OpenStreetMap and OSM Cycle Maps

My second post today after a long hiatus. Hello again everyone.

I’ve mentioned the OpenStreetMap project on here before but I think it deserves more of a mention than I’ve previously given it.

OpenStreetMap is like Wikipedia for maps: they’re producing a streetmap for the world where anybody can contribute. That’s not as far-fetched an effort as it sounds and their coverage is already extremely good in many places, both in terms of area mapped and the detailed information available. As well as the cheap availability of accurate GPS units for individuals to survey with, they have access to some satellite imagery they can “trace” maps from, plus various sources of freely available streetmap data to incorporate. The end result is somewhat like Google Maps but with a number of advantages:

  • You can legally reuse their data in ways that aren't possible with Google maps.
  • They map pedestrian and cycle facilities which Google doesn't have: cycle paths, offroad tracks, bike parking...
  • Anyone can make a specialized map using their data. [/LIST]

    Further on point 3 above, there is a special OpenStreetMap Cycle Map which highlights things cyclists may be interested in: paths, cycleways, public toilets, bike parking, contour lines, etc. You can get it by browsing the OpenStreetMap webpage, clicking the “+” sign in the top right of the map and selecting “Cycle Map”. If you find any maps you want to print off, put on your phone / ipod, or whatever you can click “Export” at the top of the page and it’ll give you a JPEG, PNG or PDF file to save. That’s another thing Google Maps doesn’t let you do.

    Finally, I’ll note that it’s pretty easy to add stuff to OSM so if your area is missing stuff you can look at fixing that :wink: You don’t have to have a GPS although they are useful. Take a look at the contributor guidelines on the website to find out more and to find out what data sources you can use (you can’t just copy stuff from other maps).

    I hope this is of use to some folks. Google Maps is awesome too, Ordnance Survey is good in the UK, Google Earth is good for looking at terrain. OSM is just another handy tool that might help you find cool places to ride - I think it’s worth a look.


  • That’s fantastic. It’s exactly what I needed 10 months ago when I was planning my RTL qualifying ride. I couldn’t find the route of NCR6 on line anywhere! Only little local bits here and there, and I couldn’t find any book shops or cycle shops that had one until I was half way through my first days ride! The route doesn’t look totally complete on OSM, but it’s pretty much nearly there, and would give me a lot more confidence in wanting to follow it.