It’s been a long winter, but we’re finally starting to see solid signs of spring!  As the snow finally recedes, trail users who walk and bike will be hitting the Danville leg of the LVRT for some quality outdoor activity.  For those of us who live in Danville, using the trail to get to specific destinations is no big deal.  We know where everything is.  But what about folks from away who are enjoying Danville’s scenic and outdoor offerings?  If you weren’t from around here and you were in Joe’s Pond, would you know that it was only a moderate walk via the LVRT to get to the Village?  You might not!  One of the key pieces of the Village to Village Master Plan is the development of “wayfinding” for the trail.

What is Wayfinding?

Wayfinding, in a nutshell, is how we find our way through our environment, whether we’re inside or outside. When you’re new to school, it takes a while to figure out how to get from one classroom to the next, or to the library or to the gym. One of the most common tools we use for wayfinding are signs. Signs can tell you what a place is (like restroom signs, for example) or how to get there (directional signs). Maps, of course, are one of the oldest examples of wayfinding. Whether it’s a map of the United States or a trail map, as long as you know where you are on the map and what direction you’re pointed, you should be able to find your way. Smartphones make wayfinding much easier than it once was. Now, we can look up our destination on our phone, locate it on a map and get directions.  But what if you didn’t have a phone, or there was no cell service where you were? What if there were no signs and you didn’t have a map? You would most likely find it challenging to find your way to where you wanted to go.

How to make good wayfinding

Good wayfinding systems are easy to understand. Optimally, they use graphics that are easily understood by people who speak different languages, or they at least use very simple language. They make it easy for the navigator (whoever is using the system to travel) to figure out where they are and what direction they are facing. You know a wayfinding system is working properly when the navigator is able to correctly determine how to go from her current location to her destination. In addition to signs, landmarks are an excellent wayfinding tool. Landmarks are objects (like a specific building, such as Hastings Store) or features in the landscape (like Joe’s Pond) that are easily seen and recognized from a distance. In many ways, landmarks are better than signs because they can move beyond language barriers.

Wayfinding for Danville

Over the next two months, DuBois & King (our consultants on this project) will be working with the community to create wayfinding that is useful and reflective of the community.  There will be opportunities for folks to test out and provide feedback on the system beginning in June.  Once we have collected feedback for a few weeks, our consultant will put together a draft wayfinding plan that will become part of the final project.  Look for more information in the next few weeks!