[Talk-us] cycle.travel US bike routing, and unreviewed rural TIGER

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Sat Jun 13 18:38:17 UTC 2015

Hi all,

At State of the Map US last weekend I was really pleased to unveil 
bicycle routing for the US (and Canada) at my site, cycle.travel.

The planner, at http://cycle.travel/map , will plan a bike route for you 
between any two points - whether in the same city or on opposite sides 
of the continent. It's all based on OSM data but also takes account of 
elevation and other factors.

I "dogfooded" it with a three-day ride around New York state after 
SOTM-US, and it found me some lovely quiet roads in and around the 
Catskills. I hope it'll be equally useful for the other two-wheelers 
amongst us. There's still a lot I want to add (as detailed at 
but I hope you enjoy it.

Plug aside, there's a couple of things might be relevant to US mappers.

First of all, I'm aiming high with this - the aim isn't just to make the 
best OSM-powered bike router of the US, but the best bike router full 
stop for commuters, leisure cyclists and tourers. (I leave the 
"athletes" to Strava!)

Here in Britain, experience over the years has been that good bike 
routing and good bike cartography - historically via CycleStreets and 
OpenCycleMap - are a really effective way of driving contributions to 
OSM. So if you know cyclists who aren't yet contributing to OSM, maybe 
throw this at them - and if it doesn't find the route they'd recommend, 
maybe there's some unmapped infrastructure they could be persuaded to add!

Second, the routing and cartography both heavily distrust unreviewed TIGER.

In other words, it won't route over a rural road tagged as

Any road with tiger:reviewed removed or altered, any road in urban 
areas, and any road with highway=unclassified or greater is assumed to 
be a usable paved road. (There are a few additional bits of logic but 
that's the general principle.)

Unreviewed rural residentials are shown on the map (high zoom levels) as 
a faint grey dashed line, explained in the key as "Unsurveyed road".

I've been finding this a really useful way of locating unreviewed TIGER 
and fixing it... it's actually quite addictive. :) Looking for roads 
which cross rivers, or with long sweeping curves, is an easy way of 
identifying quick wins. My modus operandi is to retag 2+-lane roads with 
painted centrelines as tertiary, smaller paved roads as unclassified, 
and just to take the tiger:reviewed tag off paved residential roads. 
Anything unpaved gets a surface tag and/or highway=track.

I can't promise minutely updates I'm afraid - the routing/map update 
process takes two full days to run so it'll be more monthly than 
minutely. But I hope you find it as useful as I do. You'll see there's a 
tiny little "pen" icon at the bottom right of http://cycle.travel/map 
which takes you to edit the current location in OSM.

Finally, many thanks to everyone who's tested it so far, particularly 
Steve All - your feedback was and continues to be enormously useful.


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