To provide walking and biking directions, we use an open source routing software called OpenTripPlanner. To detect the best bike routes OpenTripPlanner uses the open data in OpenStreetMap.  As a result, if you know of better bike routes than the ones suggested through our platform, some routing problems can be fixed by correcting and improving the data in OpenStreetMap.

OpenStreetMap is like Wikipedia, but for a global map. Anyone can edit it.

RideAmigos updates our routing every night based on the latest OpenStreetMap data, so a change made to OpenStreetMap data can potentially provide better biking or walking directions on RideAmigos’ sites the next day, without any intervention by RideAmigos support staff, potentially expediting resolution of routing issues.

Let’s look at some of the issues that may arise in OpenStreetMap that can affect routing and then provide some guidance on how to correct those issues.

OpenStreetMap issues that affect routing with OpenTripPlanner

Disconnected Networks

Example: a multi-use path crosses through a park, but OpenTripPlanner is routing cyclists and pedestrians on a busy nearby road instead.

Solution: In OpenStreetMap, the multi-use path is found to end at a parking lot instead of an adjacent road. Because the bike network is not connected here, bike and walking directions won’t be routed through. The solution is to connect the sidewalk with the road.

Bike directions incorrectly route through a pedestrian-only plaza

Example: A pedestrian plaza has not been corrected marked to prohibit bikes in OpenStreetMap.

Solution: The solution is to update the designation for the plaza.

Bikes are routed onto unsafe roads

Example: Bikes are routed onto an interstate.

Solution: Confirm how the roadway is classified. If it’s the road has been incorrectly classified as a smaller or safer road, the road type can corrected.

Because safety is the priority ideal routes are subjective, not all of routing issues be handled by modifying OpenStreetMap data.

New bike facilities or sidewalks aren’t being used

Example: A new bike/pedestrian underpass has just been built over a major road, but the bike and walk directions directions don’t take advantage of it.

Solution:  Add new facility to OpenStreetMap.

Correcting Bike/Walk facility data in OpenStreetMap

  1. Find the location you want to review on OpenStreetMap.
  2. Create a free account if you haven’t already. You’ll need one to edit the map.
  3. Click on the facility you want to review and click the Edit button in the top menu bar.
  4. Click on a specific facility you want to review, like a road or sidewalk. On the left side, you’ll see an “Edit Feature” menu appear that shows you all the tags that apply to the facility. Review the tags to see if they appear to correct. Some specific guidance is below.
  5. If facilities are missing or need to be adjusted, use the built-in visual tools to correct the map. The OpenStreetMap map site contains it’s own Help section accessible in the menu bar if needed.
  6. When you are done editing, click “Save”. You’ll be asked to describe your changes, then they will immediately become part of the map.

If the change may affect a RideAmigos site, updated routing in the area can be tested the next day.

Specific OpenStreetMap tags which affect OpenTripPlanner routing

As mentioned above, sometimes facilities just need to be added or connected on the map.

The OpenTripPlanner project documents which OpenStreetMap tags affect routing. In summary, tags are used to confirm which modes of transportation have access to facility, the type of facility and the quality of the surface.