Ever Get Lost In New York City? No Worries, ‘Wayfinder’ System Coming Soon

DOT Commish: From Our Standpoint, The More Signs On The Streets The Better

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City may be a ‘helluva town,” as the old song goes. The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down.

But if you need help getting any place else, well, the Department of Transportation wants to stop you from getting lost, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

“You know, Ross Perot used to say that New Yorkers couldn’t find their way out of New York City if they had a map,” said Carnegie Hill resident Debbie Dickinson.

Kramer decided to expand on the politician’s words and conduct an informal poll. It turns out he could have been on to something.

She asked two New Yorkers how to get to ground zero.

“It’s a trick question,” Bonnie Luria said.

“I know where it is, but I don’t know how to get there. Okay, I’m a little dippy, dipsy,” added Terry Phelan.

Kramer then asked another how to get to the Empire State Building.

“We walk. That’s all we know,” the person answered.

And that pretty much sums up why the city is launching a $1.5 million program called “Wayfinding,” putting up signs to help pedestrians — tourists and locals — navigate the city.

Click here to learn more about the plan (pdf)

Officials hope the pedestrian sign system will also relieve overcrowding on mass transit by encouraging walking.

1010 WINS’ John Montone reports: Having Trouble Finding Your Way?

DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said the signs would help both tourists and locals and make the city more accessible.

“From our pedestrian surveys we found that 27 percent of visitors admitted that they got lost in the previous week and 33 percent of New Yorkers did not know which direction was north,” she said. “So, clearly it would be great to have more information on the streets.

“We’ve all had the experience of coming out of a subway and not knowing which direction to go, coming out of a building and not knowing where we need to go and this is a way to unlock the city,” Sadik-Khan added.

lic wayfinding aw recentered Ever Get Lost In New York City? No Worries, Wayfinder System Coming Soon

An example of a wayfinding map (credit: DOT)

The new signs should start popping up next year in Chinatown and parts of Midtown, Long Island City in Queens, and Prospect Heights and Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

“No one knows that we are only three to four minutes from the Brooklyn Bridge and only a minute or two from the court complexes,” said Wellington Chen, the executive director of Chinatown Partnership. “The street grid can be confusing, even to people who live here.”

Mitchell Moss, director of the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, broke down for Kramer the thought process behind the idea.

“All of the signage in the city is designed for automobiles, one way or stop, basically. We’re now going to have a system to help the people. This is a pedestrian city,” Moss said.

“New Yorkers are now becoming explorers in their own city and what are they finding out … they’re finding out they don’t know how to get around when they leave the kind of four-block area where they function,” Moss said.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports: Helping Tourists And Locals

One visitor from Washington said that he never has any problems getting around town thanks to the kindness of strangers.

“All you have to do is stop and people are very friendly and they help you and even take you by the hand,” he told 1010 WINS’ John Montone.

One native New Yorker said he has no problem getting around Manhattan but Queens is another story. Unlike the grid layout of the city, you can easily get lost in Queens by mistaking 30th Avenue for 30th Street, 30th Road or even 30th Drive.

Companies have until July 27 to submit their ideas to the DOT website of a design for the signs.

The good news is that much of the cost of the program will be born by the federal government and local businesses. In Union Square Park, there is a statue of Abraham Lincoln and the nearby “R” train will take you to Courtland Street at ground zero.

Ever get lost in the city? Do you think the signs are necessary? Sound off below…

  • David Brier

    I think 33% of NY’ers don’t even know where their toochis is!!

  • aikoaiko3

    Put a simple “Bank of America” or “Target” logo on it, and it pays for itself. Now if we can figure out a way to get tourists to walk FASTER…

  • Ellen

    Try driving around Boston. Talk about one discombobulated city to get around.

  • nathan

    Anything that increases tourism is good for nyc. Without it things would be a lot worse here than they already are.

  • karlson

    Ross Perot is an idiot. He means he couldn’t find his way out of NY, with a map or without it. Ross Perot couldn’t find his ass with both hands.

  • ronnie from morris park

    Will this be another pilot program that will cost a fortune and be a bust. We need to stop our billionaire mayor from wasting tax payer money.

  • lolwut

    The only signage they should put up is maybe something letting you know which direction is north when you come out of the subway.

  • Joey

    Another waste of money,…just so bloombergs yuppies can finally feel liek they dont need to “depend” on anyone…

    NYC sucks….get out while you can…

    • Pushed to the Ocean

      My thoughts exactly

  • Pushed to the Ocean

    REAL New Yorkers know how to get around in this city.

    Stop catering to the transplants that have invaded our town. Let them learn how to get around town just like we had to learn. Besides, the yuppies and hipsters that “claim” NYC have no interest in 90% of the city.

    Let’s utilize our funds for affordable housing for the working class instead of spending it on this nonsense.

  • KC

    Another not needed addition and waste of funds, why think, use your mind etc. Drivers have GPS, now let’s make walking and touring moron proof too!

  • Nick

    Got money to pay your pals to print pretty new signs? But no money for services? That’s Bloomberg for ya.

  • Carlos Guzman

    This is ridiculous. We shouldn’t have to fit the bill for this rubbish. This should be sponsored by the different stores and landmarks that will benefit from the extra traffic. Corporate sponsorship is the key to make it happen.

    • Michael H.

      Why shouldn’t we foot the bill for this? Making our city more tourist friendly brings in more tourists. More tourists means more money coming into our city. More money in the city makes a better life for everybody here.

      • Pal

        “Rubbish?” I you are most certainly not from here.

  • Carlos Liriano

    another of the broad Sadik-khan waste of tax payer dollars, get that dumb bimbo out of DOT

  • true NYC

    People in time square are not form New York.

  • FedUpListener

    Thank you, CBS, for this post. I listened to WINS for over an hour and they never explained what the new signs were about; all they did was feature John Montone interviewing people about whether they knew which way was north, and such. Someone really oughta get WINS in shape. It has become a commercial-laden irrelevant joke–we give them 22 minutes and they spout a lotta meaningless noise.

  • KMar

    33% of New Yorkers don’t know which way is North? Really? I’d love to know where they got this sample of “New Yorkers”.

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