A Slightly Better Spoorkaart


The majestic purple mountains of Noord-Holland.

  • I was in the Netherlands in December, and had a very good time. People rightfully rhapsodize about the country’s bicycle- and pedestrian-friendliness and well-developed rail transport network. However, the country’s official railway map does that annoying thing where it’s less a useful guide for going from Point A to Point B and more of a brag about how extensive the network is.
  • In addition, the country doesn’t number its railway services, instead identifying them by final destination, which can be an adventure when that’s what your station isn’t. What I’m saying is I got on the wrong train from the airport and had to use the Metro to backtrack, which was fun.
  • There is an unofficial Spoorkaart for 2018, which is generally quite good, albeit somewhat disorganized. I saw quite a few places where they had to squash and stretch the route lines so it could fit in their finite canvas. So basically my main goal here was straightening out and organizing the Spoorkaart a bit more.
  • I also don’t think I’ve ever seen a map where the railways around Amsterdam are shown as a square.
  • I threw in a line numbering system, because the Dutch railway network sorely needs one.
  • Also included are the rapid transit systems in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague, and Utrecht, because with the Rotterdam Metro taking over the Hoek van Holland Line and offering an alternate service between Rotterdam and the Hague, it seemed necessary.
Posted in amsterdam, maps, rotterdam, the hague, Uncategorized, utrecht | 4 Comments

Repeating Myself

The logic goes something like this:

  • I say “my YIMBYism will center renters or it will be BS” because renters, esp in cities w/ severe housing crises, are precarious. Some moreso than others, but I believe this statement is generally true.
  • Centering renters requires, y’know, actually listening to renters. Here and here are examples of what that’s like in practice.
  • Actually listening to renters then requires seriously engaging with rent control.
  • And seriously engaging with rent control requires realizing that the precarious renter in Boyle Heights worried about being forced from their home has a wildly different set of concerns than the posh Beverly Hills jerk who doesn’t want the subway rolling through their neighborhood because they think the disgusting plebeians would lower their property values. One’s worried about an existential threat to their livelihood. Another’s worried about their investments.
  • Those two people’s concerns are sufficiently different that describing both as NIMBYs stretches the definition to the point where it loses all meaning.
  • The Surly Urbanist articulated the problem with this quite clearly: “If you assume anyone who may challenge a pro-Development agenda is a NIMBY and unreachable then you’ve cut off most renters in the country.
  • Regardless of its political expediency, any YIMBYism that writes off most renters in the country by definition does not account for a very precarious segment of a city’s population…which sort of deflates the idea of those YIMBYisms advocating for “everyone.”
  • Or: unless those YIMBYisms openly center developers and landlords over renters, they’re BS. And then they’re a different kind of BS.

Further thoughts in no particular order:

  • To renters, blanketly opposing rent control is a big flashing light that says “I Don’t Care About You Or Your Concerns,” or, “I, Who Does Not Live In Your City And/Or By Occupation Or Family History Is Less Precarious Than You, Think I Know What You Need Better Than You.”
  • It’s on you as the YIMBY to build bridges with renters, not the other way around.
  • Blaming rent stabilization efforts for the scummy actions of landlords makes you sound like a playground bully going “stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself.”
  • Considering how much housing they’re [not] building in San Francisco and Los Angeles, I don’t ever expect to make the money I’d need to live in either of those places, with or without rent control. And when most of the housing that is being built there is out of my price range, the signal I get loud and clear is “This City Is Not For You.” So my focus w/r/t rent control automatically shifts to the effects it has on existing renters b/c (once again) it’ll never affect me personally because I’ll never be able to move there.
  • Quite frankly, if you dismiss renter concerns as part of your YIMBYism, what is the point of you?
Posted in social justice, urbanism | Leave a comment

Thirty Things Make A Post That Has Nothing To Do With Maps

Fifteen Unpopular Opinions

  1. Examples of The Trains Running On Time should come from Switzerland instead of Japan.
  2. Moana is just okay, and is the kind of movie we’ll regard as howlingly racist in twenty years’ time.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. “Problematic” is only an appropriate adjective when the Bad Thing is about as severe as telling an off-color joke.
  7. Alon Levy’s proposal of mandatory genderqueer conversion therapy for cis people, only 100% sincerely.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. The problem with streetcars is not the mode, but the application. The streetcar in Portland is successful because it actually goes somewhere.
  13. 90% of Mental Health Discourse is crud. 99% of Autism Spectrum Discourse is crud.
  14. My YIMBYism will foreground lower-income tenant/renter concerns and be nuanced about rental markets or it will be BS.
  15. The true unpopular opinions are the ones that you keep to yourself.

Fifteen Things I Love

  1. 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.
  2. The feeling of spiritual ecstasy that comes from being someplace staggeringly beautiful, like a mountaintop.
  3. Unbelievably complicated national borders, like Baarle-Nassau/Baarle-Hertog.
  4. 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.
  5. Empty highway rest stops in the middle of the night. Especially when it’s foggy.
  6. American colonial architecture, despite, you know, the unequivocal horror that is colonialism.
  7. That Diamond Geezer’s comment section is titled “Please empty your brain below.”
  8. The ten-minute live version of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”
  9. 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.”
  10. Having a passport.
  11. Streets that were designed from the beginning to prioritize people over cars, and didn’t have to be retrofitted.
  12. When a musician who’s disappeared or been in a rut for several years comes back and makes something brilliant. Think “Blackstar.”
  13. 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.
  14. When a plan comes together.
  15. When a transit map comes together.
Posted in my life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lagos Metro Main Line Strip Map

lagos metro north-south line strip map

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.

