Anyone who has even a fleeting acquaintance with the London tube can tell you two things: 1) it’s convenient, and 2) it can be deeply unpleasant. Pressed into a stranger’s armpit as the train stalls in a darkened tunnel surely only appeals to masochists, while everyone else would rather be talking a stroll in the relatively fresh air. Thankfully, a map released by Transport for London (TfL) shows just how long it would take to walk between stations.
The new Walk the Tube map illustrates how hopping on your chosen underground line may not be as time effective as a brisk walk between stations.
Holborn to Tottenham Court Road, for example, is only ten minutes away, which means that the author of this piece will never be able to take that trip again without feeling a modicum of guilt.
Step by step
The map is also the first official version of the tube map in the world to show the number of steps between stations, with, for example, 400 steps taking you from Leicester Square to Covent Garden. Those with extremely long legs may need to make their own projections, however.
The purpose of the map isn’t only to make you feel guilty for taking the tube for two stops, however. With London’s population already on the rise, there are fears that an estimated 1.7 billion people will use the London Underground in 2026 alone.
Such astronomical figures could cause the tube to be unusable, according to Miles Ashley, a tube executive with a daunting view of how this surge could impact the transport network. As reported by the Sunday Times, he told an audience of researchers at Imperial College London:
“I don’t know whether you have ever stood in a telephone box with 3.5 of your friends… but ultimately that gives you an illustration of just how crowded parts of these stations are going to be and the challenge that faces us. It renders it inoperable.”
By giving people the chance to realise that, hey, their journey isn’t that far, the Walk the Tube map could do a great deal to help the London Underground, as well as alleviate the hell of rush hour, with this data visualisation showing how the lines swell with people at peak hours.
Walk the line
Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, has also emphasised the health benefits this should promote, saying:
“The new steps map will encourage more of us to walk these short journeys instead – it’s good for our health and it will help support London’s small businesses. We’ve made clear our commitment to tackle air pollution and get more walking and cycling in London, and this is a fun and practical way to help busy Londoners who want to walk more as part of their everyday lives.”
Indeed, TfL itself has made clear its commitment to improving Londoners’ health through walking and cycling, saying on its website that it aims to increase the number of citizens who walk or cycle for 20 minutes or more per day.
Currently, the number stands at 35 per cent of adults in London, which TfL claims is enough to stay in good health. However, its aim is to double this figure by 2050 – with Walk the Tube hopefully a key tool in ensuring this.
What do you think, will this map inspire you to take a walk through London?