It's like progressive disclosure in software. By requiring some level of expertise even to see the options, you help to ensure that novices can't accidentally break things (in theory, at least). Imagine what would happen if TfL did this explicitly with signs saying:
<-- Quick route that way :: Easy route that way -->
They're making the decision for you, assuming that if you're not sure, then you need the easy route.
Other examples of this in the physical world:
* The 'Black diamond' lane in airports (especially when they weren't advertised)
* Special unadvertised rates in hotels
* Theme parks with tickets for bypassing queues, though when these are advertised, they're more like price discrimination than progressive disclosure.
In our new beta site (yet to launch) Walking and Cycling are right up front alongside public transport so we're pushing more options to the user.
Google Maps and sat nav devices tend to send you the more direct route, however, so I wonder if this technique may prove useless in future and force significant redesigns or even laws to prevent navigational devices making these suggestions.
A memorable one for me is the A6/A7 through Lyon (France). The signs are adamant you should take a 10 mile detour to head south of Lyon despite the A6 (solely marked as "Lyon Centre") going in a straight line under the city without interruption. August is probably the only time it makes sense and even then the entire A6 is blocked as it is..
A good (geeky) read about all kinds of traffic issues including routing.
It works for network traffic too as OSPF will pick the shortest path, but we can alter routing tables to correct for that.
I wonder if people not in England are aware that London is full of these things, all linked to the DVLA (car licensing people) who mail you bills if you don't pay the toll.
Sixty quid aware as of yesterday evening.
120 quid if I did not pony up right away. 180 if they have to write again to remind me.
Trust me, we are very very aware of the number plate recognition cameras.
The DVLA does a fairly good job of acting like a ETL tool - I paid for my road tax recently. Legally I need to have an MOT (road worthiness) certificate, car insurance, valid drivers license - each one passes data back to the DVLA and when I go to pay up, I no longer have to traipse to the post office with documents in hand, just hit their website and they already know my documents are in order.
Only a small liberal part of me worries, the rest takes the convenice
I'm pretty soft about data and my government, but even I think Capita stink.
Next time you're on the tube, especially at commuter time, take a look up and down the carriage at all the miserable sods slumped there, and try to smile.
I find it hard to suppress outright laughter these days.
Granted, I cycle to work because commuting by tube is not the most pleasant experience, but I love being able to get anywhere in the city at the drop of a hat without the burden of car ownership.
As I said, glad it ain't me any more.
I think the reason is that the first train to show up is delayed, so more time passes before it shows up, allowing a crowd to build up. They, then, all try to cram on the train that FINALLY got there because GOD who KNOWS how long it'll take for the NEXT ONE to get here. Meanwhile, 30 seconds later, I'm in a train car with a seat.
(NB: This seems to apply to the B/D/A/C lines in Midtown. As far as I know, the 4/5/6 is always a miserable pack of people doing their best impression of neutronium.)
Though I'll now be the one suppressing a cackle. I probably look the mad one. There's one on every carriage...
I take back what I said.
Edit: but seriously, the subway is a lot of what makes living in a city bearable, or even what makes it better than living outside a city. I would take a 40 min commute on a train over a 40 min commute in a car any day.
And you see a massive difference on many of the commuter trains as opposed to London Underground - come weekend, for example, a lot of the commuter trains have a relatively cheerful atmosphere and a lot of people breaking out a beer or wine and relaxing, for example...
Travel on the Underground outside of rush hour and the atmosphere is a lot more pleasant (though Londoners will still try exceedingly hard to avoid eye contact with you).
But the people on it are all fecking miserable!
I've found the drivers in London to be better in general than the rest of the country. There are cyclists EVERYWHERE. No car is surprised to share the road with one and they all know what to expect from them. I'm not saying everyone gets along, but I've never felt particularly unsafe, and I used to ride 27 miles total commute a day.
Contrast that with other cities I've lived in where cyclists are more of a rarity. The motorists simply don't expect them, so they don't factor them in to decisions like how much stopping distance they'll need, whether they'll bother to look left before turning, whether there could be something behind that bend (when you can see 1/3rd of the road and so expect to see something as wide as a car). They also expect to average a much higher speed, and so IME get aggressive much more quickly when they feel they're being held up.
Don't even get me started on countryside drivers, with their 70mph round blind bends on two way roads not wide enough for two cars...
