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.
[3/7/12 update: Approved by council Tuesday, according to city news release:
The creator of the “Walk Raleigh” signs posted at up to three intersections in the Capital City has agreed to donate the signs to the City of Raleigh. The City Council voted unanimously today to accept the signs as a gift from Matt Tomasulo, a local college graduate student who launched the initiative to promote walking and healthy living in the Capital City.]
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.com. [3/5/12 correction: Original URL for Walk Raleigh was wrong.]
“It’s been a great experience, and I look forward to continuing the conversation with the city about it,” Tomasulo said.