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albany_walking_time_signs.jpg

A few weeks back we posted a short bit about Walk [Your City], a project in other cities aimed at addressing the "it's too far to walk" issue.

As it turns out, there are already similar signs here in Albany. Nicole spotted a few of them in downtown Albany this week (that's her pic above).

The signs went up last fall as part of the "tactical urbanism" plan that Capitalize Albany is pursuing, the org's president, Sarah Reginelli, told us this week. The signs in Albany were inspired by Walk [Your City].

"The intent was to show the wealth of approachable opportunities within walking distance of the employment and retail center at Tricentennial Park," Reginelli said to us in an email. "It's all about embracing walkability. This method helps get the public, who may be used to walking directly to one destination, to alter their choice of transportation methods when going between others, or to explore their environment beyond what they are used to."

Reginelli said the current signs are a small test program -- there are seven of them around the Tricentennial Park area -- before possibly making a bigger investment in the idea. She said Capitalize Albany welcomes feedback about them as it thinks about the signage's future.

Speaking just from our own experience, the more you walk or take the bus, the more your mental map of a place -- and that sense of "how far" things are from each other -- changes. You can actually get pretty far in 15 minutes while walking. But that's sometimes hard to internalize until you make the trip a time or two.

Comments

Interesting that these went up in the fall - I didn't notice them until this week, but Tricentennial Park was closed for the winter (they don't don't do snow removal within the park and put up barricades at the entrances).

Overall, a positive thing for Albany - I hope there will be more popping up around the city.

I love these signs! There IS so much to do and see by foot. A fantastic addition to downtown.

These are awesome, and I hadn't noticed them until this piece! I always try to walk if my destination is under 1.5 miles (unless the temperature is lower than my age or I have heavy stuff to carry). Albany's small enough that I often don't need to use my car at all aside from driving to and from work, especially in the warmer months. Hopefully this will encourage more people to walk around and see all of the parts of our pretty little city.

@SiobhanGK -- "unless the temperature is lower than my age..." Love that! I'm guessing you are pretty young or you wouldn't get around much in our upstate winters. On the other hand, I don't like walking when the temperature is higher than my father's age.

I like SiobhanGK's walking methodology, I'm going to have to give it a try.

I think these signs are a great start and would't mind some imagination thrown in for fun and to make people curious with a QR code to get more info. For example:

It is a 20 minute walk to the Cohoes Mastodon and Carousel Rides (State Museum)

Since the signs are likely printed for each specific location, a small route map (or suggested route to the museum, in this case) would be nice, there's plenty of room. These are a great idea and something similar (that's not the kiosk signs on a few street corners) should be implemented into more of our sidewalk infrastructure -- pedestrian guidance right on lampposts, bus shelters, utility poles, etc. More people use Albany as a tourist destination than you might think, and and it seems like they're perpetually lost.

re: the last paragraph. Most people can easily walk 3 miles an hour. 4/hr is a little brisker. Kind of puts it in perspective when you consider...
ESP Madison & N. Main: 2 mi.
Washington Park Spectrum Theater: 1 mi.
State Museum New Scotland & Grove: 1.5 mi.
Lark & State Corning Preserve: hair over 1 mi.

Am I crazy? I feel like I am living in the twilight zone here in upstate NY. Are freaking Americans-Albanians really that stupid and our cities so pathetic and our lifestyles so sedentary that we have to guide people with inane signs with walking times on them??? "Bon Jour monsieur the Eiffel Tower is 36 minutes walking slowly straight ahead".... "The coliseum is 2 3/4 minutes walking briskly to your left". We need cities that flow and that are FULL of life. We need to make our city have its sites incorporated into our lives not distinct from them!

Welcome to America, BS.

@BS, while I can appreciate the sentiment, I don't think its as cut and dry--even a great, lively city like NYC has implemented similar tools and has virtual kiosks to help guide folks around.

Yes, shame on those in the Capital Region who don't appreciate or under-sell our urban centers. It boggles my mind when folks from the 'burbs stop me on the street for directions to the Capitol or State Museum. While these signs may help them, I think they are even more critical to the growing number of tourists exploring our city.

A few years back, when I was walking around downtown for a few Saturday mornings to take some pictures of Albany's architectural diversity, I was at first taken aback, but quickly joyed at seeing the number of Asian tourist exploring our city, taking in the history and visiting those establishments that bothered to be open downtown on a Saturday morning. Why couldn't we get the locals to do the same (oh wait, they had their heads buried in the sand about a ton of ill-conceived notions about downtown). This flow of weekend tourists seems to have grown over the years and diversified. I'm not sure of the cause, but as a downtown supporter, I'm happy for it and think these signs and any other tools that can help aid their visit is a positive thing.

FWIW, I think you'd have to be in pretty bad shape for it to take 20 minutes to walk from Tricentennial Park to the State Museum. I can easily do it in 10 :)

I think these are great. I'm not afraid to walk around Albany but many of my friends from the "burbs" wouldn't dare walk between separate destinations. Mostly because they can't conceptualize how close they really are. They just aren't familiar with their surroundings. Sad, yes. But if we can change that, fantastic. I say if these help encourage a few more people to walk the streets of Albany, great! More people to bring back the downtown atmosphere to downtown.

@Kman518 -- no need to shame the out-of-shape for walking slow. There are plenty of senior citizens or folks trying to get back into shape who won't break any records walking a mile. And for those who do get there in half the time, cool, you get to feel smug. Everybody wins!

Best Magic Hat bottle cap quip I ever got was "everywhere is walking distance if you have the time"

Love the idea, and hope it inspires folks to experience and enjoy one of Albany's best features... walkability

The first version of these in Charleston had QR codes that linked to maps. This obviously doesn't help people without at least a feature phone. If the route is simple enough, a map would be better.

The alternative would be to have another sign at each turn.

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