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Posts from the Mapping Category


New California Transit Map Simplifies Car-Free Travel Across the State

See a larger version on the CA Rail Map website.

Finding a highway map for a road trip is easy, but comprehensive transit maps for car-free travel in California have always been a little harder to come by.

Not to worry: Alfred Twu and his team of cartographers have created a map of transit throughout the state. The new map features “both intracity and regional rail lines as well as connecting buses, proving once and for all that it’s possible to get to almost anywhere in the state on public transit,” says Twu.

The map ties together networks for Amtrak, BART, Muni, VTA, Caltrain, Altamont Commuter Express, Sacramento Regional Transit, San Diego North County Transit District (NCTD), San Diego Trolley, LA Metro, and Metrolink, as well as key bus and ferry connections.

Of course, travelers can use apps like Google Maps to plan a transit trip automatically, but this map provides a nifty overview of the possibilities for transit trips that are available.

For those looking to reach camping and hiking destinations in Northern California without a car, another great resource is Post-Car Adventuring, a handbook which includes specific guidance on how to reach Big Sur, Mt. Diablo, Lake Tahoe, Tassajara, Yosemite, and Napa using only transit, bikes, and your own two feet.


Mapping a Fully Transit-Connected Bay Area

Brian Stokle's map envisions how the Bay Area region could possibly be connected by future transit projects -- some planned, some only envisioned -- including high-speed rail, BART extensions, and BRT lines. Image via The Atlantic Cities

Imagine the freedom of being able to hop on a nearby train or bus to reach virtually any place in the Bay Area (and beyond) on an integrated network of reliable transit.

That’s the vision cartographer Brian Stokle sought to lay out in a map featured in the latest issue of SPUR‘s monthly magazine, The Urbanist. In a recent article in The Atlantic Cities, Urbanist editor Allison Arieff says that the map, along with another map of existing regional transit that Stokle created, “have generated a lot of conversation (and some controversy) — which is exactly what they were meant to do”:

The majority of the projects, routes, and modes shown in Stokle’s proposed “Future” map (or some might argue, “Utopian”) reflect current Bay Area planning. However in some cases, the mode or route has been changed. In other instances, some new routes have been suggested. For example, BART to Livermore and Dumbarton Rail are two projects that are not included in this map. Instead, access to Livermore from BART is provided by bus rapid transit, and the Dumbarton corridor is served by rapid bus service. New projects that are not currently part of planning, or are in their early phases include projects like the Oakland Emeryville streetcar down Broadway, Capitol Corridor crossing at Vallejo, and 101 Rapid in the Peninsula.

Some ideas are old, some more novel. In San Francisco, the controversial Central Subway (now under construction) is shown extending all the way to Lombard and Van Ness to meet the coming BRT line, which is also extended to connect the Transbay Terminal to Marin County via the Golden Gate Bridge (where a BART line was fought off in the 60’s).

What would it take to bring a comprehensive vision like this into reality, and which projects could be feasibly built? Regional planners are currently figuring that out as they develop the Bay Area’s 25-year Sustainable Communities Strategy and Regional Transportation Plan. Next month, staff from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s transportation financing agency, will present a list of the transit projects they determine to be the most beneficial and cost-effective to build in the coming years. Stay tuned to Streetsblog for more on that.

In the meantime, check out Stokle’s map of the existing regional transit network — one of SPUR’s ideas for saving transit — after the break.

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Mapping Your City with Pictures Taken by Others

San Francisco, as photographed by locals (blue) and tourists (red). Image: Eric Fischer.

Click to enlarge: San Francisco, as photographed by locals (blue) and tourists (red). Image: Eric Fischer.

Data visualization is the rage right now, as city managers release ever more information through open source APIs and creative programmers tease out trends in colorful maps and images, beautifully depicting statistics that would otherwise be stuck in a dense spreadsheet only an actuary could love. Media foundations have been busy giving money to pioneering shops like Stamen, while those in the burgeoning field eagerly await the release of an ocean of new information in the 2010 Census.

Even before the Census results are available, however, creative minds like Oakland resident Eric Fischer have been busy manipulating available data sets to offer insight into the traditional maps of our cities.

Fischer, a computer programmer known to wonks and city buffs for his wonderful Flickr catalog of transportation and development master plans that died on a dusty shelf, has used demographic data to show racial integration in major U.S. cities, to tremendous effect. The maps are marvels, showing how we stereotype portions of the cities we know by racial make-up and how dramatically redevelopment and racialized zoning rules from earlier eras have stratified neighborhoods into singular racial enclaves.

Fischer’s maps have been viewed by nearly a million people on Flickr, more than a few of whom have suggested he sell the images as posters or prints. “Looks like artwork,” writes one commenter of a New York City image. “I would hang this on my wall.”

In his most recent manipulations, Fischer has crunched the GPS coordinates, or geotags, available on many photos posted to Flickr and Picasa to develop maps of the pictures we’ve taken of our cities. These photos represent a living surrealist painting of urbanity, each new picture a dot in a stippled map Seurat couldn’t have dreamed of painting.

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Radical Cartography and Urban Racial Maps

Images: Eric Fisher

Click to enlarge the San Francisco racial dot map. One dot represents 25 people. Red dots represent Whites, Blue is Black, Green is Asian and Orange is Latino. Images: Eric Fischer

When is a map worth a thousand words? Bill Rankin, who maintains a website called Radical Cartography, has generated buzz with his racial and income maps of Chicago, which can test stereotypes Chicagoans have about the boundaries of their neighborhoods.

Rankin notes, for instance, that the boundaries of neighborhoods are always drawn as stark lines on informational maps, yet people in cities traversing their communities don’t always delineate the end of their neighborhood by the same streets (some streets, like Houston Street in New York City or Cesar Chavez Street in San Francisco, however, tend to mark a consensus change in neighborhood for those living near them).

Rankin found when he used dot mapping (one dot represents 25 people, for instance), the demographics can both reinforce those boundaries and blur them.

“There are indeed areas where changes take place at very precise boundaries… and Chicago has more of these stark borders than most cities in the world,” writes Rankin on his website. “But transitions also take place through gradients and gaps as well, especially in the northwest and southeast. Using graphic conventions which allow these other possibilities to appear takes much more data, and requires more nuance in the way we talk about urban geography, but a cartography without boundaries can also make simplistic policy or urban design more difficult — in a good way.”

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