New signage is set to be installed in St Helen’s Square later this week as part of a joint initiative led by York Business Improvement District in partnership with City of York Council and York Civic Trust to make it easier for visitors and residents to find their way around the city centre.
The trial wayfinding totem is due to be installed ahead of the August bank holiday weekend, and will remain in place until the Autumn. Researchers will question those using the new signage to see how effective they find it. The new bronze-coloured signage has been designed to be sympathetic to the York stone and features eye-level maps with useful details including how long it will take to walk to key city destinations.
“In a city that attracts seven million tourists each year, it is crucial that we provide high quality, useful signage that can be easily updated to showcase the myriad cultural and retail opportunities within the city centre. We’ve looked at existing provision within York as well as schemes successfully implemented in comparable cities like Bath and Oxford to devise a scheme that blends in with the historic environment yet provides helpful information for the 21 st century,” comments Andrew Lowson, executive director of York BID.
The multi-functional totems have been designed by accessibility experts to ensure that fonts and colours used, and even the height of the displays, make these accessible for disabled people, addressing one of the key issues regarding the practicality of the old fingerpost signs. “We are keen to hear feedback on the effectiveness and utility of the new designs from people of all ages and backgrounds,” adds Andrew Lowson.
David Fraser, Chief Executive of York Civic Trust, is looking forward with interest to seeing the prototype sign being installed: “We have a beautiful city, and it is right that we make every effort to share as much of that as possible with visitors. The iconic green fingerboard signs were a huge step forward in their time and are still functional, but we recognise that the art and technology of wayfinding has improved, and there are contemporary ways of presenting a greater variety of information. We will be looking carefully at the new scheme to check how it sits within our cherished city, and we will take part positively in the exercise to evaluate the appearance and usefulness of the next generation of wayfinding.”
The pilot scheme has been jointly funded by York BID and City of York Council, each contributing £18,000 to the project.
Cllr Ian Gillies, leader of City of York Council, said: “Improving information for residents and visitors is something the council is fully behind. We’ve highlighted the need for this through a number of studies over the last few years, through our Streetscape Strategy and Guidance, the Historic Core Conservation Area Appraisal and the City Centre Movement and Accessibility Study. These all highlight the need for York to carry out a review and examine its existing city-wide information systems through a wayfinding strategy, so we really welcome this trial.”
Cllr Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for culture, leisure and tourism, said: “ Improving our signage will help millions of visitors and residents find their way round a complex, fascinating network of streets and snickleways in York. It’s really important that new signage also adds to York’s character and distinctiveness and that they’re clear for those visiting here for the very first time, so that they can easily find our iconic attractions, venues and landmarks.
“So we encourage everyone to visit the new wayfinding totem in St Helen’s Square later this month and feedback their thoughts to York BID.”
The wayfinding totem will be installed ahead of the bank holiday weekend. Researchers will interview those using the boards, with additional feedback sought through the York BID website at www.yorkbid.com/wayfinding