“Walking is a great way to get around London,” Transport for London’s walking page proclaims, with cheerful inanity. “It’s free, healthy and green.”
And – even though this is the sort of statement that feels like it should end in an exclamation mark, just so you can complain that it doesn’t deserve an exclamation mark – TfL has a point. Walking is a great way to get around London.
For one thing, you find interesting places you wouldn’t otherwise know about. You get to know how the city fits together in a way you never can underground. You get exercise and fresh air, and the chances of you ending up with your face pressed into a banker’s armpit for 20 minutes while not actually moving a bloody inch are minimal.
Best of all, the distances between stations are often shorter than you think. To make this point – and, one assumes, to encourage people out of already over-crowded trains wherever possible – TfL has released yet another new tube map, showing the walking distances between Tube, Overground and DLR stations in the central zones one and two. Here it is:
(We’re assuming it stops at Zone 2 because, beyond that, the distances start getting a bit “I’m not walking that far, are you mad?”)
The map has two functions. One is practical; the other is more for the map geek connoisseur (so, you lot).
The practical function is that it shows you which stations are so close together that it’s basically almost always easier to walk. Covent Garden, for example, is only a 4 minute walk from Leicester Square: so close that it can be “exit only” for an extended period while they replace the lifts without really making a substantial difference to anyone’s life.
Cannon Street is ridiculous close to both Monument (5 minutes) and Mansion House (4 minutes), which suggests that the only reason the District line stops there at all is because some awkward sod built a mainline terminus there.
Then there’s Embankment, which is so close to Charing Cross (3 minutes) that it used to be Charing Cross. Until 1974 that was what it was called: for most of its history, the tube station now known as Charing Cross was actually two stations, Strand (Northern line) and Trafalgar Square (Bakerloo).
That’s the useful stuff. The other, more geektastic role played by the map is in the way it accidentally highlights the gaps in the network.
You can suddenly see, for example, that there should really be a stop at between Farringdon and King’s Cross on the Circle line (Mount Pleasant, perhaps). The 27 minute walk from King’s Cross to Caledonian Road suggests there might be benefits to re-opening the old York Way station, too.
The 35 minute gap from King’s Cross to Highbury & Islington is probably forgivable (the Victoria line is meant to be fast), as is the 36 minute gap between Imperial Wharf and Clapham Junction (the walking time is only that high because of the lack of conveniently located bridge).
But the 45 minute gap between Denmark Hill and Clapham High Street is just silly and should be rectified by the reopening of East Brixton as soon as humanly possible.
So what the hell. Here, in the form of red blobs, are a selection of extra stations that TfL might want to build in the event of a major lottery win:
(We haven’t named them. That’d be presumptious.)
The map isn’t perfect (what in this world of ours is). For practical reasons it only shows the distances between adjacent stations: that means that things like the 7(?) minute walk from Covent Garden to Tottenham Court Road go unmentioned.
Even weirder is what’s happening in Docklands, where the map shows the walk from Canary Wharf to Heron Quays as being 10 minutes. This sounds on the high side, but more than that, Canary Wharf tube station is actually closer to Heron Quays DRL than it is to Canary Wharf DLR (the names on that part of the network could do with a lot of work). All of which means that, in that part of town, the map is actively misleading.
Nonetheless it looks like a good way to get people walking, and it’s always nice when TfL graces us with a new map, so we say hurrah. You can see the full sized version here.
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