Actually, London is improving on almost every front. My chief complaints when I moved here were the scarcity of good coffee, the total absence of burritos, and the lousy cycling conditions. Now there are "cycle highways" growing like kudzu out of the city centre, and you can't throw a rock without hitting a burrito joint or a yuppie-calibre independent coffeeshop.
I'd definitely agree with that (I commute 8 miles each way in London).
It was made very obvious to me when I had to go into the office one weekend. The standard of driving from the weekend drivers was dreadful as they seemed to spend most of their time looking at road signs and wondering if they're in the correct lane(s) rather than looking out for other road users.
- Transvision bus overtakes me partially and before it clears me completely it returns to the left almost pushing me against some rails on the road. Had to bang the bus with my fist to make it stop.
- Some car makes a U turn in Whitechapel road ( I think you can't do this ) and comes into my lane. Almost crashed into it.
- All of a suden lost control of the back wheel of my bike. When I turn around to check if I had a flat or something I find a cab pushing the bike from behind. I couldn't believe what the driver was doing and told him that he could have killed me. Is reply was: "get out of my way".
- Pedestrians who don't see you coming because their brain is only tuned to cars and buses and somehow you look invisible even when you are shouting expletives to warn people to get out of the road.
- Had to wear a mask to stop feeling sick.
Finally I realized I was actually getting more stressed out from the bike commute than from taking the tube, so I gave up.
When I lived in Barcelona it was a real pleasure to ride my bike everywhere.
In London it's a struggle, at least for that particular commute.
And on a bicycle it only takes one black swan to make some serious damage.
- Pedestrians who don't see you coming
This one struck a chord with me as it's my biggest issue with cyclists (and I am one). The pedestrians have right of way, so you have to ride defensively.
Also, I've nearly been in a collision with a cyclist who thought it was OK to run a red light on a pedestrian crossing.
When I'm on my bike I obey the road laws, I don't see why so many people have a hard time with this.
The closest I ever came to hitting somebody was a middle aged man who full on stepped out into the center divider nowhere near a crosswalk without even looking right while I was bearing down on him with a string of motorcycles behind me. I had one car length to stop, endo'ed up and sort of jumped off to the side of him which I could do because I'm on a mountain bike with great brakes and I ride defensively like you say. If I hadn't been there holding the pace, those motorcycles behind me could have been going and lot faster, and frankly they would have done a lot more damage had they actually hit him. I often wonder how people get hit by buses, but cycle commuting in London has shown me: given enough people someone is guaranteed do something ridiculously stupid and suicidal.
Oh and don't get me started about the tourists at Piccadilly Circus / Trafalgar Square (they won't get hit because everyone who drives there knows the herds of pedestrians aren't paying the least bit of attention to what's going on around them).
I live in a town (in the US) which is fairly bike-friendly; a lot of places have nice paved paths and trails separate from the streets, and places that don't have them often have dedicated bicycle-only lanes. But a lot of people just won't use them, so I started asking my friends who biked everywhere why that was.
The responses, almost universally, were complaints about pedestrians -- "they get in my way", "they slow me down", "I never know when one of them is going to pop out from somewhere" -- and basically boiled down to these slow annoying people, I don't want to share my path with them. Which is the exact same attitude they complain about in car drivers.
Many people don't, unfortunately.
I hope you took his number and reported him. Both to the police, DMV and the Public Carriage Office...
I used to have early starts and needed to be in the office at 6:45, the adrenaline rush was very effective in going from sleepy to wide awake and terrified.
There are actually some nice commutes from East London through to the city. The best ones involve the Grand Union canal or cycling through Victoria park.
Though the tube no better, can still get a black soot build up from legacy old days when they ran steam trains along the tracks and used coal, still soot built up that gets disloged even after all these years. Many tunnels it built up upon and with that can get a tissue and clear your ears and nose and the build up is greater than the old days of being in a smokers pub with all the windows and doors closed for twice the duration of your tube time.
But some lines better than others and newer, parts of the Northern line (black line on the tube map) I always found very aptly coloured when compared to post travel nose and ear tissue.
I also hope you have a travel camera, so can name and shame those nutter drivers on youtube like some people do. I certainly would not wish to brave the roads of central London upon a cycle due to the danger aspect from other road users, not for the faint hearted.
I do know the Northern line in parts pre-dates electrification and deisel trains have been used as well as steam in the past -- last steam train was replaced in 1971 -- though which line I do not know and probably overground part of the service.
