A Travel Map based on Time
I’ve always had this nagging feeling that certain places, even though they are physically quite close, always seemed to be so far away. Further even than distant places, simply because they are more time consuming to reach thanks to a lack of direct highways or too many traffic lights along the way.
So while the shortest route between two points may be a straight line, the quickest route on the other hand is determined by the fastest mode of transportation at your disposal. To illustrate this, I created a time travel map that positions cities relative to Brussels based on how long it takes to reach them using only public transportation.
The first striking thing is the effect of high speed train travel. Distant places such as London, Paris, and, in a few days from now, Amsterdam, are now a lot closer to Brussels than ever before. With Thalys and the Euro-Star, Paris is actually seems easier to reach than many places within Belgium. It’s actually quicker to reach Amsterdam with the Thalys, even though it is more than 200km’s away from Brussels, than it is to get to Riemst at only half that distance from the capital.
The time distortions between near by areas can be quite great too. Take for example Hasselt where I live. It’s just under an hour away from Brussels thanks to a direct train line. Zonhoven, which neighbors Hasselt and is only slightly further away from Brussels, but doesn’t have its own train station. So travelers to this town need to switch to a bus on their last leg of their journey. The result of this is that it actually takes them longer to get home than for a Parisian to get back to Paris.
And if you live in Peer, but work in Brussels, you better make sure you have a car. Otherwise you might as well move to Amsterdam if you have to rely on public transportation. I’m also glad I don’t live in Chimay, though this map might explain why they had to brew their own beer. It simply took them too long to get their alcoholic nourishments elsewhere.
Of course, this is a static time map. A true time map would naturally have to be dynamic. It would have to be linked to GPS, so if I were in Hasselt, all cities would be positioned relative to my new position. It would also need to be time sensitive. During rush hours, Brussels for example would then grow further away from me as traffic jams would increase the time to get there. For a public transportation based map, a city would grow closer by the second until the next scheduled bus or train arrived. If however you missed it, and there is for example only one bus, your destination would all of a sudden jump an extra hour away from you.
If this data was made public and easy to access, It would make for a nice up to date interactive map you can always carry with you on a smart phone.