Legible London 10 year anniversary (part 1)

Passenger information then and now

A tube map and a bus timetable. That was all you had to navigate in 1980’s London. The problem was that you had no way of knowing that the distance between Leicester Square and Covent Garden, two neighbouring stations on the Piccadilly line, are a very pleasant 10 minute walk apart. In fact you would probably have walked further than that underground!
(See this tube map with actual walk times).

Today, with a lot more travel options and millions more visitors and commuters making their way around London, the city is vastly more connected, not less. Legible London maps enable this connectivity by helping people understand their surroundings, thereby promoting walking, cycling and public transport.

Pedestrians using a Legible London sign

Legible London is a vast achievement with over 10,000 unique maps regularly updated around Greater London from the same iconic basemap. The familiar legible map design, associated with quality and accuracy, is used consistently across all modes of transport served by Transport for London (TfL).

Legible London has inspired over 30 cities around the world to design similar wayfinding maps (this blog will study many of these) and remains an important case study for cities interested in implementing their own wayfinding system. Here are some of the success factors and growth stages of Legible London:

Developing a policy for walking and wayfinding

A new governance structure in 2000 saw a directly elected Mayor of London, with responsibility for transport policy, delivered by the new functional body Transport for London. This consolidation of management has had a major beneficial effect on transport policies, including walking and cycling.

At the same time sustainability issues such as environment, health and congestion were causing cities around the world to actively promote walking as a mode of transport. Walking as an important theme of policy development during the five years leading up Legible London can be seen in a large number of official reports from that time:
Streets for All: A guide to the management of London’s streets, 2000
Produced by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, this is a guide to the management of London’s streets.

Encouraging walking: advice to local authorities, 2000
Advice to local authorities from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions with the aim of encouraging walking.

Economic Benefits of Good Walking Environments, 2003
A study commissioned by the Central London Partnership to demonstrate the economic benefits of walking and public realm improvements for businesses in London.

Westminster Way: a public realm manual for the City, 2004
Part of a suite of public realm management tools commissioned by Westminster City Council, this is a public realm manual for the City

Making London a walkable city, 2004
A Walking Plan for London from the Mayor of London

Improving walkability, 2005
A guide on improving pedestrian conditions as part of development opportunities, by Transport for London, aimed at local authorities and developers.

One of the reports which was most influential to Legible London was a study in 2004 by Gehl Architects: Towards a fine city for people. Public spaces and public life.
The report analysed London’s traffic, pedestrian and cycling environments, looking carefully at pedestrian activities. It studied ways of getting around including footway interruptions, crossings, underpasses; sitting in the city and aesthetics such as shop frontages and pleasant green areas. Gehl concluded that London suffered from a domination of vehicular traffic at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists. It recommended:

  1. create a better balance between vehicular traffic, pedestrians and cyclists
  2. improving conditions for walking and cycling
  3. improving conditions for resting and simply passing time
  4. upgrading the visual quality of the streetscape
  5. promoting a shift in mind-sets towards a more people-orientated city culture

Gehl’s report was well received by the Mayor’s office, inspiring more research on pedestrian wayfinding. “This study gives us all the confidence to build on our city’s many outstanding and unique qualities to create a network of better places and ultimately to make London a more livable city” – Richard Rogers, Chief Advisor to the Mayor

The Legible London proposal

Another study in 2006 by AIG link:http://content.tfl.gov.uk/ll-yellow-book.pdf set out a case for wayfinding signage: “Walking can lead to major benefits for the transport system, economy and public health. Predictable, consistent and authoritative public information is the key to building pedestrians’ confidence.”

This report also found that the many pedestrian signage systems in central London are incoherent and often confusing. Causing people to rely on the Tube map to find their way around above ground.

With sound business case generated for Legible London two subsequent pilots were commissioned around Bond Street, 2007, and Richmond, Covent Garden and the South Bank, 2009-11. The findings from these pilots were very encouraging indeed:

  • Legible London reduces pedestrian journey times by 16% (Bond Street area)
  • 85% of users commended how easy and intuitive LL is
  • 91% of those surveyed supported the plan to install the system London-wide
  • 23% reported that Legible London made them more confident wayfinders
  • 32% of users stated that the system reduces feelings of ‘being lost’
  • LL signs attracted 40 unique users per hour, on average
Stages of implementation

Once a full roll-out was decided upon T-Kartor was commissioned to develop a city-wide mapping database following the specification of the pilot maps. This constantly maintained basemap would be the core of a system used to create all Legible London products in the future – a number which has exceeded 20,000 maps!

