Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Mapping a Car Free City

There are map visualizations and then there are NYT map visualizations. In I've Seen a Future Without Cars, and it's Amazing the New York Times has created an impressive scrollytelling story map which almost perfectly visualizes the writer's vision of a New York with far fewer cars and far fewer roads.

The article begins with a mapped visualization showing how Manhattan's roads currently occupy an area four times the size of Central Park. As you progress through the article the story map continues to show how roads in the city could be narrowed and sidewalks broadened to create a more people friendly city. It also visualizes how bike lanes could be created to make cycling easier & safer and how bus lanes could help reduce the necessity for cars.

The most impressive part of the NYT visualization is a number of panning scenes which cut from a 3D map of a location to a photograph of the same location (as it is looks now) and then cutting to an artist's impression of how that location could be improved without roads and cars. One map panning scene in particular is absolutely stunning. In this scene the 3D map pans down from an oblique overhead view to a street level view of a busy junction between two uptown avenues. The map view then seamlessly cuts to a photograph showing the junction as it is now - completely dominated by roads and cars. This photograph in turn transitions into an artist's view of how the junction could be transformed by narrowing the width of the roads and widening the sidewalks, creating space for curbside vendors and the space for people to gather and meet.

The proposition that New York should change from being a car friendly city to a city with far fewer roads is one which will meet with a lot of opposition. I love how the scrollytelling story maps in this article beautifully visualize the vision of a car free New York and help to make an interesting argument much, much more persuasive.

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