I’m very impressed with this map. The brain child of Simon Parker, a fomer student and mini-cab driver, the London cycling map attempts to do for cycling what the London underground map does for the tube; tame its complexity and make it simpler.
Working on the premise that the London cycle network falls victim to its own complexity – lacking a more holistic approach to cycle transit – the map recognises the system’s inherent interconnectedness* and uses a colour coded system to bind directional routes together.
Parker’s idea of colour coding the maps according to an adapted compass orientation (5 axis rather than 4) is a rather good one. It has the advantage of always offering the cycling routes in relatively straight lines (in common with Henry Beck’s Tube map) and pulls together several existing cycle tracks to form one single directional unit. This dispenses with the fine detail that can serve to confuse (in other words, forget hopping from one path to another, follow red and go West young man…) enabling the cyclist to focus on colour rather than route number(s). Very beneficial to those with memory issues like me**. The short film below, articulates – and advocates – its use quite well.
Aside from the relatively minor issues of available volunteers and mapping expertise, I see no reason as to why this type of approach couldn’t benefit other cities. A lack of official cycle routes need not be a limiting factor; local knowledge can fill in the gaps and identify quieter streets, roads and parks. Perhaps over time, unofficial routes will get official recognition.
More details about the London cycle map campaign can be found here.
*As fans of the Dirk Gently books will know, interconnectedness is a very satisfying word***.
**I can barely remember what I had for lunch.
***Well I like it anyway.