileage.

Additional pilot neighborhoods were selected for this wayfinding infrastructure – Fashion District, Long Island City, and Prospect Park – but Chinatown is first on deck for phase one. The furniture will trickle out starting in March, with the other locations following shortly thereafter. Phase II will include downtown and the Financial District.

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Perhaps the best bet, though, would be those “tourist lanes” chalked on the neighborhood sidewalks a few years ago.

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