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Car Free in Carrboro

Living without a car in small town NC

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signs

A sign that makes me say “heck yes”

A short & sweet post on this gorgeous Friday, folks. I’ll share with you this sign (see featured image for this post, above) that I saw last weekend while visiting Richmond. I found this gem on the entrance to the pedestrian bridge to Belle Isle.

I just love 1) the expressions on the little stick people’s faces, and 2) the admonishment at the bottom: “In an accident, moving vehicles are at fault.” Heck yes.

If you’re ever in Richmond, make it a point to visit Belle Isle, it’s a joy. Maybe that’s because of this sign! (Hah). Or, maybe that’s because in addition to the captivating views of the James River and shady paths, there are no cars on the island – just pedestrians and the occasional cyclist. Something to think about…

Oh, and for those of you curious about how I got to Richmond from Carrboro without a car:

Trip: Chapel Hill, NC to Richmond, VA (round trip)
Total trip time: 5 hours x2
Total trip distance: 164.2 miles x2
Mode: Bus
Line: 405 and Megabus
Frequency: 405 ~every 60 minutes and Megabus ~4x per day
Cost*: $25 Megabus roundtrip + $2.25 GoTriangle 405 + $17 Uber** = $44.25
Level of crowding: Very
Trip quality: 3 of 5 stars
+ for cost, ability to actually get to Richmond by bus, and convenience of Durham station
– for Megabus delay, random stop halfway through the ride to Richmond, and comfort

*New field
**When I returned back to Durham Station on Labor Day Monday, the buses weren’t running because of the holiday, so I had to Uber back to Carrboro.

 

“Guerrilla Wayfinding” Signs in Durham

I went to Durham last week to see a Durham Bulls baseball game. On my way to the stadium (by the way, check out my tweets from my journey on the 405 bus at #carfreeincarrboro) I noticed these signs:

20160830_185100

How cool are those? You are able to tell, in an instant, something that even Google Maps takes a bit of searching to find you – where you are in relation to the nearest attractions. You might not know you were looking for jazz, but my goodness, now you have to go check it out! I imagine businesses would support these as well – especially if they are hidden from sight behind bulkier buildings or around a corner.

They are printed on the cheap on corrugated plastic and can be updated or rearranged easily. They are a supplement to Durham’s official wayfinding signs which point to city destinations and denote districts. I’d call these unofficial plastic signs “guerrilla wayfinding.”

I was describing these to a fellow Department of City & Regional Planning (DCRP) student and wondering who was responsible. He informed me that the folks in Durham copied these guerrilla wayfinding signs from Hillsborough, and that the ones in Hillsborough were put there as part of a Masters Project from a DCRP grad back in 2012. I haven’t been able to find a record of his or her Masters Project, but once I do I’ll link to it here.

Around Town: “Walk Chapel Hill” Signs

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:

Walk Chapel Hill Sign 1

  1. The town of Chapel Hill recognizes that there are many walkers on its streets.
  2. The town places importance on the comfort, safety, and mobility of those walkers.
  3. 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.

Walk Chapel Hill Sign 2

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