Post B: Walk Your City

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by Marcella Cheng

In the hustle and bustle of today’s urban world, it is difficult to choose walking over the speed and convenience of cars and transport. Indeed, we have seen a spike in vehicle usage by an incredible 123% in the Oceanic region alone from 2005 – 2014 (OICA, 2017), which means that less and less people are choosing alternative methods of travel. Vehicle usage seems to be especially popular in wealthier urban areas; the same areas in which obesity has risen parallel (WHO 2013). The “Walk Your City” campaign aims to rectify this and encourage whole communities to “get out of the cars and explore the place under their own power” by employing a variety of signs that help raise awareness of the surrounding environment.

The project was begun in 2012 by a recently graduated American student, Matt Tomasulo as a way to help citizens take back urban streets for pedestrians and cyclists (Teasdale, 2015), rather than vehicle users. Essentially, Tomasulo arranged for a series of well-designed signs to go up in busy intersections of his home city to point passers-by to nearby attractions (such as the local coffee shop, a hiking trail or a movie theatre) that they could walk to instead of drive.

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This “guerrilla wayfinding” was a way Tomasulo hoped could give local residents “the power to create change quickly, easily, and cheaply”. While shortly after the project’s debut, the signs were taken down due to council violations, they’re now back up and even supported by local governments across the world, along with donations from Knight Foundation and their Kickstarter campaign.

The signs were made available on the Walk Your City website, where anyone from anywhere can make and design their own signs, that are printed and sent back to be put up in local cities. These signs also have a QR code embedded into them that can be scanned with one’s phone to download a more detailed map of the area. This idea of “hactivism” that is currently trending worldwide means that local citizens can “retrofit” their communities into a closer, social, and healthier community (Teasdale, 2015). In short, it is a fantastic example of small ways individuals can work together to create the change they want to see in their world.

Check out their website at https://walkyourcity.org/ !

References:

Goodyear, S. 2015, DIY Wayfinding Signs Are About to Go Mainstream, viewed 15 Feb 2017,
<< http://www.citylab.com/design/2015/02/diy-wayfinding-signs-are-about-to-go-mainstream/386081/ >>

Teasdale, A. 2015, A very good sign, viewed 15 Feb 2017,
<< http://www.smart-magazine.com/en/walk-your-city-project-raleigh/ >>

World Health Organization. 2013, Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, viewed 15 Feb 2017, << http://www.who.int/gho/urban_health/physiological-risk-factors/women_obesity/en/ >>

OICA. 2017, Vehicles In Use, viewed 15 Feb 2017,
<< http://www.oica.net/category/vehicles-in-use/ >>