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London's cycle network given the Tube map treatment

The London Cycle Lane Map combines classic design approach with central area that reflects capital's actual geography...

Cities including Edinburgh, Birmingham and Bath have all had their cycle routes mapped in the style of the iconic London Underground map – and now the capital’s own network of infrastructure for people on bikes has had a similar treatment.

The London Cycle Lane Map was originally launched in June last year on the London Cycle Network blog, andhas received widespread attention since yesterday when it was featured on Mail Online Travel. There is a zoomable PDF version of it here.

The London Underground map from which it takes its inspiration is purely diagrammatical in nature, meaning it does not accurately reflect the city’s geography – something evident when comparing the familiar version of it with this one from Transport for London (TfL) showing the lines as the actually relate to the capital’s geography.

As this article on the Mapping London website points out, the London Cycle Lane map adopts a hybrid approach.

Centred on the intersection of the East-West and North-South Cycle Superhighways at Blackfriars, the shaded area in the middle of the map, roughly bounded by Exmouth Market, the Tower of London, Elephant & Castle and Piccadilly Circus at the cardinal points, accurately depicts the capital’s geography.

Outside that circle, however, it switches to a diagrammatical approach, meaning that some locations look much closer together, or further apart, than they are in reality.

And while, as the name implies, the focus is on cycling infrastructure and routes specifically for cyclists, it’s noticeable that missing from the map are ones following the Thames Path, as well as along the towpath of the Regent’s Canal, hugely popular among commuter and leisure cyclists alike.

Other maps charting the capital’s cycle network are available, of course – this one, from the London Cycling Campaign and powered by CycleStreets, allows users to find a route by entering the locations of the start and finish of their journey.

TfL publishes a set of 14 maps showing cycle routes in various parts of the city. Distributed via outlets such as bike shops and cycling cafes, they are currently unavailable on the TfL website.

Designed by Harry Beck in 1931, the London Underground map has evolved in the subsequent eight and a half decades as new lines have been added as well as now including other modes of transport such as the Docklands Light Railway and the Overground.

The creators of the London Cycle Network Map likewise plan to update it as and when new infrastructure comes on-stream – it’s already had one update, last October – and they have also produced a separate map detailing cycle routes in South London.

Developed by not-for-profit business The Bike Station, Edinburgh’s Inner Tube Map dates from 2011, while the following year saw the launch of Birmingham’s Top Tube Map, and other places including’s home city of Bath now also have their own versions.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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