Rethinking Points of Departure

New York City is [planning to erect street signs]( that will help pedestrians get around the city. The Department of Transportation says the signs are meant to promote walking, but that strikes me as a rather limited goal.

The sign project reminds me of [a session I went to]( at the Festival of Ideas for the New City where participants got most excited about the ideas of creating hubs of information and options at points where people make decisions about their transportation. Imagine if, when you got out of a major subway station, there was a sign that gave you information about walking, a clear map of bus routes serving that neighborhood, and a bike share station. This isn't a crazy idea: now that D.C.'s Union Station has a bike share station on top of a metro stop, a bus stop for regular and Circulator routes, and a view of the Capitol, it offers this suite of options, more or less.

It's certainly a good idea for New York to make walking more accessible to people by helping them navigate confusing city streets, but, really, the city should be encouraging visitors and citizens to travel in any way besides a cab. What about the person who thinks 30 minutes is too far to walk but would happily ride a bike 10 minutes to get to the same place? Right now, it's easiest to skip the walk or to take a cab. In these situations, governments can be most helpful by creating multiple, lower-carbon options for people at the points where they make choices about what they're going to do next.