As I was leaving an event this afternoon, I noticed a “Walk Chapel Hill” sign on the sidewalk. While the information on the sign was helpful in terms of finding my way around to various landmarks (e.g., that the ArtsCenter is an 8 minute walk), it really communicated three things:
- The town of Chapel Hill recognizes that there are many walkers on its streets.
- The town places importance on the comfort, safety, and mobility of those walkers.
- The town is designed (and hopefully will continue to be designed and improved) with walkability in mind. Among other things that means pedestrian-sized and pedestrian-oriented street infrastructure and development density.
Thanks to the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership for the great signage!
There are no national standards for pedestrian wayfinding (the technical term for signs that help people walking to find their way), but there are many best practices and firms that specialize in helping cities and towns do this well. I can’t find who may have helped the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership with these. If you’d like to learn more, Alta Planning gives a nice overview on their site and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has also written about the concept.