Legible London Pilot Scheme: Helping Us Find Ourselves

By Zoe Craig Last edited 113 months ago
Legible London Pilot Scheme: Helping Us Find Ourselves

Been lost in London recently? You're not alone. A new survey from a phone company says London's pretty much the worst place to be in, if you don't know where you are.

Cities like Bangkok and Beijing, which are twice the size of London, are easier to navigate, the survey found. On top of that, Londoners are said to be likely to lie if asked for directions. (Really? Who does this? Answers below, please.)

Enter Legible London, TfL's new "pedestrian wayfinding scheme". Other descriptions call it a "new on-street mapping system."

Essentially, we're talking about signposts. Better signposts. Funky signposts. Signposts based on, ahem, "mental mapping":

We all build maps in our heads to navigate our way around, though the way we form these maps depends on a host of factors. The strength of our mental map often determines the confidence we have in walking to our destination... Any successful wayfinding system therefore needs to support people in developing their own mental maps

The three areas for the pilot scheme are South Bank and Bankside; Covent Garden and around Bloomsbury; and Richmond and Twickenham. And of course, this is all about making sure people know where the hell they are come 2012.

Some, English Heritage included, will inevitably say that there are already too many signs cluttering up our streets. Others may like the feeling of discovering new hidden gems while you don't know quite where you are in London. Then there's the question of what the signs themselves will look like. They won't look like Westminster's signs, that's for sure. Something more like the 2012 logo, anyone?

Image from silktwisteddagger on the Londonist flickrstream.

Last Updated 27 November 2008


I'm not sure what the best sign is in London, but I have a nomination for the worst signage. The 'you are here' maps that are dotted around Bank and St Paul's are appalling - each one has north facing a different way! Following a path going from one to the next would challenge the most intrepid explorer (or at least, leaves me totally confused).


A lot of signage in Central London at least does not do a good enough job of actually pointing someone accurately enough to their destination.

There is a sign for Green Park station that points up a dead end street, then there are no more nearer the station to correct the lost traveller.

I'm sure there are numerous more like this all over London and other cities I bet.

Having been to Bangkok and Beijing, I wouldn't say they were easier to travel about. Bangkok may be easier, just follow the smell of the sewers back the the city centre.

Beijing isn't that easy if you manage to get off the main road.