It looks like the Department of Transportation has finally figured out that most New Yorkers aren’t junior Vasco da Gamas. In a move that is shockingly logical, the DOT has issued a request for proposals for a single integrated “wayfinding” system that will help pedestrians orient themselves. Imagine trudging from the subway, all out of breath because you’re out of shape, and finding a sign that points you south toward Chinatown. You save a few minutes walking in the correct direction.
According to the Department of Transportation, nine percent of New Yorkers and 27 percent of visitors admitted to being lost in the last week. 13 percent of local New Yorkers were not familiar with the area where they were surveyed, and many couldn’t point to north. And 86 percent of New Yorkers said they had no idea where they were, but that it didn’t mean they were lost, thank you very much.
The wayfinding signs will be piloted in Long Island City, Prospect Heights/Crown Heights, Chinatown, and parts of Midtown. Businesses are excited because the signs may direct pedestrians up commercial streets toward more commercial areas that they once thought were unreachable by foot. Some signs could even have projected walking times, encouraging people to walk somewhere instead of turning yet another subway car into the equivalent of a 16 member family sharing a railroad apartment in 1898 or, worse, taking a cab. New Yorkers, at last, will be able to know which way north is without squinting up into a polluted haze to identify what they think is the North Star but is probably just a blinking antenna.