Pedemapia: A Step Forward

This newspaper’s article, entitled “Neighborhood Maps & Meetups” drew several worthwhile responses. The article made a call for work to commence on neighborhood and pedestrian maps of major cities. In turn, it drew the interest of those who are already working on these important endeavors.

Pedemapia is one such proposal. Created by a Maen Zaghloul of Amman, Jordan, it is astounding in its simplicity. The idea, contained in a unassuming Microsoft Word document, is primarily to urge map makers to add pedestrian routes to maps, but secondarily it depicts a particular symbol set to depict gradation. Changes in grade are important bits of information to walkers and cyclists.

Pedemapia appears to be the kernel of a future pedestrian mapping site. I recommend that the author pursue this goal. However lofty it may seem now, it is a chance at greatness. With a meaningful investment of time and money, and perhaps a partnership with Google Maps or Mapquest, the dream of Pedemapia is well within reach. The yield would most likely be a small fortune, and the gratitude of pedestrians worldwide.

In other news, a company called Maponics now offers detailed and researched neighborhood maps for sale, if anyone is so inclined to purchase one. If you are looking for some free entertainment, Google Labs is developing another revolutionary product: Google Transit. So far, it allows residents of select cities to chart a route on mass transit as easily as one can chart an automotive route on Google Maps. There’s still no Toronto. Hear that Google? Add Toronto. And New York for Spooner’s sake! Regardless, it is the latest salvo against the car-focused modern era.

I still believe that pedestrian and neighborhood maps are highly relevant informational tools for the postmodern era. Current maps reinforce cars and governments as the sources of legitimacy. For isn’t it only ‘public’ landmarks, highways, and roads that are featured. They are all we see of cities, so they are how we see cities. It’s no wonder Robert Moses was allowed to have his way with New York City for so many years. The pragmatist in me rejects this thinking. We should identify ourselves rather than being labeled. Neighborhoods emerge through the names on store awnings and local clubs. Pedestrian pathways are still often within the realm of private development. Both need charting, so that we can view ourselves in our own image – not contorted into the unforgiving motorways that clog and suffocate our cities.

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