Putting cycling on the map in the capital

Tuesday 7 September 2010 was a great day for cycling in the capital. Like most great days it was partly planned and partly spontaneous. The foundations had been laid by the Mayor’s fantastic Cycle Hire scheme, which has seen around 5,000 bicycles available for use from hundreds of docking stations throughout central London.

But it also took a touch of serendipity to make Tuesday really special. The tube strike meant that millions of Londoners were struggling to make their daily commute to and from work. So, many of them did the sensible thing... they hired a bicycle! A potentially frustrating day turned out to be an enlightening one, particularly for all those people who took to two wheels for the first time, as London whirred to the sound of thousands more bicycles weaving through its streets in the lovely Autumn weather.

Tuesday was, however, revealing in more ways than one. London’s new cyclists discovered a perplexing fact: there is no single London Cycle Map showing how the capital’s cycle routes connect together; there is nothing equivalent to the London Underground Map for the capital’s cycle network. Instead, cycling in London in 2010 is like catching the tube was before 1931, before Harry Beck designed his world-famous, iconic tube-map: everyone getting lost for the want of a decent map and system of signage to unify the available routes and make it easier to navigate. A glance at the official map for the Cycle Hire scheme shows that route information is conspicuous by its absence.

Thankfully, help is at hand. Cycle Lifestyle’s new campaign and petition promises to help deliver a single London Cycle Map supported by coloured signs on the roads which guide cyclists all the way to the right location just like on the tube. Rather than remembering hundreds of ‘turn rights’ and ‘turn lefts’ you could just remember a few routes, plus where to change from one to the other, then away you go. Since Tuesday’s spur-of-the-moment cycling surge, there’s understandably been a surge of interest in the London Cycle Map Campaign and Simon Parker’s fantastic London Cycle Map design. It’s an idea whose time has arrived.

If you want to help London make an international statement in support of cycling in advance of the Olympics in 2012 then please sign the petition at www.petition.co.uk/london-cycle-map-campaign, join the facebook  fanpage, and tell all your friends! And tell us what you think below…

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