Today in NW Indiana, over 170 miles of off-road trail exist for people to take advantage of. From bicycling, to running, or just walking their dogs, Region residents have embraced trails, and desire more miles to enjoy.
However, these trail systems have developed on a community-by-community basis, and although connected, they lack one major design element - wayfinding. Wayfinding refers to signage elements, and how their designs help people get around. As the trail miles continue to grow, the need for wayfinding has only increased.
To help address this growing concern, NIRPC brought together a number of municipal representatives to develop a document which would outline wayfinding designs. The result of their efforts culminated in the creation of NIRPC’s Unified Wayfinding Guide in 2016, which is now the standard for new signage elements for future trails as funded by NIRPC.
The guide sets out a number of wayfinding elements including community entrance signs, directional signs, map kiosks, mileage markers and street signs. Each of these new elements will not only enhance a trail user’s experience, but provide critical information to emergency providers.
The first application for the guide is now underway, with the first batch of wayfinding elements planned for installation this month. These elements will be installed along the entire 17-mile length of the Erie-Lackawanna Trail, and the 11-mile Prairie-Duneland Trail. Involving 11 municipal agencies, this represents the largest multi-jurisdictional project in the history of NW Indiana, and thus marks a significant milestone in regional cooperation.