|MOTORWAY MAP FAQ's
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 ?
Iíve always been a fan of maps, and bought a copy of Ken
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?
MS Powerpoint, information from a very wide range of printed and
electronic map sources and my own travels, and help from Colin
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
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 ?
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
this, which is another attempt at a motorway / underground
crossover map, so at least two people have had this idea before