Though given it is underground then it is very probably a lot of dust and other crap air particles end up sinking into the tube system, certainly do not reccomend looking up in detail as can get dust from building waste and asbestos dust to some degree, though I'm sure nothing to worry about based up todays `safe` levels and limited samplerlings, Hmmmm.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_line Interesting read.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Underground_diesel_loco... as proved insightful.
Think all we can really say is, it has added value air that some may not agree with more than others. Still least we all don't go around with surgical masks, I can see why some do and it will be those having the last laugh.
I definitely arrived in better shape and with a better attitude.
I recently visited my girlfriend who is studying abroad in the UK and I was dumb enough to arrive in London at 7 AM on a week day and take the tube from Zone 1 to Zone 4. Never again.
Next thing I noticed, which kind of freaked me out, was on the walk over bridge that connects Waterloo with Waterloo East. You enter with the herd, and its kind of pure random noise. What is interesting is that by the time you all get to the end of the walk way, more often than not, every one would be walking in pure synchronisation, like a marching army. They became one. Almost like Borg.
Noticed something new recently. So many people now have their noses buried in smart phones or tablets, fingering away. Even less chance of breaking the barrier. They will never see you smile...
It is a stronger effect if the people know each other and are having a conversation, but it may well be that if most people have their noses buried in a phone it happens as well - maybe audio plays a part and subconsciously hearing footsteps they sync up their footsteps.
Especially as it gets out of the centre and the folks around you are the commuters rather than the tourists or partygoers.
I've been away from the UK for a while now, returned for 7 days about a year ago and on the way back to the airport on the underground at the end of an awesome week got a text from a friend telling me I look like Aidan Gillen (that's Tommy Carcetti from the Wire), so naturally I was grinning ear to ear and didn't care who saw. The contrast between my mood/appearance and absolutely everyone around me was just bizarre. I got a few grumpy confused looks from people who must have thought I was mentally ill.
I was told by someone the other day that when I do permanently return to the UK I "ought to move into the working-in-London phase". I'm hoping I will have the option not to - definitely more of a day-tripper London fan here. And don't even get me started on the black snot! How is it possible that even in single day the contents of one's nose can change colour like that?!
The contrast was most apparent to me within a few days of when I moved back here from Australia.
These days I live on the south coast, it's quieter, there seems to be adequate work (and I'm trying to make my own). I'd rather move abroad again than back to the city.
My commute (when not cycling) is now just a single commute from Zone 2 to Zone 1. Never a seat on the way in but it's just 18 minutes.
One thing I would say is that I've heard that no matter where one lives in London, the black snot goes away pretty quickly after moving there. I find that hard to believe (because: "why?") but so many people have told me it I think it must be true, except now you've said that for you it was constant so I don't know what to think any more.
Another thing is that "Plenty of opportunity to work in London and avoid the most horrible snot / commute issues.." fills me with hope! Cheers!
The key living-wise is to get to know the suburbs. There's a huge degree of variability in ease of commuting. I live in Croydon, which is about as far South as you can be and still be in London. It has a largely undeserved bad reputation (mostly because the centre was rebuilt extremely unsympathetically after the war), but is green and leafy, extremely cheap for London, and most importantly is extremely well connected - I moved here from Barnes in zone 3, and I can get in to the centre about twice as fast now despite living substantially further away.
Work wise, for technology jobs, there's quite a bit both East and West of the centre, and it's worth considering that a lot of larger tech companies actually have large offices outside of London, particularly Slough, Reading and surrounding areas. (e.g. you'll find Oracle, Microsoft, Amazon and many others in that corridor)
I work in Chelsea now, and so can easily bypass the centre entirely (I go in to Clapham Junction in South London, which takes 10 minutes, and have one stop from there to work - another 5 minutes train)
I visited Berlin two weeks ago and got black snot after 1 day of using their metro system.
The cause? To quote Nelson Muntz - "That's like asking the square root of a million. No one will ever know."
The London Underground fascinates me. The number of older rail networks (there was once a stretch of tunnels that were little wider than a crouched person and used either for mail or money - i forget which). The tunnels used during WWII as Churchill's bunker. The closed stations that feel like eerie to walk around. The hidden tunnel that were dug at Tottenham Court Road purely as a way to displace the other dirt due to the logistics of the location of the station. The experiments with spiral escalators...and so on.
