i forgot to post Rendering Effective Route Maps: Improving Usability Through Generalization the other day, which provides some interesting data on how to render efffective route maps by distorting key parameters:
“Route maps, which depict a path from one location to another, have emerged as one of the most popular applications on the Web. Current computer-generated route maps, however, are often very difficult to use. In this paper we present a set of cartographic generalization techniques specifically designed to improve the usability of route maps. Our generalization techniques are based both on cognitive psychology research studying how route maps are used and on an analysis of the generalizations commonly found in handdrawn route maps. We describe algorithmic implementations of these generalization techniques within LineDrive, a real-time system for automatically designing and rendering route maps. Feedback from over 2200 users indicates that almost all believe LineDrive maps are preferable to using standard computer-generated route maps alone.”
you can give it a spin [sic] at the linedrive site.