Bob Firth runs Informing Design Inc., a Pennsylvania company
that advises cities about how to make it easier for people to get
around. He has spent the last few days trying to find his way
"You have a big problem here," he says. For example,
regarding The Forks national historical site – Winnipeg's top
tourist attraction – Firth says if you didn't know it was there,
you'd have a tough time finding it.
"People are walking or driving on streets and they need to
see signs facing them ahead of a turn," he says. "You
need advance warning and you need the confidence that you're going
to have that advanced warning for people to really be able to
'see' these things."
Firth also complains that the route numbers on signs are
confusing and mean nothing, and he says there are no signs at all
telling visitors how to get to some destinations. He says the city
is a "blank canvas" for pedestrians, and while there are
30,000 parking spots in the downtown area, most signs indicating
the location of parking are in the wrong position or are
Firth pictures 3D maps at bus stops and colour-coded signs to
tell people when they're getting close to an attraction.
"We're going to make it a lot more fun for visitors and
simpler from a traffic perspective."
He says tourists aren't the only ones who benefit from better
signs; when signage changed in Pittsburgh, he says the city's
residents started to explore more of the city.
Firth expects to have his initial report on traffic signs
completed this fall. The city is spending almost $250,000 this
year to deal with the sign issues.