It's a great marvel to think what the Victorians gave us Londoners more than 100 years ago. They saw out the old century with a world pioneering transport network. Then 100 years on, a technologically superior country decides to celebrate it's century with a big, ugly dome. :(
There's so much infrastructure below the streets of London - it never ceases to impress and interest me.
Now privately owned as the O2 Arena: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_O2_Arena
Sinclair expanded the column below to make the short book.
Or three changes on the tube. Guess which one I took?
Eventually one works this all out, you know which doors to stand at to be close to the exit on your next station, why going up down stairwells is a popular pasttime, that St Pauls and the City are warrens of short cuts, something that is not possible in boringly grid like cities such as Manhattan. Really guys. I have walked across half of Manhatten and just counted the streets and never gotten lost. I can get lost in ten minutes in central London. Stumbling across random streets you have never seen in twenty years of living in London - that's what I call a "proper" city.
If I lived in London I'd like to think I would make a project out of finding all the shortcuts and hacks like this applicable to my routine. I'm sure the video is only the tip of the iceberg (especially as Tom Scott generally really knows how to make his stuff short and sweet - anyone else feel the video was edited to pretty much perfection?).
I'm often amazed at how often people don't do this. The last place I worked was always a nightmare to get to because of traffic, so I worked out all the possible shortcuts I could take depending on where the congestion was. I thought everyone did, until I was discussing this with colleagues who then revealed they just set off for work earlier.
One of them even lived right nearby and didn't know some of these shortcuts - all you needed was google maps.
... though it is a low tech solution to an otherwise extremely costly redesign of the station.
I don't class it as a 'lie' to quietly favour crowds flowing in a safe manner over the quickest route. They are the experts in what is safe for peak crowds, not some bloggers.
Of course I regard it a 'lie' that the platform crowding at places like Bank is very safe at all.
Calling it a "lie" is effective headline writing.
I responded to the comment and the 'lie' title
Besides, watch videos and stuff at work on a phone over your own data connection.
I do understand your main point but it's by no means the "quickest" route. Following the signs tends to spread people out. Even at busy times, it's still quicker to take the shorter route out, despite the extra crowding. Regular commuters already know this.
This is a good example of the conflict between individuals who want to get between points A and B as quickly as possible and the station that wants manageable flows without crowding.
> I don't class it as a 'lie' to quietly favour "crowds flowing in a safe manner" over "the quickest route".
It's a well-formed statement, not a dangling comparative.
Here's a site that has diagrams of how some of the stations are put together:
The Bank <-> Monument short cut I figured out by myself. Although it's more or less in a straight line, you have to go a long way down before coming back up again.
How efficiency is being judged needs to be specified here.
The most efficient route for the good of the whole system over its entire operating week may be quite inefficient for individual people on their individual routes at specific times. To traffic management analysis you are not an individual, you are part of the mass of a flow in a collection of interconnected flows.
If the signs were dynamic so could change gradually as congestion starts and moves around the system then this would disparity would reduce, as at quite times people can be sent the most direct way and at busy times the way that will reduce their impact on the congestion. That would be a costly upgrade though.
There are shortcuts through the stations, and unmarked turnings to places you want to go that are quicker than the marked ones, when you get to know the stations you change at frequently.
Yes, it does. The tube map at 0:21 makes it look like the walking distance between Lancaster Gate and Paddington is about 75% of the tube distance. What you see at 0:48 is a regular map, which shows that it's more like 10%
Given the location of the new concourse this is not as bad as it used to be. I suspect it would however be better if they sign posted the old exit onto the Euston Road as being for the buses stops, otherwise you end up walking for 5 minutes in the wrong direction and have to double back when you get above ground.
But I get it, I measured it out once. One of the tunnels is 12 steps longer than the other.
Then someone made this: http://stations.aeracode.org/#bnk
Second, if this does have some relevance to HN with regards to usability, then this is a usability success, not a failure. Are there more efficient ways for one person to navigate the tube system. Absolutely. Does this means it will be efficient for all. No.
You might enjoy this excellent video of his talk at Ignite a few years back: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyMdOT8YJgY
Probably came into work via the Tube :-)
as did many others, clearly
I, like many longstanding active members here, care about the community and I don't see the relevance. It has nothing to do with hacking, entrepreneurship, or is generally all that interesting. But the author got my click, my eyeballs and my response, so he wins.
ps - Didn't take the tube in, I work from home :) I think the tube is very well maintained actually.