"This walk is a delightful way to get lost around London."
Working in partnership with the London Boroughs we developed, promoted and improved London’s top seven walking routes. The LOOP Walk, Capital Ring Walk, Green Chain Walk, Lea Valley Walk, Thames Path Walk, Jubilee Walkway and Jubilee Greenway Walk - the most beautiful and interesting walks in London connecting 390 miles through all 33 London Boroughs.
The Walk Finder was our solution to the problem of presenting complex and detailed route information in an attractive, useful, and interactive way.
How do you get people to engage with your project? Walk London promotion includes postcard and poster design and distribution, events, led walks, social media and digital takeovers.
When you've got 390 miles to look after you need a well organised approach to route management and you need some dedicated and skilled people.
We have expertise in creating simple web interactivity from complex layers of information and multi file formats. So how did we go about creating an interactive layered map of London with all the tube points and Walk London routes to their correct scale ?
Taking a graphical design led map of London showing the Walk London walks - we overlaid it with a geo coded transport data layer matching the scale of the city by eye using the River Thames! We then took that file into Flash and hey presto and a lot of programming we have interactive map of London layered with video files, tube lines and other points of interest. Using an assortment of assets and our creative thinking and problem solving skills we were able to make a vague idea practical and real.
Sometimes completing your project feels like the end of a long haul but often it's just the beginning. How do you get people to engage with the project, to use it, to even know of its existence?
Walk Unlimited have been promoting Walk London since 2002. During that time we have run poster campaigns on the underground, managed digital takeovers of Time Out and created information websites with associated newsletters. We have designed, produced and distributed postcards to publicise the ever popular Walking Weekends. The Walk London Facebook page and Twitter account have an ever growing group of lively contributors. It's really all about choosing the relevant promotional method for your particular project.
Where do you start when you've got 390 miles of routes to look after? Well, actually at the start we didn't know exactly how much we had. The first step was to work out what we had and to work out what we wanted it to be like when we were finished - from that you can work out a survey methodology. We worked with survey software experts Exegesis to develop a survey system and a route management system that could be accessed by all 33 London Boroughs. We based this on CAMS and called it LAMS. We also set up a web interface so that route managers and Boroughs could see what needed doing and could enter information to show what had been done. We produced a design guide to clearly show how each route should be signed and the quality of assets that should be installed.
We employed route managers for each route, to work in partnership with the Boroughs and a couple of excellent contractors to improve the routes and reach the standards set out in the design guide. Over the years we have watched as the number of outstanding issues decreased from 3,000 to zero in January 2012.
We know that providing clear, accurate and inspiring route information is key to getting people walking. For Walk London we provided information in a variety of formats and styles, all developed from customer feedback, to ensure that it was accessible and up to date.
A route overview leaflet for each walk provided a taster, signposting you to the Walk London website for more detailed information. The website was designed around the seven walks so that it was easy to find how long a walk is, where it started and finished and the latest information on any temporary diversions. A pdf map and directions was available for each section of each walk - that's a total of 158 leaflets!
We designed waymarkers for each route and worked with the Boroughs and landowners along the routes to have them installed. In the more rural areas traditional fingerposts and waymarkers are fine but these don't work on busy urban streets. Instead we designed attractive and durable waymarkers discs that are installed in the pavement. The Jubilee Walkway uses metal markers and the Jubilee Greenway uses wonderful etched glass markers entirely created from recycled glass, some of which are even lit from underneath. To assist with wayfinding we have plaques at key stations and tube stations providing a phone number which gives access to audio information about the routes.
We realise that the routes pass through some wonderful cityscapes so we have also designed and installed fabulous interpretive panels to describe what can be seen from the routes. These are tactile so that people with visual impairments don't miss out and we have downloadable audio guides to accompany them. Just in case that isn't enough we have audio versions of all our section information and we have short video clips to point out some of the more unusual sights on the routes.
We have worked with Transport for London and the Boroughs to ensure the routes are shown on any mapping or other promotional material, including the Legible London maps. We've also attended festivals and events to raise awareness of the routes and promoted them in a range of other ways. Hopefully anyone spending time in London will find it hard not to see some reference somewhere to one of the seven routes.
We knew that we needed to prove we were making a difference so we developed a set of Key Performance indicators, one of which involved counting the number of people walking on the routes.
We like pedestrian counters mainly because they provide hard facts you can use to show how valuable your project is.
We managed a network of 36 people counters on the Walk London routes. The locations vary from semi-rural quiet meadows and woodlands to the bustle of Fleet Street. Some were buried in the ground, others in discrete boxes fastened to existing posts. The data was accessed via telemetry so that we can see it in real time and quickly spot if something has gone wrong. To add value to the data we combined it with qualitative user surveys to give a meaningful picture of use on the network. This allowed us to say how many people were using the network to get to work or school, to access shops or other services and how many are using it for leisure walks.
The Walk London Walking Weekends were developed as part of the campaign to promote walking as a great way to enjoy the Capital for everyday journeys.
Since the pilot event in 2007, the weekends - run three times a year - have continued to grow and now attract over 3000 people per weekend. Up to 43 free led walks take place over each weekend. Many walks have a specific themes.
Well managed routes? Now you need to let people know about them.
How do you prove the work you're doing is worthwhile?
Winter Wanders, Spring into Summer, Autumn Ambles