Walk This Way: Can Rewriting the Subway Map Get More New Yorkers Moving?

Walk This Way-New York City is very walkable in the small scale, with its sidewalks, crosswalks, and walk lights, but maybe not so much in the large: Just the island of Manhattan is over 33 square miles and 13.4 miles long from tip-to-tip. Fortunately, it has an excellent subway system. But what if people carved just a little off their subway transit and added just a little bit more walking to their commutes? How might that impact obesity, health, and wellness?

One new subway map from Treated.com tries to quantify those benefits for New Yorkers by estimating the calories burned by walking between subway stops. By putting a clear benefit on a health-related behavior, this map could influence more people to walk just a little bit further.

Better yet, the map also includes estimates of the time required to walk between stops. This means commuters can quickly understand not just the benefits of forgoing the train, but also the costs (at least in terms of time).

From Treated.com
From Treated.com

As far as I can tell, this subway map is not being used in any sort of public health intervention, but that seems like a missed opportunity. My guess is that posting this sort of map outside of subway stations (or including it on the MTA route planning apps) might lead more people to walk a station further before catching their train.

Of course, the MTA would eventually go out of business if they got people to forgo the subway altogether. The trick is really around nudging them to walk to the next stop, not all the way home. Doing that might require some additional prompts, such as highlighting shops and cafes near the next subway stop, or pointing out that walking backwards a stop might make it easier to find a seat on the train. Nonetheless, the current calorie burn map is a good start.

What do you think? Would this type of map get you to walk a stop further before catching the subway?