Posted in lagos, maps, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Docklands Light Railway Strip Map

dlr strip map with official colors

Dealer plates.

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.
Posted in london, maps, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Indianapolis Bus Map

indy bus map poster

Woo. I guess.

Here’s a map of the Indianapolis bus network as it will (ideally) look sometime around the middle of next decade, because talking about Indy’s buses has become fashionable, suddenly. Sources are this poster of the envisioned network, and individual maps for the Red, Blue, Purple, and Green Lines.

As for the restructure itself, I like that the city is getting a 15-minute frequent grid and some 10-minute limited-stop bus services. That is unquestionably an improvement. However, I don’t like that chunks of the south side of town lose bus service entirely (yes, yes, we’re talking hourly bus service, but most of the south side will still only have hourly service after the restructure and…those lines still did serve people*), the lack of through service through downtown (Apparently. Some buses might change routes going through the Transit Center, I don’t know), and that the Red Line isn’t true BRT with signal priority and exclusive, dedicated lanes for the entirety of its length. I mean, it’ll make taking the bus around Indy easier for me and a lot of other people, but I get the feeling that the pols there will sit back and say The Job Is Done And We Won’t Have To Change The Bus Network Ever Again Ever, as opposed to treating this as a first step toward more ambitious long-term goals such as, say, turn-up-and-go frequency on 86th Street.**

The Green Line is literally the only proposed LRT line I’d like to see built as BRT. For starters, it’s not exactly the ideal corridor for it. The Red, Blue, and Purple lines all run through denser neighborhoods, so if any line should get built as LRT in Indy it’s one of them. Second, BRT is the more frequent service as proposed, with 6 bph at peak as opposed to LRT’s paltry 4 tph. And finally, if they build it as LRT my gut says they’ll slack off and build it with only one track in the dedicated ROW, with all the attendant headaches if it gets popular enough to warrant increased frequencies. At least with BRT you’re more likely to get one lane each direction.

This is one of the maps I’m investigating having printed as a poster.

I will be in Indy this week, so if I have any further thoughts about IndyGo that are Too Long For Twitter they’ll probably be here.

*When it comes to the speed versus coverage debate w/r/t transit service I ultimately come down in favor of speed, but what I don’t think people fully appreciate about transit in sprawly non-coastal car-dependent cities like, say, Indianapolis, is that the built environment there is in many respects actively hostile to people who don’t/can’t drive. Redesigning a bus network to favor speed over coverage in such a place needs to come in tandem with redesigning the streets in affected neighborhoods so they favor pedestrians over cars.

**This would, of course, require some changes to 86th Street itself and the built environment around it, but we’re talking like 15 years in the future and a guy can dream.

Posted in indiana, indianapolis, maps, Uncategorized, urbanism | Leave a comment

This Post Comes In Three (Or Four) Parts


There will be a new map tonight or tomorrow. It is not of LA. I am so burnt out on the LA map it’s not even funny. Also the map’s periphery needs serious retooling.


I’m seriously experimenting with getting some of my maps printed, like, professionally. We’ll see if anything comes of that.


A message for white/Western tankies/PRC apologists, because I’ve seen you around:

Hong Kong’s annual pro-democracy handover-anniversary rally was today. Judging from the pictures, there were a lot of colonial flags out, and I’m sure some of you are pointing to this as evidence the HK democracy/independence movement is vile and pro-Western-imperialist-decadence and the PRC’s actions in HK are morally and ethically unassailable. Several things to keep in mind:

  • Please take your obsession with ideological purity and shove it.
  • The People’s Republic of China is not communist. Any country with a McDonald’s in it is not communist. (Note to pedants: the contrapositive of this statement is true; the converse is not.)
  • Saying that the People’s Republic of China so very badly wants an empire of its own (e.g. South China Sea, Taiwan) does not negate or diminish the long, long, long list of American/Western genocides, mass murders, and other assorted imperial unpleasantnesses. It’s the starving-children-in-Africa argument with Groucho glasses on.
  • There are left-wing pro-Beijing people, there are right-wing pro-Beijing people. There are left-wing pro-democracy/independence people, there are right-wing pro-democracy/independence people. Politics in Hong Kong is split across different lines than they are in this/your country.
  • This doesn’t mean that the xenophobic/nationalistic elements of the pro-democracy/independence faction can’t be criticized (they should, oh lord, they should), but attempting a one-to-one correspondence between an HK political faction and a political faction at home will result in gross and wildly inaccurate generalizations, every time.
  • Unless you live there, there’s a pretty good chance I spent more time in Hong Kong than you.
  • Xi Jinping will never have sex with you. Ever. Sorry.


As a reward for suffering through that, here’s the HK MTR station numbering map, slightly redrawn to reflect the system as it exists in 2017. On the house.

mtr with station numbering 2017

Can’t wait until the link between Tai Wai and Hung Hom is completed.


Posted in hong kong, maps, Uncategorized, urbanism | 4 Comments