Olympic countdown - Reasons for a London Cycle Map, #42. Following a trail of breadcrumbs.

#42. FOLLOWING A TRAIL OF BREADCRUMBS. Simon Parker’s London Cycle Map shows how the streets of the London Cycle Network could be waymarked so as to enable cyclists to get from virtually anywhere to anywhere in the capital by remembering just a few coloured cycle routes then following road signs and markings.

Traditional road-side signs (e.g. on lampposts) would be necessary whenever Parker’s routes turn corners or where routes intersect, but it would be markings on the road which do most of the work leading cyclists along. Just as Hansel and Gretel left a trail of breadcrumbs on the ground so that they could find their way out of the forest, the streets represented by Parker’s London Cycle Map would feature a series of coloured spots – ‘breadcrumbs’ – for cyclists to follow.

These breadcrumbs needn’t be too obtrusive. All that’s needed would be small coloured dots of paint every, say, 20 metres, accompanied by the occasional code (e.g. R1 or G2 or C6) informing cyclists exactly which route they were on. Such a small and inexpensive measure; but such a big, big help to uninitiated cyclists trying to plot their way through the quieter, safer backstreets which, on the whole, comprise the London Cycle Network.

Marking out a path with colours is hardly unprecedented. Hospitals, airports, cinemas, fun runs, Sky Rides and Cycle Superhighways all use this principle to help people find their way about. Given that, for instance, we don’t force hospital-goers to navigate their way throughout mile-long corridors and hundreds of indistinguishable ology departments without a bit of help, I don't see why we should expect London’s new cyclists to fend for themselves in equally unfamiliar territory.


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