Mystery shoppers say monoliths reduce journey times

Camden Council say an improved quality assurance system for Legible London signs will be deployed to prevent errors. And more signs to come.

By Angela Lovely
Legible London monolith with artwork

"Make Bankers Pay" on Legible London sign in Bloomsbury. Each sign is different and artwork tailored to each location, says Camden Council.

It seems my article about Legible London sending tourists in the wrong direction sent transport planners into a tizz. Fitzrovia News received a call and an email to say that all was well with Legible London in Camden and mistakes on signs will be corrected toute de suite. I'm glad to see someone's reading my articles and finding them helpful. My mother will be proud of my public service record. Apparently these planks are so popular that more are on their way. They even stimulate passing trade for local businesses. We are going to walk our way out of budget cuts and economic recession. Well that's jolly good news. With all this talk about the Council cutting services for the young and the elderly I'm glad to hear that the public is behind this scheme of wayfinding and that the powers that be are not losing their sense of direction.

Legible London monolith at Byng Place, Bloomsbury with corrected Fitzrovia label and unique artwork.

Legible London monolith at Byng Place, Bloomsbury with corrected Fitzrovia label and unique artwork.

A spokesperson for Camden Council said:

We apologise for the error on the Legible London wayfinding sign at Byng Place and we have arranged for the panel to be corrected as quickly as possible. We have also put in place an improved quality assurance system to prevent errors in future. Over 70 unique Legible London signs have been installed in the borough in the last two years with a further 30 in progress. Each sign is different and the artwork tailored to each location. The signs are proving very popular and have been shown to encourage more walking journeys helping to reduce congestion on public transport, stimulate passing trade for local businesses and promote healthy sustainable transport.

One of my colleagues was dragged out of bed to respond to this. Once he was slapped about a bit and given a few cups of coffee he managed to fire off a question in return.

“What evidence have you for the signs encouraging more walking and stimulating passing trade for local businesses?” said Fitzrovia News’s chief researcher.

Camden were swift to respond with a sortie of statistics which reveal that these planks are popular and have been thoroughly researched.

The surveys included approximately 1,000 user surveys, pedestrian counts and a number of ‘mystery shopper’ and accompanied walks.

83% percent of pedestrians agree that Legible London will help people find their way. The surveys provided evidence that Legible London was helpful not just for tourists and visitors. Amongst Londoners, and those who visit London more than once a week, over 65% said it would help them find their way too

One person every 90 seconds was stopping to use the busiest monoliths that have been installed and therefore overall it is likely that between 50,000 and 75,000 people are using the new monoliths each weekday (based on the counts at a sample of different monolith locations). Overall users are extremely supportive of Legible London, with 87% supporting roll out of the scheme across London

These user attitudes and perceptions are backed up by the hard facts from the mystery shopper walks. In areas where Legible London has been implemented, survey results showed that the number of times pedestrians got lost on a journey fell by 65%, and the number of times they wanted wayfinding information and couldn’t find it fell by 75%. This has no doubt contributed to the 4% reduction in average journey times that was measured by the evaluation.

Well that’s pretty impressive. I must admit I’m not really hot on statistics. But I remember as a small child getting lost in a strange town and wandering around in tears because I couldn’t find my way back to my mum. So it’s reassuring that these minding monoliths are there to guide us. Of course, nowadays my mum would have been arrested for losing me in the first place.

2 Comments on Mystery shoppers say monoliths reduce journey times

  1. “survey results showed that the number of times pedestrians got lost on a journey fell by 65%, and the number of times they wanted wayfinding information and couldn’t find it fell by 75%. ”

    Perhaps I am a cynic, but if they ‘got lost on a journey’ or could not find “wayfaring information” the poor pedestrians were not in a position to register their opinion. They were “lost”.

    But there seems a lack of a base cohort to test these statistics against. Before the planks appeared, ‘wayfarers’ had to ask their way or use a map.

    So how do the supplied percentiles compare to these alternative forms of ‘wayfaring’?

    I am not good at statistics either, but can write gobbledegook as well as anyone.

  2. I’m a fan of wayfaring signs and consider them akin subway maps, which visitors especially couldn’t do without. I found these statistics particularly interesting because I have also designed wayfinding signs but the clients have never had the inclination or money to pay for a study. Instead, I’ve watched people study them and take pictures with cell phones – sometimes just the maps and sometimes posing.

    PS: Love the “Make Bankers Pay” artwork. A’int that the truth! Here in the US we have increasing numbers of people over the past few years being sent to jail for small amounts of credit card debt, but not a single g*ddamn banker. They’ve robbed us and paid themselves bonuses, reinstated debtor’s prison, removed collective bargaining rights, and snowed more than a few people that it’s all necessary because of “the economic crisis” that they precipitated. It’s not tea I want to dump in the harbor (excuse the reference please) – it’s bankers and their politicians!

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