The stages of Legible London development

••• Pilot evaluation
The pilot consultation project took over two years including: developing naming conventions, stakeholder workshops, place naming research, content selection procedures, design and user testing.
••• Legible London Database delivery
The basemap was created in stages focussing on areas of greatest need for map products. The first deadline was the introduction of TfL Cycle Hire in June 2010, with the full extent of Greater London created in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
••• Legible London becomes ‘Business as Usual’
‘Business as Usual’ refers to the vast quantity of regular information products regularly updated by TfL at bus stops, stations and interchanges. With the completion of the wayfinding basemap, Legible London mapping replaced all other maps as the official TfL style of map information.
••• London 2012 Olympic Games
Legible London was used for a vast amount of special wayfinding information to help 5 million extra visitors navigate around London during the Games. This included tear-off map sheets centred on 70 temporary information centres, station hot-spot diversion maps and 5m copies of the official Host City map.
••• New strategy proposals and evaluation
An evaluation was carried out during 2013 by Steer Davies Gleave to measure sign usage, understand the impact of Legible London on wayfinding and understand the helpfulness of Legible London to users. The results of this research provided an evidence base to further develop the coverage of Legible London across the capital.
••• New products and technologies & commercial expansion
TfL has made consistent efforts to invest and develop the value of Legible London. This investment includes maintenance and growth of the basemap e.g. to cover new developments such as the Elizabeth Line. Several pilots have been carried out to trial digital or interactive information products. Current research into the future of digital wayfinding proposes that while mobile and online planning tools are fundamentally changing wayfinding, there is no major demand to overhaul and digitise map assets. This is because of Legible London’s status as valued and trusted information and the power of the mental map created by ‘heads-up’ mapping.

The value in supporting Legible London as a living and breathing system is exemplified by way it continues to attract investment. This funding allows for continuous maintenance of the basemap, expansion of the scheme into new town centres across London, and development of new LL products including studies in digital executions.

Key takeaways
  1. Ten years on Legible London is a highly successful system with high value to TfL.
  2. The system was built on thorough studies of the potential for improving walkability in the capital backing consistent policies for improvement.
  3. The decision to create a pedestrian wayfinding system was followed by two years of studies, which form best practise inspiration for other cities to learn from.
  4. Regular evaluation and improvement have lead to a robust system which retains high value going into the future.
  5. Constant investment in maintenance, expansion and product innovation are key success factors.

City Wayfinding: how did we get here, and where are we going? (part 3)

Best practice design for City Wayfinding information is now well established, with over 30 cities around the world following the same standards. Although the look and feel of each City Wayfinding basemap reflects the character of the city in a unique way, there are a number of common elements which unite them.

1. Heads-up mapping

London Eye depicted on Legible London map

Heads-up mapping refers to maps that are rotated to the direction of view. While traditional maps face North, the pedestrian wayfinding sign helps orientation by showing features laying ahead of the sign at the top of the map. In the illustration above, the London Eye is shown visually on the map as a 3D building model. Looking beyond the sign in situ shows the real London Eye in the same field of view.

The pedestrian wayfinding totem makes orientation even easier by showing directional pointers above the map (here, straight ahead to the London Eye). Rotating the map ensures that information shown on the map does not contradict these directional arrows.

2. Landmark building illustrations

map illustration of nrg stadium

Unique and memorable landmark buildings are important visual memory aids used on City Wayfinding maps. We use landmark buildings cognitively to create a mental image of our surroundings. Seeing these buildings as illustrations on the map reinforces this mental image and will help the viewer to recognise visual cues during their walk.

Improving the legibility of a city makes people feel safer to explore and acts as a powerful encouragement to walking.

The Legible London database contains 750 landmark building models, many depicting world famous tourist destinations. These landmark buildings are modelled in 3D, making a very true-to-life visual impact on the maps. In contrast, New York’s WalkNYC Wayfinding system uses 2D wireframe diagrams. This makes sense as skyscrapers drawn to fit the building footprint would block so much of the basemap.

(The use of building illustrations on City Wayfinding mapping will be covered in depth in a future blog post.)

3. The 5 Minute walk circle

5 minute walk circle

Wayfinding basemaps are intended to be very easy and quick to understand. Rather than expecting users to appreciate distance from a scale bar, an approximate 5 minute walk is shown in relation to the ‘You Are Here’ marker.

