brett boston

Innovative solutions for “encouraging” walkable cities

If you want to be a walk-able city you have to provide more information for walkers. This involves standardizing signage and providing visitor and residents a sense of the distance to the destination.

I recall being in London on a business trip with an extra day to spend.  After visiting some new sites, I deciding to go to 221 B Baker Street. This was in the 1990 (pre-smart phone for the youngsters reading this) – the “dark ages” for having up-to-date information and digital anything. Paper maps were the only form of navigation. Getting there involved reading a stylized paper city map of London.  The mapmakers had not seen fit to include 221 B Baker Street, which made for extra challenges.

After a 3-mile walk (that only appeared as inches on the paper map) I arrived at the correct street address.  Unfortunately, this was before anyone decided to erect a museum or put a plaque on the wall indicating the world-famous detective that once had a residence here. The problem, according to Wikipedia, is that the street numbers for the location of the residence were changed in the 1930s. The block of odd numbers from 215 to 229 was assigned to an Art Deco building known as Abbey House, constructed in 1932 for the Abbey Road Building Society, which the society and its successor (which subsequently became Abbey National plc) occupied until 2002. The residence of Sherlock Holmes was not recognized as such.  It is now.

So without any map application or a smart phone, and without any Internet information for the change in address, I arrived at the correct “address”, but was not at the correct “location”.  A long trek that came up short and deprived me of a visit to my favorite detective’s museum. Good exercise, but a disappointment.

Every city in the world has a similar problem for visitors.  How do city employees recognize all the locations that visitors might be interested in? Further, how do they provide signage the helps create a walk-able city? Check out this new solution for signage; one that helps walkers enjoy the visit.

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