Q&A: Michael Tyznik, Columbus transit dreamer/designer

  • Photo courtesy of Michael Tyznik
By Columbus Alive
From the February 13, 2014 edition

Michael Tyznik was just killing time when he accidentally designed Columbus’ most elaborate transit map. Though he considers himself an amateur when it comes to transit design, Tyznik’s map shows how our city’s dream of a highly developed public transit system can be a reality. The Columbus native hopes that when he eventually returns to the Buckeye State from New York City, getting around without a car will be just as easy.

I started this whole project because I basically needed an excuse to draw a transit map. I have always been really interested in maps and transit systems. I have my degree in architecture, but I decided I wanted to work more in a marketing and design capacity. I was basically sitting around when I first moved to New York City because I didn’t have a job, so I started working on it to kill time and add to my design portfolio.

I based my transit routes on previous light rail systems. I added several streetcar lines throughout the central Columbus neighborhoods and along main thoroughfares to the north as well. Some people have made comments that the system is “over-kill” and Columbus doesn’t need so many lines. Maybe I did over-do it, but in European cities the same size or smaller than Columbus, they have even more detailed transit systems. I understand that the culture is different there, and they prioritize public transit more than we do, but it does show that people will use the system if it’s available. It’s totally feasible.

My mom is probably the most excited about the whole thing. I have received some attention from Wired and other outlets, but she is my biggest fan. She has the map as her iPhone case, and even bought everyone in my immediate family shirts with my map design on them for Christmas. I think she wanted all of us to wear them together on Christmas Day. They strangely didn’t arrive on time though…

My transit system might not be right for Columbus, but there are definitely options out there. I am a total amateur when it comes to designing transit systems. There are many very smart people out there who know way more about it than me and are making a change. I think my map helps to illustrate to skeptics that there is a way to build transit in Columbus that can benefit lots of people, not just those who work and live on High Street.

I have always seen myself moving back to Columbus. Compared to other Midwestern cities, Columbus is really gay-friendly and progressive. That’s why I hope they adopt some sort of transit system (mine or otherwise.) I know some ideas have come up, but nothing has happened yet. I just made a map based on what would serve me best, and what I would want when I come back to Columbus. Everything I did is theoretical, but luckily the people at Transit Columbus (transitcolumbus.org) are actively trying to make the change happen.