My newsreader picked up the press release this morning of the Mayor unveiling his cycling and walking programme for London. It's quite a long package of initiatives, but stems from the recommendations from a strategic review of cycling and walking by Transport for London, so comes from Ken Livingstone the incumbent Mayor, rather than Ken the mayoral candidate. So it's more official than just a manifesto pledge, though clearly any successful mayoral candidate could abandon the plans in an instant.
The item that most caught my eye was the expansion of the Legible London pedestrian wayfinding scheme. This is a really excellent little project, and I've followed it since going to their exhibition and consultation at the New London Architecture centre in 2006. The project aims to 'de-clutter' the streets of the numerous, and often conflicting, signage systems from the different local Boroughs and municipal departments with a single, coherent and highly useable system. There's currently a prototype installed in the roads around Oxford Street, which is well worth a quick examination. Signposts and 'totems' of various sizes contain excellent pictographic maps of the local area, orientated in the way that the sign is facing, and with prominent shops and attractions clearly marked. The bravest element of the scheme is the use of 'village' names to describe different local areas of London. Whilst some of these are commonly used, like 'Bond Street', others are more made-up, like 'South Molton' (the area around South Molton Street). It is all based on some sound cognitive theory and 'mental mapping' though, which you can read about in their downloadable Yellow Book.
In short, Legible London is a forward-thinking and exciting project (especially if you're a map geek like me), and so it's great to read plans for the scheme's expansion.
Most of the rest of the initiatives in the Mayor's press release relate to cycling, which I'm also hugely in favour of, although currently have less of a direct interest (should really buy a bike someday soon). The two most radical plans are for a bike hire scheme modelled on the scheme in Paris, and a series of what have been dubbed 'bicycle motorways' - safe cycling corridors along key routes.
With these initiatives announced shortly after sustainable transport charity Sustrains won £50 million worth of lottery for their Connect2 project, could we be on the verge of a renaissance of cycling and walking?