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GOOD Ideas for Cities: Transforming Urban Trail Wayfinding

How to increase traffic on urban hiking and biking trails? Show how they fit into the larger transportation network with a transit-influenced map.


Like many American cities, Dallas has invested in the health of its residents with a series of recreational hiking and biking trails. But without a comprehensive mapping and wayfinding system, the trails are all but invisible to a large portion of residents. How to increase activity on these vital recreational corridors? As part of GOOD Ideas for Cities Dallas, the Connect the Dots team found a way to not only make these hiking and biking trails more visible, they discovered a simple solution that would make the trails more useful to Dallas residents on a daily basis.

As the team explored the 110-mile trail system, they realized that encouraging use on a recreational basis would only add a limited number of users. What they needed was to get more people to use the trails as a transportation network—to get to school or work. The best way to show how well the trails integrated with the current transportation network (streets, light-rail and buses) was to display the wayfinding the same way: As a transit system. Their proposal, named GO Dallas!, uses the language of a transit map to show connections to local landmarks, major streets and transit stops, making what was once an invisible network into a great resource to Dallas residents.

Challenge: The City of Dallas has more than 110 miles of hiking and biking trails. But due to lack of branding, non-existent wayfinding system and a comprehensive electronic field guide, many citizens don't know that this incredible resource exists. How do we connect the dots so local residents, business owners and developers not only know about, but make better use of our hike and bike trails?

Samuel Stites, Dallas Parks Foundation; Joan Walne, Dallas Park Board; Michael Hellman, Park Planning & Acquisitions; David Whitney, Dallas City Design Studio

Connect the Dots / Bike Hike Trails: Brian Murphy, Robbie Good, Cyndi Long, David Whitley, Deana Jirak, Edna Monterrosa, Erin Hanley, Jared White, Joel Landingham, Katie Galasso, Lacy Barnett-Cagle, Mikel Wilkins

Video by Madison Liane and Michael Piccola

GOOD Ideas for Cities pairs creative problem-solvers with real urban challenges proposed by civic leaders. To learn more visit Watch more videos of recent GOOD Ideas for Cities events, and if you'd like to talk about bringing the program to your city or school, email alissa[at]goodinc[dot]com or follow us at @IdeasforCities

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