However incorrect maps are not uncommon. ‘Trap Streets’ are fake streets placed onto a map by its designers, to increase the chances of catching someone stealing their work. According to a spokesman for the Geographer’s A-Z Street Atlas, there are around 100 trap streets alone in the London Atlas, which is around one per page.
This is Lye Close in central Bristol, however if you actually go there, there is only a row of houses. This is a well known trap street.
These trap streets are not just used in paper maps, there have been a few cases where trap streets have been exposed on Google map.
Trap streets are known as Copyright Easter Eggs, which are features added deliberately to help identify it’s original author. ‘Esquivalience’ is a fictitious entry in the New Oxford American Dictionary and an example of a copyright easter egg.
“People need to be familiar with certain elements of a map for them to be of any use”
It is said that Dartmoor in Devon is the most difficult place in the UK to navigate because it has no recognisable features.
If you type ‘simple map of london’ into google images, you get images like this:
Which aren’t really useful at all. It doesn’t really help you navigate anywhere but instead provides you with a rough idea of where certain landmarks are.
Whereas this one may be of slightly more help:
It is helpful because it is far more geographically accurate as well as including major roads and attractions.
Which is why some people have so much difficulty with the tube map, because it is hard to relate to at street level and is not geographically accurate.
The image above is a proposed new tube map design, which is geographically accurate, which may help to avoid confusion.
I briefly played with the idea of modifying maps to make them really blunt with an aim to make them more understandable.
But this wasn’t as effective as I had hoped, it was only really funny if you knew the area.
Developing the Trap Street Idea
“You Are Not Here”
My aim was to find trap streets in the London A-Z, and take photographs of where the street should be. Or take a photo of myself on the non existent street.
I started by photocopying pages of the A-Z, and comparing the roads on it to the roads on google maps, checking one by one that the roads matched up by crossing them out. This was a long tedious process but I found one on the first page.
The Non-existant Whitfield road in Blackheath.
This is google’s view of General Wolfe Road, the road opposite where Whitfield road should be. The image above shows google earth looking out over the grass where Whitfield Road should be.
I continued to look for other trap streets, but had no luck.
I decided at this point that I already had the example that I needed, and to stop this time consuming process and focus on ‘Whitfield Road’.