HAZARD—Those happening through downtown Hazard this summer may notice a few, small differences as they walk down the sidewalks. Walking signs have popped up throughout the downtown Hazard area, pointing walkers, joggers, and bikers to the many attractions the city has to offer.
Nicole Justian, coordinator with InVision Hazard, said the signs were part of an initiative with the downtown revitalization group to get more people downtown this summer.
“The signs are basically encouraging people to get out and walk around downtown,” Justian said of the signs, which point walkers int he direction of certain attractions with how long it should take in minutes to walk there. “We want people to experience downtown through maybe different eyes than you would have if you were in a car.”
The idea to put the signs up in Hazard actually came after hearing about another, more urban, city doing the same thing, Justian said.
At a conference earlier this year, Justian said she and her coworkers had the chance to hear from a speaker who had started this initiative in his city.
“The signs were actually inspired by a campaign we saw at a conference we went to … One of the speakers at the conference had actually talked about this company that he started called ‘Walk Your City,’ and they came up with the idea of doing kind of a tactical urbanism way of getting people out and walking around the city,” Justian said.
“Walk Your City” was able to get more people out walking and exploring their city by literally showing them where to go and how easy it was to get there—something InVision thought might just work in Hazard, she added.
Justian said with a $50 donation from local business owner Susan Brotherton and from a local business, Ad Maxx Advertising, the group was able to print nine temporary signs.
The signs point travelers to a number of places in Hazard, including People’s Park on Main Street, to the Peace Garden on North Main Street, and even to the Bobby Davis Park and Museum via the stairs that start on Memorial Gym Hill.
“We have all these great parks and things down here that people should get out and use more,” Justian said. “It also is a way of finding how to get to city hall or the courthouse if you’re unsure.”
Justian added that the project really aims to combat two problems in Hazard—one being getting more people to come downtown, and the other being getting people to realize they can walk places and that it’s actually not so bad for them if they can.
“I think one of the challenges in a rural setting is that it really only takes like 10 minutes to get from one side of town to the other, so, it’s not like people are necessarily out walking … Our idea was more to encourage people to use some of the parks and things like that that aren’t getting used as much right now, and to just get out and move,” she said.
The signs that are up now are temporary, Justian repeated, meaning that if there are more ideas of places to point travelers to then signs can be added or changed.
“I think it’s definitely something that we can expand on in the future—into different areas if it’s perceived well in the community—and downtown isn’t the only place that people can walk. If it goes into the Perry County Park and places like that, it’d be good,” she said.
Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.