#82: MORE USEFUL THAN A SATNAV. Many cyclists have a SatNav (often by way of a smart phone app) which helps them navigate by aurally and visually directing them through the city as they ride. This can obviously be very useful (as long as you can afford the cost of the device and an internet connection, your device is charged, and it’s not raining). Yet this method of navigation has serious shortcomings that a London Cycle Map doesn’t.
The easiest way to appreciate the importance of proper signage on cycle routes is to consider what it would be like catching the Tube with a SatNav, rather than a Tube map and appropriate signage. In tunnels which all look alike, you'd be scurrying round corners and up escalators whenever your SatNav told you to. You couldn’t ask a fellow Londoner if you missed your turning, got confused, or got misdirected into the proverbial field of cows; everyone else would know only what their instructions were telling them. And you’d have to be constantly vigilant – just in case there were further instructions. You’d be so disoriented you’d probably end up designing a Tube map.
Of course, you’d still need to be vigilant on a Tube-style network of cycle routes, looking out for signs (and road markings) showing you where to go. But the vigilance would be so much more natural. You’d already be looking at the road ahead, so it wouldn’t be difficult to glance at the signs as you went: no more so than it is on a motorway, or finding the right screen in a cinema.
Granted, we already have signs on every corner showing the name of each street in London. In effect, the London Cycle map allocates ‘names’ (specifically, colours and codes) to groups of roads, making it far easier to follow cycle routes. Just as it would be silly to tear down all those road name signs, it is silly that we currently have a cycle network which is largely without route signage.