Subway maps, with their linear, colorful routes, are perhaps the easiest maps to read at a glance—and exactly what you need when your train is already pulling into the station. What if bike maps could be just as easy to decode? Michael Graham, a cartographer featured on CityLab, has reimagined the bike path networks of four different cities in the U.S. and the UK to be more like subway or bus maps.
His spider bike maps (named for the simplified maps used for subway service and some bus routes) turn urban bike infrastructure into easy-to-read lines. Trails are color-coded, and the geographical twists and turns of the real bike lanes are flattened into linear routes that intersect at 45° or 90° angles, just as on most subway maps.
Having a lot of bike lanes is good for safety, but it's also difficult to illustrate on a map. Graham’s maps are easy to read because they don’t hit you with too much information. Unfortunately, that also means they only show major cycle arteries, sacrificing smaller streets with bike lanes for greater readability. But as long as you’re only looking for general directions, they’re a great way to figure out how to bike across a city.
All images courtesy Michael Graham // Spider Bike Maps