Mapnificent, now for LA

Suppose you’re out and about in LA, and you’ve got a spare hour. What to do? Where could you go? How far could you go?

Thanks to Mapnificent, it is now possible to figure out just how far you could roam within a certain period of time in the Los Angeles area.

Developed by a German graduate student named Stefan Wehrmeyer, Mapnificent produces Google Maps that show how far someone could travel from one point using mass transit, walking or biking.

Wehrmeyer explains his project in much greater detail here and in the video below.

Mapnificent seems to work well where the topography is flat and the streets are organized into a grid. Check out this 15-minute radius map from the intersection of Wilshire and Normandie based on a weekday morning commute:

How far can a traveler go within 15 minutes from Wilshire and Normandie??

My travel radius widens when I add biking as a transportation option (meaning I’d be willing to bike and/or bus to a destination):

The travel "radius" widens when bicycling is checked off as an option in Mapnificent's Settings feature.

There are some quirks to Mapnificent that will probably get scrubbed out over time.

Jarrett Walker at Human Transit points out that Mapnificent assumes that “waiting time at a connection point is assumed to be a third of the headway, rather than half, because such connections are sometimes timed.” In actuality, noted Walker, “Timed connections are most important at very low frequencies, 30 min or more, where they make a huge difference in travel time.”

Walker also laments the absence of Mapnificent’s ability to adjust walking speed. Nor, I must add, is Mapnificent able to account for factors such as topography. For example, Mapnificent assumes that I could easily make it to various points above Sunset north of UCLA, in 15 minutes — never mind the absence of sidewalks or the topography (hilly and steep) on a weekday morning:

How far could a user go within 15 minutes of LeConte and Westwood, by UCLA?

By and large, Mapnificent is a fascinating tool which should help Angelenos broaden their imagination about where they reach via transit, biking, or walking. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

8 replies

  1. I’ve brought the omission of the fixed rail and BRT lines to the programmer’s attention. Hopefully, this is something that can be quickly remedied!

  2. Gold Line definitely isn’t shown… I live a 5-minute walk from the Gold Line, and none of the Gold Line stops seem to be factored in… it’s saying Union Station is outside of my 60-minute travel time window.

  3. The Blue Line and Green Line are definitely not included. I couldn’t figure out whether the Red Line or Gold Line are properly shown.

  4. This tool doesn’t seem to pick up rail lines. If you place a marker over the red line stop in North Hollywood, it doesn’t show any red line stops as being within half an hour….

  5. What an incredible tool. This really transforms the perception of mobility by bus, bike, and foot, and helps you understand what’s possible on, say, a lunch break.

    Awesome post — I hope to see more of these sort of things on The Source that help make riding transit easier and more fun.