Why the London Tube Map May Need a New Design


Max. Maybe I can start with you. You're a cube map obsessive. It's very famous map. Of course the many Londoners think is a thing thing of beauty. But you're not so sure about it. Can you explain why you see some problems with the London Tube Map. The main problem is that although the networks expanded founded massively since the nineteen thirty maps exactly the same size as it was when Henry Beck. I did a sketch so having absorbed more and more stations at the same size is and the other thing. Is that the map pretty well. Dates from the year. Two Thousand and it wasn't designed with Elise overground extensions in mind and they've just added the monroe thinking about. Is this the right way to do things. So there's been quite horrible geographical nasties on it now stations which have well out of place. which now they're showing walking's change on matchy disorientating so it's crushed? Up is all twisted up. And it's geographic wrong as well which is about as bad as you can get from out. They do try and tweak it and change it and every time they do. That seems to be another round of controversy people who don't like that thing being tinkered with coming from the nineteen thirties that Mr back may they still want to keep hold it. Why is it so difficult to change it because if you change your property they'd have to and make a bigger? She's a paper on that gives you also logistical problems. It's more expensive to print distributes and on racks and they're trying to save money with his anyway if you sort of feel the thickness of the paper compared with ten years ago. It's pretty floppy least we're talking about and we're going to be looking some very physical maps maps on paper maps. The here in London were used to sing posted up in stations. But a lot of the work that you've done is looking at maps in a kind social media agent at an age of technology. Are we wrong to be thinking about their representation always as pieces of papers physical maps that even this kind of data for tube map is a revolution that needs to happen so that we can see on phones in better ways is more designed for today's technology will there's two ways of looking at this right because in many ways kind of we're being away from using maps a tool like mice people in London. We'll probably have city map. Worldnet the phone and they can just put in where exactly that going and it will just tell you get on this line then gallon this London. Gallon this boss. Whatever is I've had to look at the map or undo the understanding astounding yourself in some ways that is easier? It's easier not to have to kind of follow things through but then touchy have understanding of kind of how it works walks especially if it because that's what I'm good until the cheap breaks down and your cheap station you've never heard over and you out and you have to try and figure out. Okay where actually our amway in relation to anything so there is a sense in which it's still as important to have. A map is easily understandable. You can understand how everything into relates and whether it's on paper oil scrolling around screen I think ultimately is always going to be useful to have that map and I think even most of the APPS do have like a backup mode. Where if you're off line they'll have downloaded map? If all else fails you'll be able to go Nikola and Laura. You're joining us from the United States. This is the London. Intrude map crop up for you as a topic of interest. Yes so I on a West Coast Bureau chief at city lab where we write about urban policy and politics texted. We just closed out Three months long essay series on the power of maps in personal lives to sort of shape personal snow histories and we had a lot of submissions about our readers and writers attachments to the transit maps in their cities. Kind of how the subway maps or bus route maps helped open up a new kind of understanding of the place that they lived in and I think it as one of the few remaining kind of common. I'm in touch points that we have in twenty first century urban life. Even if you know we're no longer using paper maps to necessarily navigate as much anymore. I do think that like these. He's common paper. Maps do become a shared understanding of the places we live and I think can really kind of lock people over when changes suggested or made and one really interesting fact about the Linden map is a story that came out of some research a couple of years ago and that was a pair of economists. Messed look at what happened when a branch between two London tube stations was shut down as a result of a strike in two thousand seventeen and they studied the paths that the passengers made when they were not navigating the tube underground and solely on the basis of the maps and they actually found that passengers. I discovered that there was a much shorter route in navigating between Paddington station. In Bond Street station when they were actually traveling on the street versus is traveling from Paddington Station to station underground and that was solely because of how distorted the map was in that particular spot. And so it's really interesting story. That highlights the stark differences between reality and the kind of shared truth. I think these transit maps create a woman in encourage people to walk more of an environments. That is a problem with it on the map. Isn't it because often people look at you map. And they think I need to get on the tube guy between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. It looks a long way and they didn't realize that today one hundred meters apart. The distorted map isn't very good. We have a new way. Finding finding system in Las Years in London tries to encourage people to see what the walking distance is our. Is that another argument. Potentially changing the London subway map that it just really doesn't match with the passenger needs in a way I mean it is a thing. Remember having an argument with people about fifteen years ago and all of us living in London this and people who he wanted to see me we were in town and they are going to come up. We need to get the tube from necessary. Cone gone. Took me pretty about as long to argue my case that we didn't we need to do that as we could've walking it. But the lack of geographic information can be a problem and I lived in places the on really represents excellent cheap. Mumps I lived somewhere where it was sort of very vaguely could of Finsbury Park but it wasn't really if that wasn't the nearest station but the nearest station nationwide train station. That wasn't on the tube map. So there are these places that sort of exist in London but sort of fall out of existence because they're not represented on the one map of London. Everyone's aware of an eye so my now that sort of I lived in Nepal which is on the cross rail lines. So it's a place that is coming into existence. Finally after years of being on some national rail line and no one cared about. It's going to be one day across you'll ever opens on the tube map and it's interesting. That does obviously have as well as the consequences. It out by transplanting structuring better. It probably just helped the exists on the map for things like property prices and kind of just awareness of as a place. You might want to go because these places are invisible. They're represented which is kind of interesting thing about the fact that it's a a map that's not a map because it doesn't actually necessarily have to represent present anything other than the sheep

Coming up next