diamond geezer

 Monday, October 23, 2006

Tubewatch (16) Accessibility
London's tube map is getting uglier. A plague of blue splodges is spreading steadily across the map, slowly destroying the elegance of Harry Beck's original design. To blame is Transport for London's crusade to make the underground network as accessible as possible. Every station accessible without using stairs or escalators must now be marked on the map by a small wheelchair symbol inside a dark blue circle. There aren't many accessible tube stations, still only about 50 out of 275, but the overall effect is still highly offputting. Most tube lines aren't blue, so big blue blobs just look wrong. The 100%-accessible Docklands Light Railway (another 37 blobs) has become a tentacled beast in the south east corner of the map and is now visually highly distracting. And the four lines which meet at Waterloo have recently been realigned on the map in a particularly ugly way, merely so that the distinction can be made between accessible and inaccessible interchanges. It's not looking good.

Don't get me wrong, tube station accessibility is a very good thing. It's not the Victorians' fault that they built all of central London's tube stations without due regard for 21st century accessibility legislation. It's just incredibly expensive to add lifts everywhere, especially underground, so it's not surprising that progress in opening up the network is slow. But do we really need a big blue spot to show where the special lifts are? Normal tube interchanges are still marked by empty black circles, which are far less obtrusive. And interchanges with National Rail stations are marked by a discreet red BR symbol, which is just as useful but not as blatant. Why can't we have something similar for accessibility?

Conspicuous as they are, the blue blobs don't tell the whole story. From the map a wheelchair user might assume that they could ride from Heathrow to Stratford by changing at Holborn. But no, the interchange at Holborn is a stepped and escalatored nightmare, to be avoided at all costs. Instead they should make the journey by changing at Barons Court and then Mile End, but that's not obvious from the map either. And not all the blue blob stations are truly accessible. Take Uxbridge, for example. You can wheel a wheelchair from the station entrance to the platforms, no problem, but you might find getting onto a train rather harder. It's more than 8 inches up from the platform if you want to board a Metropolitan line train, and about 6 inches down if you want to board a Piccadilly line train. The Uxbridge blob represents impossibility, not accessibility.

There is a tube map with all this additional information about changing lines and platform heights - it's called the Tube access guide and you can download it from here. It's complicated and it's inelegant, but it does the job. Why can't TfL give out copies of this map to travellers with wheelchairs, pushchairs and other mobility impairments, without inflicting their semi-useless blue blobs on the rest of us. The ordinary tube map is visually complicated enough as it is - there's no need to make it even less accessible.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream