Lighting it Up

By David M. Feehan

Some years ago, when I was president of the Downtown Community Alliance in Des Moines, Iowa, I had a conversation with then-City Manager Eric Anderson about signage and wayfinding.

I argued we should take responsibility for a visitor’s journey into downtown and to a parking place from the time they entered the city. In other words, signage should guide them from their point of entry to a safe, secure, and inviting parking facility. Eventually, we agreed in concept and decided to examine signage and wayfinding on all major routes leading into downtown.

It was some time later that I served on a parking panel in Seattle with Todd Pierce, president of Pictoform. When Todd heard about our new book, Design Downtown for Women – Men Will Follow, he sent me a lengthy and helpful memo regarding how to make parking garages friendlier for women.

One of his key suggestions has to do with “the first 20 feet,” and he recommended that parking garage owners and operators greatly brighten up the first 20 feet of any parking garage entrance. Such a simple idea! And yet how many times have you pulled into a garage and your first impression is what a dark place it is? It leads to the perception voiced by one woman we interviewed for the book: “Most parking garages are dark, dull, dirty, and dangerous.”

The memo included a long list of great suggestions garage owners can use to make parking facilities more woman-friendly. But first, remember that famous line from the Bible: “Let there be light.”

David M. Feehan is president of Civitas Consultants, LLC.

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