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  • Perkins C. and Thomson A. ‘Community mapping: changing lifestyles through participation’, ICC La Coruna July 2005. 


The majority of published leisure maps of cities, whether in hard copy or on the web implicitly reflect the needs of the private motorists and only rarely incorporate users' views about content, media or design. Other modes of transport such as cycling or walking are more often than not 'off the map', or if depicted are mapped according to specifications fixed by those who control an area, rather than engaging with the city 'from below'.

This research investigates the day to day politics of how community views can be incorporated into the design and production process. It is concerned with new kinds of urban community mapping - to help encourage people to walk and cycle, and addresses the questions of how maps might change lifestyles, by focusing upon a case study of community mapping of Manchester.

A comparison of existing published mapping is carried out, to reveal design principles and also a set of practices that can be used to guide the participatory design process. Focus groups, in depth interviews, interpretation of sketch mapping and observation of real-world mapping activity are being used to establish what people living in urban communities might want in published maps. Prototype designs are being tested in a number of different contexts to incorporate community views.

This paper presents some initial results of the research and stresses the need for an iterative, real-world based approach to map design, that is sensitive to the local context and that stresses mapping as a process, rather than emphasizing the map as an end result. Best practice in this area is established and comparison made across different viewing environments. It is concluded that people need to be brought back in to the mapping process, that the map can make a difference, and that cartographic research needs to escape the simplicity of the lab and return to the street!