London Designer Has A New Take On Cycle Wayfinding

A London graphic designer has created a new take on cycling route signage that could change the way we find our way get lost in the capital.

If you’ve ever tried to follow any of the London Cycle Network’s routes you’ll be familiar with the mental anguish of searching the road side for the 4cm x 8cm red number that may or may not give you a new direction at each junction, side road and on occasion random patch of shared-use pavement. The modern alternative, great cycling apps like Bikehub, have a lot going for them — but with their computer-like efficiency they produce routes so complex that the human mind (ours at any rate) can’t possibly remember each of the 31 maneuvers on a typical journey. So we find ourselves, for the most part, heading for the main roads that we know, using the A road signage for broad directions and filling in the gaps with a bit of instinct — SE1 to Crystal Palace? Well that’s Elephant, Walworth Road, head for Camberwell, and, err, south and up-hill a bit.

Jun Kwon, a Graphic Design Student at Ravebsborne College, decided to tackle this problem for his submission to the International Society of Typographic Designers 2011 awards. His creation, Cycling Cities, is an attempt at a clean-slate approach for cycling signage — and we love it. Catering to our simple minds, Jun proposes to use a combination of landmarks, tube stations and compass direction to keep people on track.

Jun, who’s from Korea, said “I am… still not very good at wayfinding in London. Even worse thing was, rather many times, I fall myself into some very dangerous moments as I  was cycling, so as a graphic designer I really wanted to solve this problem in a new way that can be interpreted by international people.”

His research found that people build a mental map as they cycle, and his solution builds on this natural ‘waypoint’ technique of navigation. He combined this with the 12 direction codes from the compass to create a flexible standard.

Jun, who proposed the idea to TfL last year, told us that he “doesn’t think this is a complete and perfect solution, but I would love to develop it to make it more useful and supportive of cyclists in cities”.

London’s Harry Beck led the world on making sense of railways — no doubt because we had a rather complicated one to start with. This couldn’t be more true of our roads. Innovative ideas like this could help our somewhat subterranean-minded population negotiate street-level by bike, just as Legible London is doing for walking.

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  • spaceyjase

    As a cyclist, I tend to pay attention to the visible road signs already in place.

  • Anonymous

    As do we, but if you’re not an A road cyclist, or you want to make use of the many (an increasing) cut throughs and one way contraflows, it doesn’t work very well.

  • http://twitter.com/foratata Hannah Renier

    This is excellent, way better than anything I’ve seen. As to ‘paying attention to visible road signs’ this is no use to strangers who have a vague map in their head and need directions, North, South, East, West – not names of places they may never have heard of.

  • Tiger

    Very impressive design, really like the design for the junctions and the simple directions given. Other efforts seem to try and force cyclists on to complicated back streets, rather than the quick direct routes to wherever you need to be.  

    The signage though is too large. If there were a few of those at every junction, as well as all the road signs, it would be a mess. They need to be smaller.

  • http://twitter.com/Wayfinding Wayfinding

    Nice concept but the added clutter could cause confusion for motorists – which could in the end endanger cyclists.

  • Ali

    It would be nice to see this joined up with Simon Parker’s cycle map which is attempting something in a similar vein – http://cyclelifestyle.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22&Itemid=17

  • http://www.LondonRemembers.com/ London Remembers

    This system could work well with back street routes, which surely we would all use more if only we could be certain of them not petering out into nothing? 

  • Ben

    If I wanted to head, say, from Shoreditch to The
    Natural History museum, I don’t want to spend the entire time trying to weigh
    up the right combination of South-West, West, South, South, West-South, South,
    West, while trying to make sure I look out for signs for Angel, King’s Cross,
    Holborn, Oxford Street, Hyde Park, or wherever, as I go. It’s an incredibly complicated
    scheme, and not a patch on Parker’s London Cycle Map, which would enable Londoners to get from anywhere to anywhere in the capital by remembering no more than a few route codes.  http://www.cyclelifestyle.co.uk

  • Andy

    It might be more useful if you were to learn where you are going, watch the traffic and keep your eyes open in London – we already have secondary and tertiary signage which is often irrelevant and confusing; another layer for the unaware may not be the answer, however well meaning its intent…

  • Ed

    Now to find suitable sponsors for each different colour…

  • Anonymous

    It is very Good and stylish design for the Cycle way finding.
    http://beecodes.com/ediets-coupon-codes-promo-codes-ediets-discount-codes.html

  • http://twitter.com/holling bob holling

    Nice example of how being unfamiliar with an existing system opens up new possibilities for solutions.