Motorway Map
of
England,
Scotland
and
Wales

Inspired by the
London Underground map,
created by
Harry Beck

 


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Zoomable, printable
Adobe Acrobat
Version

 


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© Copyright 2005 G Higgins
Contact: motorwaymap@yahoo.co.uk
Web design: CQD Webworks

MOTORWAY MAP FAQ's

WHY?
HOW?
WHAT MAKES BECKíS MAP SO DISTINCTIVE?
WHICH OF BECKíS TECHNIQUES DID YOU USE / NOT USE?
WHATíS WITH THE JUNCTION NAMES?
SHOULD I USE THIS MAP TO PLAN A ROAD TRIP?
ISNíT THIS JUST LIKE ANOTHER MOTORWAY MAP BASED ON THE TUBE MAP I SAW SOMEWHERE ELSE ?

WHY?
Iíve always been a fan of maps, and bought a copy of Ken Garlandís 'Mr Beckís Underground Map'. In 1931 Harry Beck created the first version of his revolutionary design for the diagram of the London Underground, which is still the foundation for the map in use today. Beckís key development was to move away from a pure map Ė with its accurate representation of the geography of the underground network Ė to a system diagram, in which the geography is often very distorted, but the important information is much clearer. I was then given a copy of Mark Ovendenís ďMetro Maps of the WorldĒ, which shows that practically all underground systems in the world owe much to Beck in their own system maps. I then started to wonder what other applications Beckís methods could be applied to. What about a motorway map?

HOW?
MS Powerpoint, information from a very wide range of printed and electronic map sources and my own travels, and help from Colin Sturgeon at CQD Webworks

WHAT MAKES BECKíS MAP SO DISTINCTIVE ?
Most importantly, Beck dispensed with basic geographic realism. He simplified the network by showing it in lines that were as straight as possible, all horizontal, vertical, or at 45į, with regular curves between them. He also placed the stations at regular intervals Ė in the real world, distances between stations vary from a few hundred yards to many miles Ė and used special symbols to mark interchanges. Colour coding of lines, and marking stations with small tags, had been done before. His diagram expanded the very complicated central area, and made the long branch lines to Essex and Buckinghamshire look correspondingly much shorter.

WHICH OF BECKíS TECHNIQUES DID YOU USE / NOT USE ?
I used just about all of them, but with some modifications. I used geographic distortion, strictly vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines, colour coding of lines, tags for junctions, and special symbols for interchanges.

As for modifications, first, Beck was able to use a unique colour to identify each line, but I found that there were so many different motorways that it would have been too confusing to give each one its own colour. So, I introduced small tags to show the motorway identifier at intervals. An unfortunate side effect of this was that the longest, most important motorways tend to have the shortest names Ė e.g. M1, M4, M6 - and thus the smallest tags, while some of the shortest motorways have very long names Ė e.g. A6144(M) - and thus disproportionately large tags. I still wanted a multi-colour map, so I split the system up into arbitrary regions, made up a name for each region, and gave each region its own colour. These regions do not exist in the real world. I also donít have more than one line running in parallel, which the underground does for most of the Circle Line and in other places.

Second, because the motorway network is not continuous, and I wanted it to look as if it is, I have shown the bare minimum of additional lines (roads) to connect the separate elements.

Third, Beck used a different style of tag for the terminus stations, which makes sense because you have to get off the train there. However with motorways you can usually carry on beyond the end of the motorway by going onto the road network, and so the first/last junction on each motorway uses the same symbol as other junctions.

Fourth, all stations on the underground are given a name, but some junctions on my map are not. On the underground, you can join or leave the network at any station, but on the motorway network there are some junctions where you cannot join or leave the network, you can only transfer to another route. For example, you can not join or leave the network at the junction of the M8 and M9, and so I have shown this junction on my map with an interchange symbol, but not given it a name. However at the junction of the M8 and M73, you can also join or leave the motorway network, and so I have shown it with an interchange symbol and also given it a name.

WHATíS WITH THE JUNCTION NAMES?
In Britain, motorway junctions are usually referred to by their number. These can be difficult to remember. It can also be confusing at places where two motorways meet (for example J42 of the M1, J29 of the M62). It gets even more confusing if, after the numbers are first applied, you then build more junctions between existing junctions Ė you either have to renumber them, or create something like J23A. Some countries, such as Germany, have a more sensible approach to this Ė they use numbers, but also names, and the name is much more prominent than the number, and shown on road signs and maps.

I made up names for all of the junctions, so that my map would follow the style of the London Underground map.
Where I have given a name to a junction, this has been based on the nearest town or reasonably large village (or other feature) to the junction. In some cases, junctions appear to be in the middle of nowhere, and it was difficult to find an appropriate place name - sometimes junctions exist mainly to link the motorway to a major road. Many junctions have their own names in real life. For example when I was growing up near J28 of the M62, we referred to it as Tingley Roundabout, because of the nearby village of Tingley. But Tingley is so small that I preferred to refer to this junction as Morley on my map, Morley being a larger town that more people would be likely to have heard of. There are many similar examples like this around the country.

In some urban areas (for example Leeds and Manchester) there are stretches of motorway where the junctions are so close together that it was not possible to identify the part of the city that the junction is in, so I named them after connecting streets.
The names I have given are not necessarily the names that you would see on the signposts on the motorway.

SHOULD I USE THIS MAP TO PLAN A ROAD TRIP ?
No.

ISNíT THIS JUST LIKE ANOTHER MOTORWAY MAP BASED ON THE TUBE MAP I SAW SOMEWHERE ELSE ?
I donít think so. Iíve seen lots of different road maps and lots of different tube maps, and Iíve never seen anything quite like this. If anyone has produced and published something like this before, please let me know and I will publicise it. Just as I was finishing the first version of this and before it went online, I came across this map which is a version of the London Underground map adapted for motorways in the London area. The author happily chose many of the same names for junctions as I did.

And just after this went online, I found this, which is another attempt at a motorway / underground crossover map, so at least two people have had this idea before me.