City Design For... Ducks!
Posted on 20 May 2015
Pause the car-vs-bike debates and never mind what's happening with our bunches of bridges: over in London they're upping the adorable ante on urban design and we should take a note. We all know the mild (to violent) discomfort of using a busy mixed-use path, sandwiched between self-absorbed iPod-ed joggers, impatiently swerving bikers and the inevitable dreaded Slow Walker. London is networked by canals and riverways, flanked by narrow century-old "towpaths" that are packed with walkers, cyclists, boaters, joggers and fishermen... and no small amount of ducks! And now these popular river paths have gotten thoughtful wayfinding for that unusual constituent group.
Like most urban social spaces in old cities, the popularity of the paths has only grown since their Industrial Revolution era origin, and maintaining civil use is a challenge. The Canal River Trust, an organization tasked with maintaining 2,000 miles of these paths, has allowed one of their stewards to install temporary white "Duck Lanes" in four high traffic corridors around the city. Rather than trying to train the wild fowl to follow the rules of the road, the goal is to raise awareness of the habitat surrounding the paths and encourage slower, more conscientious use from those who are a little better at reading signs.
Apparently not everyone grew up with Make Way For Ducklings, but it's never too late to embrace the idea. Three cheers for fun, thought provoking signage.