38446's Diary

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Interval=*, Oxford and Colmar

Posted by 38446 on 24 October 2023 in English (English).

Two years ago I somewhat naively asked on the wiki whether ÖPNVKarte couldn’t perhaps render the interval key somehow. I don’t think it would have to be as nicely designed as Transportparadise’s Oxford Bus Map, which even separates bus routes that share the same way. In my opinion, it would be sufficient to have the different patterns per way travelled (i.e. if two or more lines share the same way the pattern for the most frequent interval could be shown, or, more ambitiously, the intervals added up) for the map to give an overview of where public transport can take you more or less reliably. Unfortunately, I have lacked knowledge, experience and patience to use Maperitive and/or Overpass to try out how this could be put into practice and soon forgot about it.

The reason I came to think of this again was a holiday in Colmar, Alsace, France. To an outsider, the intervals of the city buses there are completely nuts, see for example this timetable pdf. But generalizing “37-48-41-51-44-etc.” into interval=45 would seem acceptable to me and a less fundamental question than how to discriminate between workdays and weekend. I am reflecting on this from a rural setting, where there might be no buses at all on Sundays.

Anyway, to a tourist, Colmar’s and Alsace’s public transport system is grand, amply subsidized and only partly affected by the typical downward spiral.

For our first hiking tour, we started from Wettolsheim Marbach through the vineyards first to the Les Trois Chateaux ruins and then on to the reconstructed Hohlandsbourg before heading back to the bus at Wintzenheim. The bus to Wettolsheim in the morning was in fact an on-demand service, a taxi ordered via the Flexitrace app and included in the normal fare: 1.50€ for a single trip, 11€ for 10 rides or 7€ for unlimited travel in 72 hours within Colmar and suburbs.

Our next trip, an easy half-day hike, took us from Trois Epis to the spectacular view from Hohnack and back to the Walbach bus stop. This route was partly dictated by the timetable because Trois-Epis is only served by a coach that runs three times a day, first at noon, via the scenic village of Niedermohrschwir and again for the cheap Colmar fare.

Similary committed to improving public transport as Colmar City is the whole Haute Rhine region, where Fluo offers any trip for 4€. We got there by long-distance train to Freiburg. The railway connection from Freiburg to Colmar was destroyed in the second world war. German and French initiatives and authorities are working at reactivating it. Now we had to take the S-Bahn to Breisach and then an infrequent and slow coach that serves all the villages to Colmar. This part of our holiday left most room for improvement: it meant that we had to leave at 8.45 to safely catch our train from Freiburg, a mere 50kms away, at 12.55

Well, that was it. Now I am going to enter some benches into the map ;-)

Location: 68000, Grand Est, Metropolitan France, 68000, France

Would-be stadiums and their fences

Posted by 38446 on 23 September 2023 in English (English).

I haven’t been very active on OSM in the past weeks and months - other than work-related reasons this was mainly because of orienteering: competitions almost every weekend, and when I did map, I mapped for orienteering, mainly features that are of no interest to OSM (cf. last blog post).

One orienteering competition, though, caused an OSM edit. The venue was a typical German sports ground consisting of a football pitch, a running track around it, a pavilion building and not much else (no bleachers, no grandstand). Mapped in OSM was the outline of the racetrack, tagged leisure=stadium.

This inaccuracy is quite frequent (a few years ago refining sports grounds was my main pastime in OSM), partly because sports grounds in German villages are often aggrandizingly called “Stadion”.

About its fence: I have to admit that I was never really strict about One feature, one element. But the OOMapper, does not interpret, for instance, “leisure=pitch barrier=fence” as fence filled with open land, which made me realize that it would be clever to abide by the OFOE rule.

So it’s (in JOSM) Ctrl+C, Ctrl+Alt+V to duplicate the area, then tag the new way barrier=fence. Where the entrance is, there is a node which I tagged entrance=main and barrier=gate. In the German Telegram group it was suggested to maybe have entrance=main on leisure=sports_centre only and barrier=gate on barrier=fence only, which I think is somehow logical but I decided against it. Maybe I’ll change my mind after looking at more examples.

Oh, and one more tip for sports mappers: When there is a short track like for 100m or long jump only and you map it as an area, don’t forget to add area=yes, because otherwise it will be interpreted as a rectangular track along the outline of the actual track.

Happy mapping everybody!

Location: 31162, Lower Saxony, 31162, Germany

Today I spent half the day in the forest near Bahrdorf to prepare an orienteering map in OOMapper. First I downloaded the OSM data into the app, then set out with a tablet computer as well as fieldpaper, pencil and compass to add all the features necessary for orienteering. There are of course lots of details to attend to, but I want to write about the role of OSM in orienteering mapping today.

