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Signage that Communicates with People

Gil Penalosa, Executive Director of Walk and Bike for Life has a good message on signage in a letter to the editor in the Toronto Star. Gil is rightly saying that we need to communicate better with people in our parks. The idea seems transferable to many cities: simple changes to signage can make our parks much more pleasant places.

Gil PenalosaCentral Park sign, Gil Penalosa

Photos: Gil Penalosa

…..Why can’t they use the “sandwich” strategy and at least begin and end with a nice message?The photo I took [right above] of a sign used at all Oakville trails is similar to many in GTA municipalities: “Recreational Trail; No Motorized Vehicles; No Dumping; No Removal of Plants, Soil or Wood; Dogs must be leashed; Please clean-up after your pet; Cyclists Yield to Pedestrians; Trail Prone to Washouts; Area Prone to Poison Ivy;

And if that was not enough, they add a second sign about picking up after your pet. It’s a wonder that people actually use those gorgeous trails after reading those signs at every entrance point. Maybe it’s because, thankfully, most people do not read them. And for those few who do, could we start the sign with a highlighted “Welcome” and end with “Enjoy the Beautiful Trail”?

In contrast, a photo I took of New York’s Central Park [right below] for an area where sports are not allowed, begins: “PLEASE HELP US PROTECT THIS LAWN” and ends with “Thank You.” In the middle is the message of: “NO sports; YES reading; YES relaxing; YES sunbathing; YES daydreaming.”Maybe more people would read the signs and pay attention to the content if they were written as if meant to be read by people we love; our residents.

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One Response

  1. Great points. Signs should also be more illustrative with their messages with as little text as possible. That’s how you’ll get people to stop and look at them.

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