This is an effective way to show just how easy it would be to walk, dispelling misconceptions about distance. A study carried out by Transport for London showed that for 109 journeys between neighbouring Underground stations, the journey would have been quicker by walking above ground than using the tube (and so much more pleasant)!

4. Off-map pointers


The map part of wayfinding signage tends to show a lot of detail over a limited area, often little more than a 5 minute walk. This is due to the amount of space available and the large scale of the map, but it also helps to avoid information overload.

Nearby places that are off-map are interesting as an aid to orientation as well as providing context or setting. Several methods are used, therefore, to point to places that are off-map, including large place names and arrows at the top of the sign, or illustrations with pointers in the margins (as seen on this Stockholm Wayfinding map).

5. Detailed & overview maps


An optimal scale has been arrived at for pedestrian wayfinding which comprises 2 maps with different levels of detail:
Detailed view
A scale of 1:1,000 – 1:2,500 allows enough detail to show features in the public realm which are of interest for walking, while covering the area equivalent to a 5 minute walk. Features include steps, fountains, statues, crossings and barriers to walking. Highlighting areas of interest such as parks, squares and pleasant walkways encourages users to explore on foot and to plan the most enjoyable walking routes.
1:10,000 scale provides an overview placing the detailed map in a broader context. Features which help orientation at a smaller scale include neighbouring area names, transport hubs and major topographic features e.g. rivers, railways and roads.

6. Progressive disclosure


A series of pedestrian signage totems are placed at key decisions points in the direction of travel. The information on these signposts is designed to function at several levels and distances (described in the illustration above), disclosing more information the closer they are studied.

These elements of best practise have been chosen from our studies of over 30 City Wayfinding systems around the world. We have been privileged to have worked on some of the world’s best known systems. Our next series will look in detail at Legible London, as a celebration of its 10th anniversary as a wayfinding system.


City Wayfinding: how did we get here, and where are we going? (part 2)

In our previous post, we briefly introduced Kevin A. Lynch and his pillars of city legibility; paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmarks. Mastery of these elements of an archetype legible and ‘imaginable’ city are still goals for city wayfinding systems today. However, there is enough scope and flexibility when putting these theories into practice that they permit each city to have a unique look and feel. In short, abiding by these rules of ‘good’ wayfinding need not suppress the uniqueness of a city.

To examine this further, we can compare the differences between online and on-street representations of a certain cities. We shall look at London, New York and Birmingham (UK).


A generic, homogenous map design is used by the vast majority of digital applications, even those that are targeted at specific cities, largely thanks to the dominance in this domain of Google Maps. Indeed, it is hard to propose an alternative approach given Google’s (or Apple Maps’) aim of consistently representing the whole planet in digital map form. The digital user who can make sense of a Google map of London, is likely to be equally adept at finding their way around a Google map of Paris, Tokyo or Sydney.

But this standardised approach to representing the city environment can start to have an impact on the strategies Lynch developed for effective wayfinding. For example, how legible are navigational landmarks on a homogenous map if all points of interest are given near-equal prominence? And how imaginable are distinct city districts if they are all represented in the same muted tones, flattening out differences that in the real world may be quite stark?

It is possible to effectively map and depict a city by utilising striking aspects of its character. This, in turn, results in wayfinding that adheres to Lynch’s mantra of painting vivid mental maps in the mind of the user.


London: Legible London

London is one of the most visited cities in the world, with landmark buildings and attractions so well known that it is fair to say that many new tourists to the UK’s capital probably already have strong mental images of the cityscape even before arriving. St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, all easily recognisable and symbolic of London as a whole. Legible London features about 750 of these landmarks modelled in 3D, each one instantly familiar and memorable to the user and an essential wayfinding tool.WalkNYC-new-york-wayfinding-mapping

New York: WalkNYC

New York, particularly the borough of Manhattan, is renowned for laying out its streets on a grid. The wayfinding basemap developed for the WalkNYC system adopts this structure in a rigid sense, and purposely straightens out any real-world imperfections. This avoids any minor deviations in straight line paths that would otherwise be distracting and untidy. Pavement widths, rounded corners, near-parallel routes were all adjusted geometrically on the WalkNYC basemap, resulting in a map design that promotes the block and grid characteristic as the most important element of this wayfinding system.

