Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A plea for more pedestrian signposting

When I was a young child, I moved with my family to Cumbernauld. It's hard to believe now, but once upon a time the town was worshipped as a masterpiece of modern planning. One of the reasons for that was the very simple idea of keeping pedestrians well away from the roads. In fact there are hardly any pavements next to the roads at all, because in theory everyone is supposed to use the impressive network of footpaths instead. But even at the age of seven, it didn't take me long to spot the slight flaw in this otherwise ingenious reasoning - namely that everyone was getting hopelessly lost. Even people who had lived in the town all their lives didn't have a clue how to walk to a destination beyond their immediate vicinity, and if you asked them for directions they would tell you how to get there by road, not footpath. Essentially the whole system is rendered largely redundant for want of some decent pedestrian signposts - and incredibly that's a lesson that the local council still seem unable to learn.

But it's not just the special case of Cumbernauld. I was on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow a few hours ago, and the guy sitting opposite me asked how to get from Queen Street Station to Central Station. I tried to explain to him that it wasn't possible to get a connecting train, but that it was a very short and easy walk. But unfortunately he didn't speak English very well, and when I told him the details of that very short and easy walk I could see the panic in his eyes. And it suddenly struck me that it's only an easy walk if you know exactly where you're going - there may only be a couple of turns along the way, but they're not signposted for pedestrians. So I gave in to the inevitable and walked him the whole way there. I imagine little incidents like that must happen day in, day out.

Is it really too much to ask for the city council to erect a few signs to allow visitors to traverse the short distance between the two major railway stations without unnecessary hassle and worry?


  1. Never ceases to amaze me how bad signposting can be when it comes to public transport.

    No-one ever seems to ask the question "what signs would I need, were I to be a new user of this station?" and then, you know... put up those signs.

  2. Yeah, the situation you describe is hardly uncommon either, I've had to direct a fair few folk to Central Station in my time. Although in fairness, I'm sure there's one of those dark blue square-based columns with a map on them round about Queen Street. But it would be so much easier if the exits of Queen Street station just said signposts for Central Station.

    Railway stations are a particularly obvious thing to put signs up for, but I remember driving round Livingston for ages trying to find one of their stations once. They had some signs, but then they suddenly stopped. I think I was meant to assume the lack of signs meant I had to keep going straight ahead, but when you're going through multiple roundabouts, you're never sure.

  3. You're a credit to your city, Mr Kelly.

  4. Adequate pedestrian signposting can help minimize accidents. Also, we still fully need the cooperation of drivers.