Ever since Harry Beck designed his iconic schematic map of the London Underground in 1933, other transit agencies have followed suit with their own abstract maps. Transit routes are shown as color-coded straight lines with sharp turns. Stops are equidistant, and the physical geography is omitted.
Navigating Tokyo’s rail transit was easy for me as a teen growing up in a western suburb of Tokyo. I just needed to know walking directions from a station near my destination. I could look at the JNR Tokyo map and quickly determine which trains to take and where to transfer.
Transit agencies create abstract maps to highlight the network structure of the system. Who cares if you’re crossing a river if all you need to know is the connecting line between two stations?
Schematic bicycle maps
I overlayed a Google map of the region over that famous 1896 California cycling map from George Blum’s 80 page guide to cycle touring.
If I feel ambitious I might overlay a modern bike map – either Google’s bike layer, or the bike layer from OSM.
You can download the original image from the Library of Congress. Buy poster sized prints of this map from Zazzle. It would make a great gift, don’t you think?
While looking at the California Bicycle Crash Map last night I noticed something interesting: Although Southern California has twice the population of Northern California, the same number of bike crashes — thirteen — are reported to the California Highway Patrol for each region.
The folks behind Walk Score have applied their numerical methodology to the “bike friendliness” of several U.S. and Canadian cities to rank them with “Bike Score.”
MapQuest adds a bicycle option to the “Open” version of their online directions service.
MapQuest’s bike routing API uses OpenStreetMap data to preferentially route cyclists on bike facilities. It works well when the data is complete and connected, but fails completely when the data isn’t there. This tutorial shows how you can help complete the data.