The WalkNYC colour palette, designed by resident New York design agency Pentagram, has been deliberately selected to allow the cities existing transit iconography and signage to shine through. Dating back to the work of Massimo Vignelli in the 1970s, this instantly recognisable work of graphic design is considered so iconic that it has become an essential part of New York’s public image. It is therefore paramount that any wayfinding system employs high profile elements such as fonts and colours used for subway line, not only to be in harmony with pre-existing signage systems but also to reflect the NYC look and feel.birmingham-wayfinding-maps

Birmingham, UK: Interconnect West Midlands

The colours employed on a particular wayfinding basemap need not be confined to the background. In Birmingham, for example, the Interconnect West Midlands system takes its cue from the area’s strong industrial tradition, with beige and grey shades reflecting the stone brick character of the UK’s second most populous city. The modern face of the city is rapidly developing, with redesigned and repurposed quarters being created in and amongst areas that still reference the past.

The wayfinding system mirrors this desire to both look forward and to be proud of the city’s roots by allowing the highlighting of places with strong cultural heritage, such as the Jewellery Quarter, as well as emphasising parts that have found a new lease a life, like the spruced up canal paths and landmark shopping developments. Their juxtaposition on the map matches the reality on the ground, and provides for an effective wayfinding system that is both born of, and created for, the city of Birmingham.

In our next post, we will examine a handful of specific map elements, common to the wayfinding systems discussed here and found elsewhere, now established as best practice for city wayfinding systems across the globe.

City Wayfinding: how did we get here, and where are we going? (part 1)

Imageability: that quality in a physical object which gives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in any given observer. It is that shape, color, or arrangement which facilitates the making of vividly identified, powerfully structured, highly useful mental images of the environment – Kevin A. Lynch, “The Image of the City” (1960)

Legible London wayfinding sign

Today, Kevin A. Lynch is revered as a godfather of modern city wayfinding. An urban planner and a scholar, Lynch’s most influential work dates back to 1960 and a five-year study of the ways in which people imagine, perceive, map and recall a city landscape.

Lynch’s thrust was to underline how the legibility and character of an urban environment feeds into the creation of mental maps in somebody navigating the city terrain. He studied the experiences of people in three US cities; Boston, Jersey City and Los Angeles. Lynch asked participants to sketch out and describe in detail numerous trips through the city, and came to the conclusion that we make sense of our surroundings in predictable and consistent ways.

A legible city, Lynch argued, was one that utilised patterns of recognisable symbols, those that are at once easily identifiable and grouped logically. Lynch defined the elements that make up these symbols as paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmarks.

These same five elements still play a foundational role in the design of modern city wayfinding systems. 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of Legible London, a high profile example of a city wayfinding system with lineage in theories and best practice refined over the half-century since Lynch’s seminal work. And as we shall now see, Legible London is just one of a growing number of wayfinding schemes that continue to prove his thesis.

WalkNYC wayfinding system

A path in the Lynchian-sense is any route or channel along which somebody travels. Prominent, legible paths are those that lend character, and might include a concentration of specific activity or distinct facade along a street. They may follow an edge (see below) or other topographic feature. Paths should be easily identifiable, have continuity and a functional necessity. Good city wayfinding design uses paths as prominent features on a map, as in the above example from WalkNYC in New York City.

Toronto TO 360 wayfinding signage

Edges are boundaries between distinct areas: examples in the city landscape may include roads, parks, shopping districts and residential areas; or natural barriers such as water and green spaces. Edges are linear, though do not qualify as paths. The wayfinding design above, from TO360 in the City of Toronto, defines edges along a railway line and major road.

Interconnect Wayfinding map

A district is a relatively large city area with a common character, one which the observer can easily categorise. It has a homogenous character, taken from its use or function, texture, space, form, building types, inhabitants or typography. Wayfinding maps can define and lift districts graphically, or by using naming styles and conventions, as in this example from Interconnect West Midlands (Birmingham, UK).

Stockholm Wayfinding map

A node is a focus point, and highly compelling to the navigator. Squares, junctions and access to transport are examples of nodes. Paths that cross can be nodes, though too many could render them undistinguishable. A node can also be a thematic concentration, such as a commercial street corner. Nodes, as well as areas of distinct public realm, are emphasised on this map for Stockholm Regional Transport by adding extra detail to these areas.

