Welp, three days in and the laptop conked out briefly and some of our picks lost. I’ll formally update my bracket once the Round of 32 is complete.
Red Line Match 2: Beijing v. Toronto
I am genuinely surprised that Beijing wiped the floor with Toronto yesterday.
The good news is that both maps are comprehensible and can be used to navigate their respective networks without too much trouble, but that can be mostly chalked up to the simplicity of the Toronto subway (two lines of nontrivial length) and the neat orderly grid of the Beijing subway.
Now: the Toronto map generally looks like more thought has been put into which design language to use and how its different elements are put together…with one big exception: the station labels. Having them alternate sides when the route line is horizontal is perfectly fine. Having them alternate sides when the route line is diagonal or vertical is not. It quite simply is too much work for the eyes to dart back and forth to figure out how the stations are arranged. Furthermore, this wasn’t an issue south of Line 2, where the two arms of the Line 1 “U” are so close together that the station labels all have to be on one side, so why is this suddenly an issue north of Line 2? The station spacing is the same on either side, what gives?
Despite this, the Beijing subway map does two things that sink it compared to Toronto’s. The first is the font. I hate Arial with a burning fiery passion. Hate it. Hate hate hate hate it. It’s the Helvetica for people who don’t want to spring for Helvetica, and its success mode is “cheap storefront” or “internal office document,” neither of which are appropriate for, you know, the rapid transit system of a major world city. You may say it’s the English localization, and you’re partially right, the Chinese version of the map isn’t quite so horrible, but they use Arial in the signage as well, so that excuse only gets you so far.
The second thing is that interchange symbol. Those little arrows are so condescending. I think people who use the subway know exactly how to change lines within it, my dude. Winner: Toronto.
A Good Alternate Map
I can’t find an updated version of it anywhere, but lighthunter’s MetroMan Beijing map is stylish and beautiful, and the interchange symbols don’t insult my intelligence.
Because this is a serious blog, this will be a serious post. I’m participating in the Transit Map World Cup! Here’s my bracket:
I will blog about my thoughts on each map as we go, and hopefully feature some alternate maps—historical, fan-made, both—that are worth showcasing. Let’s begin.
Fifteen Unpopular Opinions
- Examples of The Trains Running On Time should come from Switzerland instead of Japan.
- Moana is just okay, and is the kind of movie we’ll regard as howlingly racist in twenty years’ time.
- European urbanism is overrated, East Asian urbanism is underrated. Not for nothing were the foremost postwar documentarians of urban/suburban alienation and isolation English and French. (Exceptions: Swiss urbanism is excellent, Singaporean urbanism is terrible.)
- The Venn diagram of “men with blue Twitter ticks” and “men who are creepy toward women” is a small-ish circle that has been almost completely absorbed by a much, much larger circle.
- Anything built in Japan prior to ~1990 > Los Angeles dingbats > Identikit Hong Kong housing blocks >>>>>>> North American Gentrification Moderne condo towers. I legitimately don’t understand people who think Japanese architecture is ugly.
- “Problematic” is only an appropriate adjective when the Bad Thing is about as severe as telling an off-color joke.
- Alon Levy’s proposal of mandatory genderqueer conversion therapy for cis people, only 100% sincerely.
- Although the impulse is understandable, it’s uncool to cheer when a Bad Thing happens to a Bad Person when (a) the Bad Thing is unrelated to the reason the person is Bad, and/or (b) the Bad Thing will adversely affect Non-Bad People.
- The question of whether asexuals can call them/ourselves “queer” does not have a cleanly-defined answer and is not a question any respectable ace person should be asking until the community forges solid ties with [the rest of] the queer community.
- Manhattan and Annie Hall are the film equivalent of those lit fic novels that are incredibly detailed thousand-page ruminations on the author’s junk.
- The Anglophone left is an open sewer, yes, but it’s not a unique open sewer. Most internet gaming communities and religious organizations are just as bad or worse. I’ll take Jacobin over Christianity Today any day.
- The problem with streetcars is not the mode, but the application. The streetcar in Portland is successful because it actually goes somewhere.
- 90% of Mental Health Discourse is crud. 99% of Autism Spectrum Discourse is crud.
- My YIMBYism will foreground lower-income tenant/renter concerns and be nuanced about rental markets or it will be BS.
- The true unpopular opinions are the ones that you keep to yourself.
Fifteen Things I Love
- The fact that you can walk two blocks on more than a few city streets in Hong Kong and suddenly find yourself in the wilderness.
- The feeling of spiritual ecstasy that comes from being someplace staggeringly beautiful, like a mountaintop.
- Unbelievably complicated national borders, like Baarle-Nassau/Baarle-Hertog.
- Visiting a place you’ve seen on film/TV specifically because you’ve seen it on film/TV. Rank and consumerist, yes, but the zillions of people who visited that staircase in Your Name can’t be wrong. Conversely, recognizing a place you visited on film/TV.
- Empty highway rest stops in the middle of the night. Especially when it’s foggy.
- American colonial architecture, despite, you know, the unequivocal horror that is colonialism.
- That Diamond Geezer’s comment section is titled “Please empty your brain below.”
- The ten-minute live version of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”
- Any music video that (a) unashamedly shows off the city in which it was filmed, and (b) takes a local’s perspective. e.g. Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be,” IAMX’s “The Unified Field,” or DJ Shadow’s “The Sideshow.”
- Having a passport.
- Streets that were designed from the beginning to prioritize people over cars, and didn’t have to be retrofitted.
- When a musician who’s disappeared or been in a rut for several years comes back and makes something brilliant. Think “Blackstar.”
- That liminal space between “place” and “no-place” that is the secure area of an airport terminal. Doubly so if you’re there for an international flight.
- When a plan comes together.
- When a transit map comes together.
Standing on the shoulders of giants.
This is a strip map of one of the lines in Alon Levy’s spectacular Lagos Metro crayon map, which I’ve wanted to do a proper map of basically since it came out but haven’t been able to come up with a design language that works for it. This thing is, obviously, in the style of Oran Viriyincy’s future map of Bangkok and the shiny new official map of the Osaka subway. Mmmmm. Parisine.
I’m cautiously optimistic about this look right now. Station numbering is definitely essential in a system this complicated, and placing the station number within the station symbol itself actually makes sense for what I’m thinking of doing with this network. Bit less sold on the train and airport symbols, though. Also, although outlining local/express service patterns this way looks great for this line, for two of the others it won’t be so simple.
Anyway, this is a thing. I’ve only had the headspace necessary to do strip maps lately, but perhaps next year that’ll change.
The DLR hit the big three-oh recently and got a shiny new map with different shades of teal on it. It sucks. So I went and made one of my own. Notes:
- Diamond Geezer Blogger Bloke liked that the new thing attempted to show the…interesting service pattern at West India Quay, he was frustrated that it did so rather poorly. I generally depict special unidirectional service patterns rather subtly on the station symbol itself, so hopefully this works well enough.
- DG’s other point of contention was that the new DLR map still doesn’t show that only peak-hour trains run from Stratford all the way to Lewisham, so here’s that fixed also.
- In what will surely be a surprise to absolutely no one, I also am one of those people who believes individual DLR services should be numbered.
- Although Jonn Elledge made a good case for it in his CityMetric thing on the new map, I remain unconvinced that coloring the lines by destination rather than origin was a good idea. It might make sense from a certain logical/logistical standpoint but it still looks fundamentally backward to me. Nevertheless, the official color scheme is used here.
- Are TfL’s graphic designers not paid enough to care about internal harmony on their maps or something? Is having everything line up properly thought of as some sort of bourgeois decadence? You people are better than this.
- I threw in the Thames this time because the system is smaller, spends more time above ground, and—honestly—it’s the light rail for the Docklands. Might be useful as a landmark.