MIT Student Remaps Paris Based on Travel Time & Carbon Footprint


All Images Courtesy of Xiaoji Chen

I've traveled through Paris via bicycle, public transportation and even the occasional car. So when I saw Xiaoji Chen's original maps of the city, I didn't see them as distorted- they made perfect sense. Chen's maps redraw Paris based not on physical distance between points, but on the travel time between them for each mode of transport. In victories for the green travelers, getting through the city's dense center was quickest on bicycle, followed by the metro system. Chen didn't stop there: she then factored in the carbon footprint necessary to get from A to B.


Click for large version.

While driving is the fastest way to get to the outskirts of Paris, Chen's maps confirm what most TreeHugger readers already know: it's certainly not the greenest. It turns out you can bike anywhere in the city and to a lot of its suburbs and produce than half a kilogram of CO2. You can get anywhere via metro for 1.5kg, but it will take you 3kg to get out of Paris in a car.


Click for large version.

Chen, a graduate of MIT, produced the "Map of Paris: Visualizing Urban Transportation" as part of the school's SENSEable City Laboratory research initiative in May of 2010. Her features some great work with maps based on information ranging from the sky color of Chinese cities to cell phone calls made in the United States.

Chen's goal in remapping Paris was to change not how visitors and locals look at the city, but how they think about traveling within it. "This would have a psychological influence on the user when he decides which transportation makes the trip easier," she writes. Hint: if you can't bike, take the metro. Ditch the car, unless you really need to get back to the 'burbs in under an hour, no matter your carbon footprint.

For more stories like this, follow me on Twitter.
More unconventional maps:
Interactive Map Shows Where City Roads Need Fixin'
Laser-Created Solar Maps Help Cities Meet Energy Needs
Here's the London Underground After Nine More Decades of Climate Change. Don't Forget Your Goggles

Related Content on