Elected Officials

Create a Pedestrian Wayfinding System

Pedestrian wayfinding systems are navigational systems that help pedestrians determine where they are and where they need to go to reach a destination. Traditionally consisting of signs, wayfinding systems can now also involve GPS systems, web connectivity, and mobile technology. Wayfinding systems can be designed and implemented formally by municipalities and business improvement districts, or informally by walking advocates.

Guidance
  • Create distinct, visible, consistent design for wayfinding signage
  • Post signs on both sides of the street or trail along major walking routes
  • Orient maps so that whatever direction the pedestrian is facing is at the top; indicate the orientation with the underlined phrase “You Are Here” where the pedestrian is within the map, and place an upward arrow under it
  • Define distances by the time needed to reach them (e.g., “It’s a 15-minute walk away” or circles encompassing destinations within a 5-, 10-, or 15-minute walk)
  • On signs with maps, create a standard prioritization system to limit the number of landmarks identified
  • Illustrate the facades of important landmarks on maps to help orient pedestrians
  • Include indexes of major landmarks
  • Make public data available to private organizations to develop smartphone applications (“apps”) at no cost to governmental agencies. QR codes can be incorporated to improve information delivery and reduce visual clutter
Benefits
  • Helps pedestrians overcome the hurdle of distance perception
  • Increases foot traffic
  • Increases tourism
  • Increases commerce
  • Helps encourage different transportation choices
Considerations
  • Potential to create visual clutter for pedestrians and/or drivers
  • Significant investment of resources and time
Where to Use It
  • Central business districts
  • Tourist districts
  • Office and academic campuses
  • Retail districts and shopping malls
  • In-between areas outside defined districts
Professional Consensus
  • 2009 MUTCD Section 2D.50 contains specific provisions about Community Wayfinding guide signs
  • Multiple states have created community wayfinding guidelines and standards, including:
    • Florida
    • California
    • North Carolina
Examples

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.