Olympic countdown - Reasons for a London Cycle Map, #82: More useful than a SatNav.

#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.



I do not accept that it would

I do not accept that it would be necessary to "look out for" repeat markers on a revitalised London Cycling Network. If this proves necessary, then the routes have not been waymarked sufficiently well.

The repeat markers, or route confirmation markers, should be on the road surface, and therefore unmissable. Also, these markers would do something that a SatNav cannot do, and that is, to establish the network, and to raise awareness. Cyclists, would-be cyclists and motorists all need to be told, this is a route for cyclists.

People telling you that we don't need to get a cycle network up and running by doing as much as possible at least cost first are being incredibly disingenuous.

Hi Simon,

Hi Simon,

Thanks for the comment. I agree that the signs need to be more or less unmissable, certainly in the long run.

'Vigilance' was perhaps too strong a word; what I was getting at is that on the network cyclists would at least need to be AWARE that the signs and road markings are there and what they are for.

As for non-networkists (unless there's a better word for them!), I'm not sure if they are being disingenuous - perhaps blinkered, tunnel-visioned. And, collectively perhaps there is some 'groupthink' going on as well.

In fact, I am absolutely fascinated by what it is, psychologically, that makes people find it so hard hard to engage with the idea of a LCM.

I remember once when we were chatting I described your proposal as an 'unofficial IQ test' - there may be a lot of truth in that comment.

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