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what woud you like to know about Legible London?

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#1
electric angel

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i'm meeting with transport for london on wednesday to chat about their legible london project. this is in connection with a project i'm working on (quick explanation in my intro) which takes cognitive mapping as one of its starting points.

it's a well-documented project although we do have a stack of questions we'd like to ask about the project, but i just wondered what questions you would ask?

i'll feedback my experience/impression on here if that's of interest.

#2
Nick H

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This is going to make me sound like Prince Charles. What the streets of London need is a ruthless de-cluttering. By this I mean getting rid of what these people call 'street furniture', including objects such as that shown on the 'Legible London' home page. Things like these have nothing of London about them, you can see mediocre stuff like this anywhere in the world. Theses things are insulting because they treat people like idiots and they make life more confusing, not simpler.

Provided that the streets have their names up (which they do), all you need to navigate in London is a local map, one piece of A4 that you can fold up and put in your pocket. These could be given away at tube stations and on the buses.

Tell that to Boris :) .

Regards, N.
Caversham, Reading, England.

#3
electric angel

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lol. if i see him i will!

one of the aims of legible london is to declutter the streets - they reckon they'll reduce the amount of signage by a significant percentage (haven't got the doc to hand, so can't quote exact amount). but it does rather look as if the new signage (or 'miniliths' as i believe they're called) are so much bigger than what they'll be pulling up.

i'd already got noted down to ask about the generic look - same as bristol, brighton, leeds etc etc as far as i can see. as a graphic designer i also find this interesting from a branding/image perspective.

#4
Nick H

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Thanks for taking my rather intemperate reply above in the spirit in which it was intended. As a matter of fact it was only on Sunday that I tried to use the Transport for London (TFL) journey planner to plan a walking route from Paddington Station to the V&A. What you get is a little animation of a walking person trotting down Sussex Gardens, across the park and down Exhibition Road, which is all very well. What I really wanted was a map, but when I tried to download one all I received was one showing the roads and the route, but with no street names. Very useful, not. This pongs of an OS copyright issue to me, perhaps TFL should be using Open Street Map. Yesterday, however, we did succeed in walking from the station to the V&A, but few thanks to TFL.

Regarding the proposed street furniture, it's not just Bristol, Brighton and Leeds, you could add Zurich, Stockholm and any other town in the world to the list. Blue, yellow, brushed stainless steel with some perversion of Gill Sans, designed with a ruthless arrogance to be obtrusive ('stand-out' is the term they use, if I remember rightly). I think these repellent things represent attempts to transform our towns into full-scale maps of themselves.

Clean, simple area maps are what is needed, perhaps ones designed after taking a sideways look at the style of the old Underground map. But please, something that has just a little of the town about it.

Regards, N.
Caversham, Reading, England.

#5
electric angel

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we went, we saw, we got slightly lost. but who doesn't in london?

the lady we spoke at at TfL gave some very candid answers to our questions - it was nice they weren't trying to 'sell' the scheme to us but openly evaluating how it might work.

they didn't really have an answer to how AIG seem to be rolling out carbon copies of this across the UK although it was clearly something they're wondering themselves. i was asking more from the point of view of creating/preserving a unique identity of london but we quickly hit upon the problem that if less considered but visually identical maps are used in other cities does that erode the confidence one has in london's wayfaring system?

for the record, i'm not criticising AIG for spreading their system far and wide, especially if it is the best roll out-able wayfaring system of the moment. it's just that each use of it makes london's less innovative, especially when they're taking quite an in-depth approach to it. that would rankle with me.

Posted Image

the other thing that struck me was to do with the tube map. ironically, this iconic much-praised map has so influenced how people travel and mentally map london, that it has eroded their geographical understanding and knowledge of the city. this in turn places an over-reliance on the tube as a means of travel and it's becoming a never ending spiral sucking in ever-increasing numbers of unnecessary passengers and spitting them out the other end with less knowledge of their city.

want to solve the problem simply? ditch the tube map for something geographically more accurate. maybe it's not quite the design classic it's held up to be...

#6
Nick H

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I used to live in London and it's true that for a time the town comprised islands centred on tube stations, but of course the islands soon began to merge. This is just a part of getting to know a place. One supposes that objects such as the one in the picture above aren't intended for people who know the town, but for visitors, who will find them confusing. I quite like cast-iron finger posts, they do at least tell you something you might want to know, such as the direction in which you have to walk to get somewhere.

Is there really any evidence that the Underground map has influenced the way that people travel? The Underground can be a pretty dehumanising experience, but it gets you to where you want to be reasonably efficiently. During the rush-hour the bus can take you an hour and a half to get from Stoke Newington to Bond Street. This is why people use the tube.

The tube map tells it's story very effectively in my opinion and anyway you'd tamper with it at your peril :rolleyes: . Bus maps I find more confusing and it might be a good idea to think about ways of improving them.

Just one word on the proposed street objects, I might be wrong but I sense that change is happening, the pendulum is swinging away from bog-standard GlobeTrash® like this and I think they might date very rapidly.

Regards,
Nick.
Caversham, Reading, England.

#7
electric angel

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yeah, the tube map is something of a masterpiece - hard to think of anything clearer and easier to use to get you around the tube network.

but as a map of how to travel around london it's not as helpful. it's actually a very selfish map that sees the tube network as separate (superior?) to the geography of the city. it forgets that the tube is there to help people get from place A to place B, not from Station A to Station B.

#8
gregsd

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yeah, the tube map is something of a masterpiece - hard to think of anything clearer and easier to use to get you around the tube network.

but as a map of how to travel around london it's not as helpful. it's actually a very selfish map that sees the tube network as separate (superior?) to the geography of the city. it forgets that the tube is there to help people get from place A to place B, not from Station A to Station B.


In the latest issue of The Cartographic Journal there's a paper that might be interest:

The Influence of Map Design on Route Choice from Public Transportation Maps in Urban Areas

Abstract:

Based on a user study in the Internet, this research analyses how map design and annotated network information in public transportation maps affect utilized proxy criteria when planning the fastest route in an intra-urban transportation network. Further, it is examined whether annotated network information on schematic maps affects the map reader in successfully finding the fastest route within the trip planning process. For this second task, a schematic map and maps with annotated headways, departure times and current positions of transit vehicles are compared.


Greg Driver

GIS Analyst
MapInfo User...!

#9
Nick H

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Thanks for posting the abstract, Greg. Would it be possible for someone to translate this into something resembling English? I've tried and I'm stumped :( .

Regards,
Nick.
Caversham, Reading, England.




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