Seamless Seattle is based on the Legible London model, developed for Transport for London, and aims to make the city more legible and accessible for local residents, commuters and visitors.
Seattle is implementing a citywide wayfinding system to support its ambitions to become the most walkable city in the US. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) appointed multi-discipline design consultancy and wayfinding specialist Applied Information Group to create the system.
Based on the Legible London model, developed for Transport for London (TfL) and implemented by Applied in London, Seamless Seattle will make the city more legible and accessible for local residents and commuters as well as the more than 40 million visitors that travel to Seattle each year.
Seattle’s economy has been growing at more than twice the national average largely as a result of local tech-based industries, including Amazon which was founded in the city in 1994. This has led to it becoming the second fastest growing city in the US. The City aims to manage the demand for travel generated by this growth and is focused on ensuring walking, rolling, cycling and transit offer people real options over driving.
“Seattle is internationally famous for its contributions to popular culture and within the US for improving its transportation system to favour walking, biking and transit,” said Applied’s project director for Seattle, Adrian Bell.
He added: “Our wayfinding project became much more than designing signs and directions. The input of community leaders, stakeholders and ambitious city staff encouraged us to create a project that is inclusive and demonstrates that walking, in particular, is the glue that holds the city together.”
A 2009 study by the US Department of Transportation estimated that each year car trips of under a mile add up to over 10 billion miles per year, which has implications for both the environment and people’s physical health.
With integration and accessibility as core pillars for the new system, Seamless Seattle supports SDOT’s commitment to increase the percentage of trips made by walking to 35 per cent by 2035.
“The input of community leaders, stakeholders and ambitious city staff encouraged us to create a project that is inclusive and demonstrates that walking, in particular, is the glue that holds the city together”
The new information system, developed through a multi-year process of research and local engagement, will make walking a simpler choice for many users and also create clearer connections between other modes of public transport to encourage use.
The design elements of Seamless Seattle include:
Citywide connectivity was an important requirement related to the grant funding SDOT received for the project. Applied worked closely with the major transit agencies Sound Transit and King County Metro to make sure a system of information for city streets linked seamlessly to transit services.
Citywide application also meant considering the cultural and historic diversity of the city’s neighbourhoods. Applied partnered with local businesses Alta Planning + Design and 3 Square Blocks to involve community and business leaders in the planning and design of the information system.
“We are pleased to share the launch of the Seamless Seattle pedestrian wayfinding pilot in Downtown Seattle, which helps integrate and streamline travel systems across the city,” said Sam Zimbabwe, director of the Seattle Department of Transportation. “This effort would not be possible without the assistance of all our partners and community stakeholders who generously shared their time and expertise with us.”
Applied’s work with SDOT delivered an initial scoping study, a detailed planning strategy and guidelines, full design standards and plans for two large pilot projects that are being implemented in 2021. To meet SDOT’s funding requirements, Applied’s team completed research, public and stakeholder consultation, planning, business case, digital strategy and detailed graphic and product design through several rounds of city review in just 12 months.