DOT Unveils Sidewalk Compass Markings

If you’re a directionally-challenged pedestrian, as I am, and often have to rely on sun and skyline to tell you which way is up, this one’s for you.

compass.jpgFrom the DOT:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 12:30 pm at 150 East 42nd:  

New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Grand Central Partnership (GCP) President/CEO Fred Cerullo and MTA CEO Lee Sander will unveil new directional compass decals on sidewalks at subway exits in Midtown Manhattan. The compasses will display the name of the street the decal is on, and what street lies one block in each direction, helping pedestrians and exiting subway passengers quickly orient themselves.

It’s unclear if the decals will be exclusive to Midtown, though that’s the way it looks at this point. Here’s hoping they’ll eventually be installed elsewhere. In the meantime, chalk this up as another hit for the "new DOT."

  • Clarence Eckerson

    Our DOT is so cool! (OK, never thought I would say that.) Even though I am very good with directions sometimes it’d be nice to have this when coming out of a subway…

  • pedant

    Will “north” on these decals point uptown or to magnetic north? They differ by about 29 degrees.

  • mg

    SWEET. Though most subway exits will tell you which corner you’re exiting on (this concept took at least 2 days to explain to one of my friends.)

  • rfr

    Grid north vs. magnetic north vs. true north. And for good measure, what about adding an indicator pointing towards Mecca? I’ve seen many Muslim street vendors taking time out for midday prayers, but have noticed a lack of consensus on which way to face.

  • Ray

    My first thought was, this is a GREAT idea! And i still think it’s a pretty good idea, but I can’t help but see this as one more reason for tourists to stop in the middle of the sidewalk and obstruct traffic.

  • v

    thank goodness. some other cities have these, and they are *awesome*

  • Clarence Eckerson

    Ray. Maybe, but it will also get rid of the most frequent question tourists ask NYers, “Which way is 5th Avenue, that way or that way?”

    So it will save us all time in the long run, though I always love to answer the queries from cute seniors from out of town.

  • Sadik-Khan for emperor! This is fantastic. I’ve seen suggestions for exactly this for years, but never thought I’d see the day…

  • fdr

    Before you anoint Sadik-Khan as emperor, take note that this was an idea submitted by a private citizen that Weinshall endorsed. DOT has been working on this for over a year.

  • Brian

    This makes me want to cry.

    Directional clues was what the WTC used to provide for anyone in Midtown.

    People became lost coming out of a subway on 9/12/01.

  • Emperor

    Before the annointing ceremony, consider this was also an idea publicly floated when 14th street was reconstructed back in the early 1990’s.

    You annointers are really getting ahead of yourself.

  • the mag declination for this area this year is around 14 degrees,(13.9). nothing that will make a difference navigating the city.
    the compass are a great idea , i have always wondered why there was nothing to indicate your direction when leaving a subway station. great that the DOT is implementing this.

    i also use hopstop street viewes i have time so i know which way to go when exiting a subway station.

  • SPer

    I have wanted these for years! In spite of those signs inside the subways, every now and then I have that experience of getting above ground, heading confidently off in the direction I need to go, only to realize a block or so on that I’m going the wrong way. Then comes the most peculiar sensation of proprioceptive disorientation, where I correct course for still, for several seconds, don’t *feel* that I’m going the right way, and somewhat effortfully revolve the world (and the location of the Hudson or the East River) into it’s correct position.

  • Steven

    Chicago has had these for some time on the Red Line downtown.

  • Scott

    Midtown is easy to navigate… if you can see two streets, you can orient yourself.

    Downtown is the hard one.


DOT Will Fill in Most of the Second Avenue Bike Lane Gap in Midtown

DOT will present plans this spring to fill most, but not all, of the remaining gaps in the north-south protected bike lanes on the East Side of Manhattan. Significantly, DOT intends to create a physically protected bike lane on Second Avenue between 59th Street and 43rd Street. Combined with the bike lane extension coming to the Upper East Side […]

This Week: Vision Zero, JSK Book Launch, Fixing Chrystie Street

Registration has closed for Transportation Alternatives’ 2016 Vision Zero Conference, coming up at the end of this week, but if you couldn’t snag a ticket there’s still plenty to do in the world of safe streets advocacy. Former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is out with a new book, Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution, about how to make change […]