Encourage people to walk.
Walking is accessible to all social groups, all ages, religions and cultures. Walking is healthy and free. Walking along the city is useful for businesses and for the local economy, since the center is especially dedicated to trade and recreation for citizens and tourists. An improvement of the wayfinding system, the feasibility and use of information, generates a more inviting experience for everyone. Walking is good for the environment since it is a form of sustainable transportation, it has little or no environmental impact and does not cause pollution or accidents. A pedestrians-only signs’ system would have a lower visual impact on the roads because a lot of information about vehicular traffic could be reduced or removed resulting in numerous advantages for public transportation and less congestion. More people on the streets also create a safer community: the more “eyes” the less risk of theft and assault and therefore a safer environment.
Provide a better service
Consistent information throughout all parts of the journey is the main requirement to encourage people to walk. If we are to consider the needs of walkers in general, such as tourists, residents, visitors and customers, we can extrapolate some principles as a starting point to activate a common program. All types of hikers wish:
-to know where to look for information when they need it.
- to understand the way in which information is communicated.
- to get the information you need in an intuitive and uncomplicated manner.
Develop mental maps
In order to encourage citizens or visitors to walk, one has to build a system that develops the mental maps of each of us as much as possible to make it easier to plan an itinerary . When people know which is the best itinerary, how long does it take and what are its difficulties they are indeed more willing to consider the idea of walking.
How do we build our mental maps?
We develop” place cells” in our mind which correspond to physical locations in the environment. We gradually assemble the mental map of places, routes, and finally of areas. The mental map we generate is not strictly geographical, but it revolves around the relationship between the locations and the paths we memorize, to the extent in which they are relevant to our needs. A study on the functions of the Hippocampo, the brain region of human beings, shows that the latter is wider in taxi drivers.
The best way to support people in building their mental maps(whether for a tour or just a journey through a city) is to rely on the phases that follow one another naturally in the development of a pedestrian knowledge.
There are generally three factors involved in our mind mapping:
- The place we are in
- The place we are going to
- The way to get from one place to another
This “linking zone” process is one of the keys in building landmarks that help people build their mental maps. Each of us begins with specific points of arrival and specific destinations-which constitute our “entry” into the road system (“nodes”)-and seeks the paths between these points. We build knowledge of the area surrounding the node (“location”), and gradually of the groupings of locations(“neighborhoods”). Step by step we build our knowledge and thus expand our mental maps, until we have all information we need. Once everyone has started the connection between the known zones on foot from one area to another by connecting all destinations within 12-15 minutes’ walk, the general understanding of the place grows considerably. Thus, paradoxically, a signage system which is built to develop the mental maps of each of us as much as possible, will be more effective the sooner we can do without it.
A cultural change: on foot in 5-10 minutes
People are open to the idea of walking if they feel that the journey is manageable, also based on the amount of time it will probably take. This means that we can get a considerable advantage in providing information on the option to walk from the point where parking or access are located. Reliability is a key factor in the choice of walking. The journey times on foot are always reliable whereas the buses can be delayed and the traffic can influence considerably car travel time. We reported in a diagram the range distances in 5 minutes in the worst path conditions, for example, mainly uphill. The higher the degree of difficulty the reduced enclosed area. The diagram shows that by superimposing the different areas(within 5 minutes’ trip)the crossing times of the central part of the city of Arezzo are contained in few tens of minutes. This is a relevant fact that has encouraged us to develop this pedestrian mobility signs project further.
URBAN SCENOGRAPHY & SUSTAINABILITY