Friday, March 2, 2012

Find: City planner proposes to resurrect guerrilla Walk Raleigh signs

Walk raleigh lives on. 

n&o crosstown

Planning Director Mitchell Silver pulled down Matt Tomasulo’s pedestrian navigation signs last week because they broke city rules. Now he wants to put them up again.

Tomasulo has agreed to give the city 27 signs he posted at three downtown street corners to promote shoe-leather transportation, in a civic-minded guerrilla campaign called “Walk Raleigh.”

Silver will ask permission from the City Council next week to resurrect Tomasulo’s idea in the form of an official 90-day city pilot project.

Each sign is simple: an arrow, a destination and the time it takes to walk there. A special scan code on each sign provides online directions for pedestrians equipped with smart phones.

One sign at Hargett and Wilmington streets said, “It’s an 18 minute walk to Glenwood South.” Other signs announced walk times to parks, museums, the Amtrak station and shopping areas.

Tomasulo posted them in January. Citing the city sign ordinance, Silver personally removed some of them last week. He said he hoped to channel Tomasulo’s motives in a city-sponsored project.

“It’s just a public awareness and public education campaign to promote walking, and it’s a simple as that,” Silver said Friday. After three months, he said, he would evaluate the signs and the public response.

If the council rejects Silver’s suggestion, Tomasulo will have the option to apply for an encroachment permit – permission to post signs in the public right of way. City inspectors regularly remove signs, usually with commercial advertising, that have been erected without permits.

Tomasulo, a 29-year-old graduate student, said he hoped the council would approve what he called a public-private partnership. He hopes to build public support for the effort with an online petition posted at http://walk-raleigh.org.

“It’s been a great experience, and I look forward to continuing the conversation with the city about it,” Tomasulo said.

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