Finding our Way Through Wayfinding

by Catherine Faerber,
Executive Director NPC

Before Naples became a thriving town, it was a sleepy fishing village without paved streets, sidewalks and no need for directional signage. Today, Naples is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Retirees and young families are attracted to the area for its year-round warm weather, natural beauty and no state income tax. With this immense growth comes busy roads and the need for walkable communities, sidewalks, bike lanes, and a comprehensive transportation system that connects us to city centers, educational and healthcare facilities, parks and recreation, and other popular destinations.

Before the invention of GPS, people navigated by looking at the positioning of the moon and stars. The North Star was man’s beacon. We are very fortunate today and have several options to find our way around town and one of the most important methods is through wayfinding. What is wayfinding anyway? Wayfinding helps guide us through the use of signage, maps, symbols and now interactive  applications on cell phones providing us with current location and step by step directions to our destination. Cities with well thought out wayfinding system use symbols enabling even those that speak a foreign language to navigate stress free.

A signage ordinance passed many years ago to avoid cluttering the streets with unnecessary information allowing Naples to
maintain a charm most beach community’s lack. A good balance though includes tasteful wayfinding for residents and visitors that are not familiar with all the wonderful amenities Naples has to offer. Those that choose to travel on foot or by bicycle cannot be forgotten and routes via greenways, bike lanes and sidewalks are crucial for safety of the non-motorized commuters during our busy winter season. Cities that offer easy to follow directions only enhances residents and visitors experience, encourages walking, cycling and allows people discover new areas that may be passed unnoticed in a vehicle.

The City of Naples and Collier County are in the planning stages of a new wayfinding system throughout the Gordon River
Greenway area. The system will provide wayfinding for the Zoo, Conservancy and Baker Park. The future phases of the directional system will guide pedestrians, bicyclist and vehicles to Downtown Naples, Naples Pier, Lowdermilk Beach Park, Naples Historical Society’s Palm Cottage and the Paradise Coast Sports Complex.

If you recently moved to Naples or have resided in the area for a longtime, I encourage you to get involved with the NPC. As a
member, you will help us advocate for multimodal transportation to places we travel by necessity and for fun. The NPC will continue reminding our City Council and County Commissioners the future safety of our children and families is reliant upon building multiuse pathways such as the Paradise Coast Trail, widening sidewalks, adding new bike lanes as we reconstruct and grow to the east. Visit us online at Naplespathways.org to learn more.

Do you have comments? Email me at Catherine@NaplesPathways.org. Follow us on Facebook by visiting, www.Facebook.com/NaplesPathways.

Mark your calendars for our upcoming Naples and TD Bank Naples Bike Brunch on March 1, from 7 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at Lowdermilk Beach Park, 1301 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., Naples. To register for this family fun event, visit http://www.naplespathways.org/events. If you can’t attend any of these events, but want to invest in your community by providing safe pathways, visit www.naplespathways.org/pctrail.

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