Legible London wayfinding map

A landmark must have an element which singles it out from a host of other possibilities. The key physical characteristic is uniqueness or memorability. To be easily identifiable, it should have a clear form, contrasting with its surroundings, and some kind of spatial prominence. Careful, sparing selection of landmarks is essential in city wayfinding, with neither too many nor too few in use to allow only true landmarks to remain. These can vividly populate a user’s mental map of the city, and aid greatly to spatial awareness. Seen here on Legible London mapping.

Skilful employment of these elements not only reinforces the usefulness of a legible city wayfinding system, but also allows a city to flaunt specific aspects of its character, personality and uniqueness. And as Lynch proscribed, a city with a high imaginability will be legible, navigable, and enticing to its users.

In our next post, we will discuss how cities are seizing this opportunity to install iconic signage and mapping that reflects their own identity while retaining the tenets of effective city wayfinding.

T-Kartor roll out city wayfinding basemap for Toronto

The City of Toronto will roll out its successful TO360 Wayfinding Strategy across the entire city during 2017-2023. T-Kartor and partners Steer Davies Gleeve have been awarded the contract.

Toronto Wayfinding Strategy key milestones:
* 2007 – Walk21 Toronto Conference inspired Toronto’s Walk Strategy
* 2011/12 – TO360 Phase 1: Wayfinding Strategy and Outline Business Case
* 2014/15 – TO360 Phase II: Pilot Implementation of 61 TO360 wayfinding elements
* 2015 – Pilot evaluation
* 2017 – TO360 Phase III: Commencement of City-wide roll-out

TO360 wayfinding signs are designed to help pedestrians navigate the city in an intuitive way, with heads-up maps orientated to face direction of travel, a 5 minute walk circle to encourage walking and illustrated landmark buildings to reinforce a mental picture of the area.

T-Kartor worked alongside Steer Davies Gleave in the development of a pilot project of 62 signs, which were tested on the public with very encouraging results. People were happy to see the City taking the initiative to develop a wayfinding system, and felt it would provide a big benefit to the city:
* 13% reduction in walk times for specific journeys
* 33% increase in walking trips and 27% increase in time spent walking in the area
* Over 50% reduction in auto mode share for journeys that start and finish within the area
* Over 50% reduction in people feeling lost

The 2012 Outline Business Case was updated based on the pilot evaluation resulting in an estimated benefit-cost ratio of 3.7:1. This means that for every dollar invested, almost four dollars are returned through transportation benefits over the 25-year project life cycle (including capital costs and maintenance).

The study also confirmed that a city-wide GIS database would best serve the future requirements of the City. This core system will be totally scalable for a large number of end-users and product families, feeding into other systems (such as the PATH underground walking network, cycling network and transit routes) and providing viewers with a way to explore off-street destinations.

T-Kartor builds on experience with Legible London (Transport for London) and WalkNYC (New York City DOT). Our City Wayfinding platform has created thousands of world class wayfinding mapping products, backed up by an online portal for content management, asset management and maintenance planning.

T-Kartor local area maps for Dublin tram system

T-Kartor are providing local area maps at all Luas tram stops across Dublin when the new Luas Cross City extension goes live in December. The passenger transport maps are being provided to Ireland’s National Transport Authority in association with our partners, creative agency Catalysto.

Our maps will help travellers to find their destination when alighting at the tram stop and improve connectivity with other forms of transport nearby, including rail, bus, cycle and taxi.

We are producing these for the NTA as part of a system designed to generate affordable maps, using open data, at rail stations across Ireland. Our online management portal will be used to order and deliver the maps, and can be extended to support asset management with a geographic product overview.

With the Cross City, Dublin is getting a sought-after extension to the hugely successful Red and Green Lines developed in 2004. This new line traverses the city centre to join the existing routes, adding 13 central stops, then continues 6 km north to the rail station at Broombridge. It also connects areas north and south of the River Liffey, acting as an interchange between Luas, Bus, Rail and Taxi modes.

The Luas network has experienced passenger levels in excess of 34 million per year, and the Cross City extension is expected to increase this figure by another 8 million. It is also projected to result in 1 million fewer journeys each year by private car.

T-Kartor creates digital maps for NYC subway displays

T-Kartor's newly installed WalkNYC digital screen

New York City MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) are taking a major step towards the future of transport information design with digital screens being installed at 33 newly renovated subway stations.

T-Kartor were asked to develop a specially designed digital version of the printed local area maps we are creating for all 450 subway stations.

Optimised for low resolution
This special adaptation is necessary because digital screens, even so-called HD (high definition) screens and televisions have a very low resolution, compared to your laptop or desktop monitor. This means that smaller features and symbols, or lighter texts are rendered illegible. The images below illustrate the problem:

WalkNYC City Wayfinding maps on digital screens for New York subway maps

T-Kartor carried out a thorough study of fonts, colours and text sizes to achieve increased legibility. Finally, specially designed graphic files were tested in prototypes of the screens, including a study of the ambient conditions, which will influence colours and contrast.

The result was a fine, legible map, which a viewer will perceive as identical to the established printed brand and a wealth of expertise gained, which will form valuable input to the success of future interactive products.

In the New York press:
Brooklyn Reporter
NY Daily News

T-Kartor chosen as Small Business Supplier of the Year


Two and a half years into the “World’s Largest” Geospatial Products and Services Contract, together with Harris Corporation, we are proud to have been chosen as Harris’ Small Business Supplier of the Year. Harris motivates this choice as follows:

“T-Kartor has collaborated with Harris on various Foundation GEOINT Content Management (FGCM) Alpha-Contracting efforts, including A-DO37 and A-DO31, where they contributed valuable insights, feedback and inputs into shaping future technical and schedule requirements for FGCM task orders. They have confidently stepped in to support the critical efforts for which other subcontractors were unwilling or unable to perform. In addition to the standard Content Mana gement efforts, T-Kartor has been chosen to support IRAD’s and other peripheral, strategic activities on the FGCM program.

T-Kartor has been flexible to meet the Harris targets as well as cognizant of the significance of continuous improvement and affordability. T-Kartor has shown exceptional commitment to the growth of the FGCM franchise, making significant investments into the growth of its business by hiring over ten new staff members. Without the support of T-Kartor, Harris would have possibly needed to perform the work in house at a greater cost to the company. Furthermore, they have been involved in the development of software tools that streamline the production of geospatial datasets, such as tools for data thinning necessary for automatically displaying map data at smaller scales and tools for conflation or combining of multiple data features into one single map object. These many contributions are pivotal to the success of the FGCM task orders and future Harris awards.

Congratulations on receiving this well deserved award!”

T-Kartor wins another TfL mapping contract

We are proud to have increased our share of TfL’s cartographic framework. T-Kartor is now the sole supplier of pedestrian and cycling information products containing mapping from the Legible London Database (which T-Kartor maintain under a separate contract).

A whole family products are included in this contract:

Local area maps
Highly-detailed geographic local area maps used for various ad-hoc purposes

Legible London mapping panels
These ‘heads-up’ maps are rotated to match the direction of travel and are placed on a number of pedestrian sign types. Additional information on these signs include street and landmarks indices and directional arrows to nearby neighbourhoods, landmarks or transport nodes.

Continuing your journey posters and leaflets
Highly-detailed geographic local area maps used at transport nodes such as station exits and bus station hubs. These maps usually appear with a schematic map of bus or river services. In some cases they are reproduced as an A4 leaflet.

Cycle Superhighway mapping panels
Cycle Superhighway mapping is elongated to suit the extra distance covered by bike, compared to a five minute walk distance.

Cycle Hire Docking Stations
These maps appear on the cycle hire infrastructure and involve an added technical complexity. The position of all nearby docking stations are shown on each map, so these maps are created paying consideration to the latest status of all stations within a certain radius.

We look forward to four more years continuing our excellent relationship with our highly valued customer.

Report links NYC Citi Bike usage to commuter journeys

Citi Bike in New York City is mainly being used for a short stage of a longer multi-stage commute, illustrating the importance of good wayfinding information at cycle hire stations.

A new report into New York’s Citi Bike scheme has been released by the NYU Rudin Centre for Transportation, available for download here.

Citi Bike is proving a success, with 14 million trips during 2016 representing a rise from 10 million the previous year. By the end of this year the system will have doubled in size to 12,000 bikes and 700 stations. The NYU Rudin Centre for Transportation claims that the diversity of transportation modes are what ‘makes New York move’.

The report suggests that riders are using Citi Bike for ‘last mile’ connections on longer transit trips, closing gaps in the fixed route public transport network.

This is why T-Kartor specialises in producing map information specially designed for each stage of the journey. In order to encourage a shift to sustainable forms of transport, complex journeys must be simplified and more options must be simply presented. At bus stops, for example, we produce maps of available bus services, but also local area maps for those searching for their destination, and onward journey maps showing alternative modes of transport in the vicinity.

Key information for cyclists on New York’s Citi Bike maps (produced by T-Kartor) includes safe and recommended routes; infrastructure such as segregated cycle paths; bike hire stations and cycle repair shops.

Information designed specifically for each mode of transport (including walking and cycling) requires basemaps in varying scales, formats and media. T-Kartor’s City Mapping Platform provides one core basemap, constantly maintained in collaboration with city authorities, with outputs to all necessary scales, formats and media. These include information totems, printed posters, hand held map leaflets, digital displays and smart phone apps.

The power of wayfinding signage to influence behaviour

Always keen to use our mapping products in situ and view them from a user perspective, I recently decided to carry out some research at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The last time I visited was at the height of the Olympic Games and the area was teeming with tourists clutching the T-Kartor produced Host City Map.

I have read about legacy plans for the area and the London Legacy Development Corporation, a mayoral planning authority with the remit to manage ongoing regeneration of the Park and surrounding areas. One stated goal was to link the Olympic Park to the communities in the surrounding urban area. Legible London wayfinding maps are intended to help towards this goal, so I planned to see how well the system works in reality.

As part of T-Kartor’s creation and maintenance of the Legible London database, we developed the online LLAMA portal, from where Transport for London (TfL) can manage Legible London products in a geographic asset management view (above). From the portal I could see the positions of 43 Legible London products. An excel output broke down the details: 11 bus stop maps, 8 vicinity maps at stations (including DLR) and 23 walking totems, of which 4 are OWCRE (Olympic Walking and Cycling Route) signs along the canal towpath. In addition, the LLAMA portal allowed me to study the layout and rotation angle of each sign, and see a preview of the printed artwork (below).

What struck me on arrival at Stratford Station is the complexity of the area. A vast shopping centre and transport hub were my first impressions, but without a map it would be very difficult to appreciate its layout. I made my way across a huge raised walkway towards the old Olympic Stadium, now home to West Ham United Football Club, where I hired a (TfL) Santander cycle.

I often hire a TfL cycle in London, and head off in any direction with the confidence (due to the high density of mapping products) that I will not get lost. Although I was very unsure of the area, I soon came across map products and felt confident to explore.

The area is still heavily under construction, and does have a very deserted feel about it. However, I am fascinated by the level of investment in infrastructure that is still going on, years after the Olympic Games left town. The area is trying to encourage growing businesses, with Here East digital quarter, 3 Mills Film and TV Studios and International Quarter London (new home for progressive business).

My cycle ride took me first through the slightly desolate park, around the outside towards Hackney Wick, then along the canal riverwalk. Within a very short cycle I had experienced areas of urban decay and vandalism; recreational areas along the canalside, where people tending their barges lended a feeling of safety; vast, barricaded building sites; new business developments and the impressively landscaped grassy verges of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

An area of such contrasts, both negative and positive, needs cohesion and context. Legible London mapping helps by displaying how the area fits together, how to quickly walk or cycle to areas of safety and just how close everything is to where you are standing. The familiar design will have helped many unfamiliar visitors to the Olympics to feel that the area is as much a part of London as the West End.

If anything, I was disappointed by the lack of density of the wayfinding signage. Once away from the Stratford transport hub I found myself worrying that I had cycled ‘off the map’ before seeing another mapping signpost and breathing a sigh of relief.

I had also expected the area to be more complete than it is. I will have to repeat my field study in a few years and see if the sense of cohesion is improved as well as the density of wayfinding signs.

T-Kartor maps Stockholm

Together with the award-winning design company Familjen Pangea, T-Kartor has completed a project to create new maps for the tram line no 7 to Djurgården. The map designs are based on experience from our successful projects in London, New York, Birmingham, Houston, Toronto, Dublin and Paris.

The detailed maps show all points of interest in the neighbourhood and the best ways to find them or complete the journey to your final destination.

The project also included new maps for the commuter Ferry lines 80, 82 and 89.

“This is yet more proof of our long-term customer relationships with close cooperation and a continuous development of new projects. This project really shows the benefit of using a consistent strategy for Mapping a Connected City to support sustainable mobility strategies. We look forward to supporting Stockholm as it strives towards a Greener Capital.”
Erik Körling, Managing Director T-Kartor Content Management