Nate Wessel

Bike map in the making

January 2014

With dual interests in transportation and cartography, why have so many of my recent maps been purely thematic? It’s time for synthesis!

This semester I’m going to be completing a regional bicycle map for Cincinnati, an idea I’ve been flirting with pretty seriously for almost half a year. It’s a big project; even defining the scope of the undertaking is requiring more thought than I anticipated. There are sooo many bike maps that have been put out in the last decade by city DOTs and advocacy groups… and I have a really strong feeling that most of them fall seriously short of the mark. But how exactly? There are clearly good techniques being implemented but I’ve never yet seen them all gathered together in one place; this porridge is too hot, etc.

Generally, I think my approach is going to further develop my sense that a map of a city, such as a bike or transit map, should allow the user independence of the map itself. It should convey several general senses of the place that can usefully be stored in memory and recombined with others to create more useful knowledge than we can manage in their specifics. Computers use heuristics in their routing algorithms, and people need them very much more. Why then do so few bike maps give us a good general feel for an area?