Monday 11 November 2013

An Infestation of Spiders [Part 1]

All over London.
The company T-Kartor ...
... is clearly proud of its mapping software, quoting (amongst other projects) its stop specific diagrams for South Yorkshire. It is, perhaps, unfortunate that the one it uses as a headline illustration is exceedingly misleading.
The 31 and 31A terminate at (or near) the Hillsborough Interchange at the same point that is served by routes coloured maroon and olive green. By no stretch of the imagination to they go anywhere near Foxhill. A quick run of the T-Kartor UK web site text through a spell checker might be helpful as well.
Nevertheless, the company oozes adulation for it's 350 "spider" maps for London.

fbb is not so sure!

A few weeks back, your esteemed blogger was taking afternoon tea with Diana Aggram (Miss!) ...
... a former cartographer and graphic designer, who took early retirement rather than get involved with yet another new piece of complicated computer software. She lives in Hampstead (London) and the conversation, naturally, veered in the direction of fbb's recent visit to sample the Borismasters on route 24.

"What do you think of the spider map for South End Green?", asked fbb innocently (but provocatively).

"I can't stand b***** spiders", she hissed, spraying  few madeleine crumbs across the table in a very un-mature-miss manner. "I can't stand the hairy leggy ones or the multicoloured bus stop ones. They are a disgrace to the City!"

Now fbb is not well-versed in London's bus network, so rarely uses a spider map; indeed, rarely uses a London bus except for crossing between rail termini; because it's free for fogeys. The route 24 excursion was a simple out and back from the South End Green terminus having arrived at Hampstead Heath station by changing at Clapham Junction.

Diana was warming up nicely, "gathering her brows like gathering storm, nursing her wrath to keep it warm!" [Robert Burns, Tam o'Shanter]. "Have you seen what they've done with the Overground ...
... and the Northern Line?"
fbb looked at both when he got home. Now even an occasional visitor to London might just guess that the Overgound railway line (orange with white middle) doesn't turn back on itself so abruptly and the Underground (black ditto) doesn't wiggle like a frenetic sidewinder snake between Euston and Waterloo!

Diana (she prefers the diminutive "Di", by the way) was recovering from her apoplexy; and, as she indulged in a chocolate eclair to aid convalescence, fbb asked, "Well, how would you do it?"

Out came an A4 notepad (the paper variety, not the computer product!) and a tin box of Lakeland coloured pencils (remember them?) ...
... and the expert started work.

For those who are a bit lost with all this chatter, the spider map for South End Green looks like this ...
... and the full-size original can be downloaded (here). It is designed to show all bus and rail services from the Royal Free Hospital and the immediately surrounding area.

It covers an area of London corresponding (roughly) to this real map extract:-
It would be fair to say that the "spider" has very little regard for any geographical niceties!


 Next cartographic blog : Tuesday 12th November 


  1. The dubious Overground and Tube routings are because the steel rail routes have been added to the bus spider maps as an afterthought - no doubt "on the cheap".

    If the desire was to show all modes from a given location, then the maps need properly redesigning including all modes rather than the half hearted effort.

    Having said all this, I actually quite like the spider mps as giving a clear indication of the direct buses from a given location.

  2. I expect fbb and his "chum" will be proposing something similar in subsequent blogs. It will be interesting to see if hey can do any better