I’ll be honest: the London Underground and I aren’t currently on good terms.
As someone who has to brave the squashy, sweaty hell that is rush hour Central line on a daily basis in this particularly sweltering summer, just a single uttering of the word “Tube” makes my fists go all clenched. A guy can only tolerate so many involuntary armpit face-plants, you know?
That said, I am a big fan of maps, and if I wore a hat I’d tip it to Transport for London (TfL) for the work they’re doing on that front. In an ongoing effort to make using the Tube network as accessible as possible for everyone in the capital, a number of alternative maps have been released, each one targeting a different group of commuters.
A few weeks ago we told you about an amended map for anxiety and claustrophobia sufferers, rightly applauded by charities, but there are loads more worth knowing about.
We’ve picked out some of the most useful.
Walking times between Tube and rail stations
Some stations are so full of escalators (Waterloo) and never-ending maze-like corridors (Bank/Monument) that you can keep your fitness tracker happy without stepping foot outside. That said, most Londoners would probably head for the (not-at-all) fresh air and walk some of their journey if something could tell them how long it would take. This map, which covers zones 1-3, does exactly that.
Getting from Vauxhall to Waterloo, for example, is going to set you back half an hour if you walk, but you can do Tottenham Court Road to Oxford Circus in under 10 minutes.
Waking steps between Tube and rail stations
Another one for the exercise-conscious, but this one notes a rough estimation of steps required.
2,000 steps from Angel to Old Street? That’ll ease your post-burrito guilt.
Taking bikes on the Tube
Being able to take your bike on the Tube is handy – that is until a ticket barrier attendant stops you in your tracks like some kind of uniform-wearing Gandalf. Thankfully, TfL have created a map that shows which sections of the network permit non-folding bikes, and the stations that only allow those that fold (most of the really central ones). Green is used for non-folding, clear for the latter.
It’s worth bearing in mind that non-folding bicycles are banned from all lines during the morning and evening rush hours on weekdays. The map also reminds everyone that tandems are never allowed under any circumstances. A shame, but understandable.
Another map shows where it’s possible to reach the platform, or change lines, without climbing a daunting flight of stairs. For the elderly, people with physical disabilities, pram-pushers and anyone lugging a suitcase, this is a bit of a godsend.
As highlighted by a key, some stations have escalators (circled in red), some lifts (circled blue) and some both (circled half red, half blue). Others, such as High Barnet and Upney, are already at street level (circled green).
Tube stations with toilets
Prone to dawdling more than the average Londoner will tolerate, I occasionally deliberately avoid going to the toilet before getting on the tube. Guided by my desperate need to take a leak, I’ll move like a graceful racehorse and often cut the journey time in half. For everyone else, though, suddenly needing to go on a train that you quickly become convinced is taunting you with its frequent tunnel stoppages is categorically The Worst. This map is here to help.
Pretty self-explanatory really. Every station with toilet has a little icon next to it. The Jubilee line is positively teeming with them, but it’s fair to say you don’t want to be doing top to bottom on the Northern if you think a number two could be incoming. You’ve been warned.
Check out the maps in full here.