A tube style map of the Greater Newcastle shared path network

After reading this article on Michael Graham’s London tube style maps (or ‘spider maps’) of cycle networks in different cities around the world, I was inspired to create one for the current (or very imminent) Greater Newcastle shared path network.

What strikes you about the map? Have I missed anything?

What you see below is a modified version of what I originally posted on Facebook following some helpful suggestions.

Of course, it has already been pointed out that the map does not show topography or distance – indeed that is in part the point, to keep things simple. For those who want to quickly know whether they can get from one node to another, maps like this provide a good starting point. If you have never ridden these routes, it would pay to do a little more homework – ask a friend or look online.

I’ve left out some minor shared paths that don’t connect places per se, such as the Lake Macquarie High School to Marmong Point path (also because it was hard to fit that one in… oh the perils of map making!). Edit: the Marmong Point path is now on the map (just!) But the point about some minor paths still stands, e.g. minor connection to Smith Park, Hamilton North, and Queen Street, Warners Bay.

If you’re familiar with the map area, you’ll notice that there are many destinations not connected to the network. For those who are not, Lake Macquarie is about twice the size of Sydney Harbour.

screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-8-14-35-pm

It was very tempting to link some of the routes with a dotted line to show what might be considered safe back streets, but I deliberately chose–for the most part–to stick to the #ages8to80+ rule – infrastructure that caters to the very young, the elderly and all other abilities. If you’re not familiar with “shared paths”, these are simply wide concrete or bitumen paths separated from road traffic that cater to both pedestrians and cyclists. Shared paths are not the be all and end all – its just that we don’t have anything else yet (protected bicycle lanes, for example). And if you didn’t know already, in the State of New South Wales its illegal to ride a bicycle on a footpath (as opposed to a wider sign-posted shared path) unless you’re less than 12 years old or accompanying people under 12.

Finally, it has to be said – linkages between places are important, but safe linkages within places are just as crucial. It’s not good enough to dump people at the edge of busy centres that prioritise cars over people. Such ‘place infrastructure’ is not shown on this map.

The next step would be to convert the lines into the familiar tube-style look of 45 degree and 90 degree angles, as Michael Graham has done.

5 thoughts on “A tube style map of the Greater Newcastle shared path network

  1. I share your frustration about place infrastructure. Shared paths pass the front of Westfield Kotara and there are bike racks in the Centre but there is no cycle access into Westfield. When I enquired at the info desk they were not able to help.

    On your spider map, isn’t there a shared path most if not all the way from Wallsend to Callaghan?

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  2. I saw the original article and was hoping you’d be inspired! Fortunately, our relatively sparse network allows for a pretty clean map. Otherwise things like 45/90 degree joins would become necessary.

    Will be great to see this evolve over time. You could even have the on-road bike paths as dashed lines, as you say, and then replace them with thick line when the time comes!

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  3. I just rode the route from Adamstown train station to Charlestown today. As your map quite rightly shows, it’s actually off road and paved all the way through to Kirkdale Dr in Kotara South. Unfortunately the very short steep track up to Charlestown Rd (near Roberts St) is heavily overgrown so getting to Charlestown Square is still a challenge.

    This route highlights two things that really strike me about the map: even long, complicated, key routes like this look like just a stub on the map, and secondly, relatively minor links would make a disproportionately large impact on the connectedness of the map.

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