For a forest map that I set up from scratch, OSM data come in handy because they provide a georeferenced basemap to start from. But other than that, 99% of the orienteering map is my work, and there is not much in what I do that is of interest for OSM (except the odd information board or a path that has disappeared).

Things are quite different when it comes to sprint orienteering maps, which mostly show parks and urban areas. The availability of OSM data was a real game changer here, because we used to draw all the building outlines by hand. For a quick training map, there is a webservice that renders OSM data in an orienteering map design and lets you download the map as a nicely styled pdf. Of course, this map will only contain the features that are present in OSM and cannot be edited further, so I still prefer to use the OOMapper app with downloaded OSM data, so I can add whatever features I need for the orienteering map - and more than a few of them will also be useful in OpenStreetMap.

The biggest question here is: do I add the features after downloading from OSM, or before? One the one hand, since OSM data helped save such a lot of time, it seemed only fair to give back. Moreover, if all orienteering features of a specific area were present in OSM, I wouldn’t have to bother about map backups, and every interested orienteer could download a decent o-map from the webservice mentioned above.

So this is what I brought me to OSM. Needless to say, today I spend far more time on OSM mapping than on mapping for orienteering.

There is just one problem: Even with sprint omaps, mapping for orienteering will be an extreme case of micromapping in an OSM context. I don’t want to be the orienteering equivalent of a golf mapper! This applies to paved areas in particular, because we want the exact width of roads and pavements, with parking bays and what not. So what I would really need to do if I wanted all the necessary data for orienteering already included in OSM is use area:highway throughout for the areas that are to be used for orienteering training. But even so, I would need to turn most of the polygons into bezier curves in OOMapper for a nicer appearance when printed in 1:4000.

So I cannot see an obvious solution here. I have experimented with using several road symbols of different widths and aligning the path with the road, but all that turned out to be at least as much work as drawing by hand in OOMapper, which is what I am mostly doing now.

Are there any other orienteers out there in OSM? I would love to hear from you and how you combine or don’t combine your two hobbies.

On-demand bus services

Posted by 38446 on 4 August 2023 in English (English). Last updated on 5 August 2023.

Today I came to think again about on-demand bus service areas. There is one mention on the OSM wiki: this explanation from Belgium, but I’m not sure if it really refers to a service area rather than a line with on-demand stops. The idea of the on-demand bus service area is that from one central stop a small bus will take you wherever you want to go, almost like a taxi, but only at certain times, and together with other passengers (if there are any). The concept has been quite common for some time in rural areas all over Europe. In my opinion, we could just draw the area, give it some tag so it is put down in the data that this rural area is generally accessible by public transport.

Mapper BroccoliB did so here, and his attempt was also what made me think about it again.

The reason I came across his edit was that my wife and I had a day off and used it for a bike ride through the sparsely-populated area north-east of Wolfsburg, just across the former border between West and East Germany. It was nice cycling along the Mittellandkanal - but I have to say that we are quite used to gravel tracks and have equipped our bikes with appropriate puncture-safe tyres. Some excellent pear trees along the road here. No traffic at all because of a road closure further south. When we came to the nearest larger village, we had to decide if we wanted to continue on the road in heavier traffic now or use a track running parallel. To our surprise (it wasn’t mapped as such yet), it had excellently smooth asphalt. For the way back we had opted for a bus line that also carries up to five bicycles (for free!). It’s really amazing what the land of Saxony-Anhalt with its limited resources and sparse population does for an attractive public transport. Lower Saxony could take a page from its book!

Location: 38486, Saxony-Anhalt, 38486, Germany

Today, at 43 years old, I decided to start a blog to note down memorable experiences while mapping.

So this is about a spring day two months ago when I mapped this set of bicycle lockers:

They are located right next to the station in the Czech town of Melnik. They caught my attention when we were waiting for the train that was to take us into Prague. They work like this: You push your bicycle in, drop a small returnable deposit into the slot and that’s your bicycle safely stored for the day.

I could not help comparing them to the bicycle lockers next to the station of Wolfsburg, Germany, where I live. These work like this: You walk up to the operator’s office during their opening hours, sign a contract, pay a fee of 60€ (that’s for a year, but there are no shorter periods available).

I didn’t map anything else that day but there was also a nice public transport experience. At the end of our day trip to Prague we took the bus back from Ladvi to Melnik. It was during afternoon rush hour, so traffic moved slowly between the tower blocks. The bus was quite full, and after a day of sightseeing it already felt a little strange to sit as a tourist between locals going home from work. But when the long-haired bus driver turned up his radio as Queen played “Bohemian Rhapsody”, it felt as if we had been caught in an indie road movie by accident.

Another thing I like about Ladvi is that the green areas between the tower blocks are mapped as appropriate (garden/park/grass).

Location: Mělník, okres Mělník, Central Bohemia, 276 01, Czechia