Matt Tomasulo spoke to the club Wednesday December 9th about his vision for urban pedestrain activity and how his startup, Walk [Your City] makes it a reality. Matt is an Urban Designer and founder of Walk [Your City], a pedestrian-focused civic startup working to get more feet on the street through a unique blend of planning and technology. Matt has earned national and international recognition for his work in city planning, design and development. His work was included in the 13th Venice Biennale and he is a NextCity Vanguard, holding a dual masters degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in City & Regional Planning and NC State in Landscape Architecture. Matt lives and works in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina and recently ran for Raleigh City Council At-Large: finishing behind the two long time incumbents by only 5%.

Walk Raleigh, now Walk [Your City], was conceptualized from experiences in European pedestrian behavior coupled with academic research in urban development. After determining that people would consider walking if they knew that the time it took was reasonable (versus knowing a distance) the idea of way-signs with walking time to destinations was born. At first, they placed signs at three intersections in Raleigh, advising people how long it takes to walk from one destination to another. In addition to the walking time to a point of interest, the signs have QR codes that allow pedestrians to access directions on their smartphones. The signs weren’t legal but they looked official and everyone assumed they were approved. When the BBC contacted Matt for an interview, he invited the Raleigh planning director Mitchell Silver to attend. After the realization that the signs weren’t legal, they had to be taken down, but were soon back up with the approval of Silver’s department. The signs tell pedestrians how many minutes of walking it takes to reach nearby shops, restaurants and other attractions.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina funded a program for 80 way-finding signs in downtown Durham and in the Six Forks corridor near downtown Raleigh. More were installed to mark an African-American heritage trail in Raleigh’s South Park neighborhood. The concept has been growing in other cities as well. The signs are now in 50 countries on 6 continents.

Find out more about Matt and Walk [Your City] on the web: