#BECK TO THE FUTURE. London has a tangle of cycle routes, with different signs and maps, and often insufficient signage at road level, meaning that detailed planning and memory is necessary for all but the most local cycle journeys.
The situation is similar to catching a tube train in the early twentieth century. In 1931, Harry Beck’s famous Tube map succeeded in taming a complex system of tracks – making it far easier to navigate. He was an uncommissioned hobbyist at the time, but now Beck’s design is synonymous with catching the Tube in London: you just take one look at the map, identify which lines to travel on, which direction to travel in, and where to change, before heading off. With a minimum of planning and memory you can follow signs that take you from virtually anywhere to anywhere in the capital.
Something similar is needed today for cycling: a single London Cycle Map that you can take one look at, identify which routes to travel on, which direction to travel in, and where to change, before heading off. With a minimum of planning and memory you could follow signs which would enable you to cycle from virtually anywhere to anywhere in London.
Simon Parker has come up with a magnificent blueprint for a London Cycle Map. He has re-imagined the London Cycle Network as a series of long straight coloured routes dissecting the capital at all angles. With the corresponding road signs and markings, Londoners could cycle to anywhere in the capital by following just a few of these coloured routes.
Parker’s achievement is comparable to that of Harry Beck, but in a way even better. Whereas Beck’s Tube map improved the presentation of a network of train lines that were already named and identified (as the Victoria Line, Bakerloo Line, etc), Parker has proposed not just a map but a radical overhaul of how London’s cycle routes are named and identified. When his brilliant map gets the recognition it deserves from the authorities, it will be a great day for London.
Beck’s Tube map defined the future of urban rail mapping and travel; Parker’s London Cycle Map will do the same for urban cycling.
Harry Beck's 1931 Tube map