Last year, I travelled to Japan and Thailand with my husband and 1-year-old son. We rode trains, buses, boats and even a tuk tuk with our luggage and stroller in tow. My son rested comfortably in his stroller as we navigated through airports, subway stations, busy cities and tiny villages with an unfamiliar ease. Even with the language barrier, wayfinding signage was clear and plentiful, elevators were everywhere and strangers offered help - often. The experience was jarringly opposite to traveling around New York City.
Only about a quarter of the 472 subway stations in New York City have elevators and many neighborhoods with large populations under 5, like Long Island City, Queens and South Beach, Staten Island are located far from Accessible Stations. The Subway is the primary mode of transportation for most New Yorkers, but a trip on the subway with a stroller requires equal measures of both luck and planning. There isn’t a simple, intuitive way to map a stroller-friendly route on the subway, accessible stations are rare and elevators are in a constant state of disrepair.
I started working on Wayfinder NYC when we returned from our trip. Wayfinder NYC is a digital tool which leverages technology and information to empower caregivers to navigate the subway system easily, with their children and strollers. My ultimate goal is to build a free-to-use, progressive web application which allows users to dynamically map stroller-friendly routes.
The first phase of Wayfinder NYC was the creation of the gender-neutral, stroller-friendly icon. The icon was used to denote stroller-friendly stations on the official version of the current MTA map;
The first version of the map is currently available as a .pdf download
The initial version of the map is static and the designation of stroller accessibility is based on stations with elevator access. ADA accessibility isn’t the same as stroller accessibility, a key initiative of the next stage of the project is to incorporate more real-world information specific to caregivers with strollers.
Technology routinely underserves women, people of color and mothers - I happen to be all three, making me uniquely qualified to design and build tech-based solutions which serve my community. As a proud Mother, Brooklyn native and MotherCoder, Wayfinder NYC is way my of utilizing technology to improve the daily lives of New York City caregivers.