Map lovers deserve their own route planner

It started in primary school with those big maps that were used to teach us topography. I was good at it, and thought it was fun. Nowadays, I still love reading maps and have a good sense of direction. When I go on a car-trip I usually plan my route ahead, keep it in mind, and drive straight to my destination or am aware quickly when I made a mistake. It feels good, especially on foreign trips.

But many people have different talents or interests. Fortunately, navigation systems take route planning and map reading out of their hands, so they can concentrate on other things. A very useful piece of technology.  I admit that I am fascinated by small devices like a smartphone can tell you where you are and which route to take to a particular destination. But these do not enhance my journeys that much, apart from being entertaining.

Sometimes I think that route planning technology is developed and applied from the eye of a person that is not good at map reading or does not like it. Recently, I was searching for the location of a congress centre, so I could plan how to get there. The contact webpage of this centre showed the address and a small form in which you could fill in your current location to get route advice. I was irritated, because I just wanted to know where it was to plan my own route. Why didn’t they just display the form and a map to serve both map lovers and map haters at the same time?

Another example. A few weeks ago I was going home by train from Almere to Amersfoort. Unfortunately, train traffic was disrupted somewhere near Hilversum, on the usual route. There are other routes available that go around Hilversum, and I was looking for a good connection along one of these alternatives. The train journey planner couldn’t handle this. I needed to fill in two intermediate stations to work around Hilversum, but you could only enter one. As a result the planner kept sending me via Hilversum, while saying that this route was impossible. The solution was to plan each journey segment separately.

Of course, the planner didn’t help the map haters either. But if there would have been a special planner for map lovers, at least some of us would know what to do and help the others out. Map lovers and map haters both deserve their own route planner.


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