Londoners know it, but not all visitors do: sometimes it's quicker to walk than take the tube. The official London Underground map — designed by Harry Beck in 1933 and arguably the most recognizable transit map in the world — is a masterpiece of compressed design, but this can also make it misleading as visitors confuse proximity on the map and physical distance. To fix this, Transport for London (TfL) has released the first official walking map of the tube, revealing where you can save time by sticking above ground.
The official tube map sacrifices accuracy for clarity
For example, if you're in central London and want to go from Covent Garden to Leicester Square, you might think of jumping on the Piccadilly line. But, in reality, the distance between these two stops is just four minutes on foot. Conversely, if you're going from London Bridge to Borough (maybe to check out the food market), then the official map makes this look like quite a sizable distance. Should you take the tube? Nope, because in reality the two stops are only a nine-minute walk apart.
"What we have seen is that people are desperate for this sort of thing, so we have created it," a spokesperson for TfL told The Evening Standard. "We focused on central London, zones 1 and 2, and based the times of our journey planner. It’s often quite a difficult message for us because people think we just do the Tube and buses, but we’re also responsible for roads, walking, and cycling." You can view the map in full here, or, if you want even more realism, check out this geographically accurate tube map.