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Wayfinding

Wayfinding Signs: Harbor StepsWayfinding refers to how one uses spatial and environmental cues in finding a way to or from various locations. Cues in the environment that help us navigate include paths, edges (such as shorelines), nodes (such as intersections), landmarks, and districts (such as neighborhoods or urban villages) (as proposed by Kevin Lynch, 1960, in Image of the City). Tools that are often used to help us spatially organize environmental cues include signage, maps, public art, and online route finders.

Designing a wayfinding system involves organizing spatial and environmental information to provide users with "legibility," or an understanding of their environment, by offering easily identifiable paths, landmarks, or other tactile, visual, and/or auditory cues. For example, colored tactile warning strips installed on curb ramps provide cues that are perceptible by touch and sight and are used to indicate street crossing locations for people with visual impairments. Signage that guides pedestrians to transit stations such as Seattles downtown bus tunnel is an important feature that promotes connectivity between different travel modes.

The following are some examples of wayfinding related to pedestrians in Seattle. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) requires that tactile warning strips be installed on all new curb ramps and curb ramp retrofits at intersections (Right-of-Way Improvements Manual, 4.8). SDOT has developed pedestrian wayfinding signage that includes directional information and routes to neighborhood destinations. A preliminary installation of Seattle's pedestrian wayfinding signage can be found along the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop. In addition to signage, Organizations such as Feet First and Seattle Public Schools have developed maps of neighborhood walking routes.

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