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ExpresswayDave's Diary

Recent diary entries

I’m writing this entry mainly to say that I intend to put maxspeed tags on a lot more Champaign streets now that I have the information I need to be on pretty firm ground in doing so. That information is in the form of the default (read: non-posted) speed limits on roads in Illinois and Champaign.

First, the Illinois state laws on this. According to the Illinois Vehicle Code the speed limit in urban areas regardless of whether it’s residential, a business district, or an industrial area is 30 MPH unless otherwise posted. In alleys it’s 15 MPH. The one exception is near schools where the limit is 20 MPH, but signs must be posted in those areas.

The Champaign Code of Ordinances is the same with one exception: the university district. Here the unposted speed limit goes down to 25 MPH. If you’re wondering what the definition of that district is, it’s in the definition section but I’ll quote it here since it’s short enough:

University District means that area within the following boundary: Start at University and First, proceed east along University south row line to Wright, proceed south on Wright (extended) along City limit line (located at the back of east curb) to Windsor, proceed west on Windsor along north row line to Neil, proceed north on Neil along east row line to Springfield, proceed east on Springfield along south row line to First, proceed north on First along east row line to beginning.

Keep in mind it does not include the section of the University of Illinois that’s in Urbana. I’m focusing on Champaign so I’ll leave it to you to look up Urbana’s code on this.

The point of all this is that unless a speed limit is otherwise posted or a street or road goes through the University District it’s safe to set maxspeed=30 mph on streets and roads and maxspeed=15 mph on alleys, even without a sign.

As for riding bicycles on sidewalks, the Illinois Vehicle Code allows it, and in the city of Champaign it’s legal outside of business districts according to the Champaign Code of Ordinances. As for what constitutes a business district, that’s in the same Definitions section as the one I got the boundaries of the University District from, and I’ll quote it here:

Business district shall mean the territory within the City contiguous to and including a street or highway when within any six hundred (600) feet along such highway there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes, including but not limited to hotels, banks, or office buildings, railroad stations, and public buildings which occupy at least three hundred (300) feet of frontage on one side or three hundred (300) feet collectively on both sides of the street or highway.

In other words riding on the sidewalk is legal unless the street or highway has shops, restaurants, an industrial plant, or railroad station along it. Riding on the sidewalk where people live or through parks is just fine.

Waterloo Sidewalks

Posted by ExpresswayDave on 10 July 2022 in English.

I spent most of my time today adding sidewalks in the area of Waterloo where my parents live, basically in an area boxed by Brookridge Drive, Kimball Avenue, Ridgeway Avenue, and 9th Street. There are some other areas of Waterloo that have sidewalks and crossings mapped, but they tend to be near downtown which, while useful, is a small percentage of the sidewalks that exist in Waterloo.

I actually haven’t been in the area since Easter weekend, but between the satellite imagery and my own memory I think I did a reasonable job mapping the sidewalks and crossings. I actually didn’t know about putting a node where a sidewalk/crossing and the road it’s crossing intersect until I got well into it, but I’m glad I went back and read the OSM Wike entry on Key:crossing as I hadn’t been creating the intersecting nodes until I did. I haven’t seen the results in OsmAnd yet (which is where I’ve seen crossings here in Champaign), but I’m pretty sure they’ll show up now that I’ve added them.

Admittedly part of the reason why I’m mapping these sidewalks is to direct some attention to where there aren’t sidewalks in Waterloo, but in my opinion there should be. A good example is here where the sidewalk on the north side of Park Lane ends after the Kimball Avenue access road crossing, but then starts again by Brockway Road, the next street to the west, only to end again at Colby Road. Gaps like this exist all over southern Waterloo, forcing pedestrians to either cross twice to stay on the sidewalk, move onto the street, or cut through the grass where the gap is. I’m hoping that by mapping the sidewalks I can highlight these gaps and maybe motivate people still living there to get them filled in.

I'm Not Dead

Posted by ExpresswayDave on 3 April 2022 in English.

I know it’s been about two years since I’ve written an entry in here. Truth is that I haven’t been mapping as much as I used to and inclined to write about it even less.

That said I haven’t been completely idle:

  • Added more details to Vermillion Regional Airport in Danville, Illinois. Having been a member of the Illini Glider Club allowed me to do that since I was going there pretty much every weekend. Unfortuntely I had to give it up when I became unemployed in November of 2020, but I’ve been at my new job for almost 6 months now and I plan on rejoining sometime between mid-July and early August.
  • I added the bike lanes and sharrows along Main Street in Urbana from downtown to the Kickapoo Rail Trail. I did this over a year ago and was surprised no one else had done it since it’s the main connector between the rail trail and the rest of the bike routes in the Champaign-Urbana area.
  • Cleaned up/added the bike lanes and sharrows in downtown Champaign. I added the bike lane along Walnut Street (which unfortunately doesn’t have one going in the opposite direction on one of the adjacent streets, unless you count State Street, which I don’t), added the bike lane along Clark St/Logan St, removed the bike trail marking along Clark St west of Randolph since it’s not marked with signs or pavement markings (it’s marked as one in the Champaign County Bikes map only)
  • Added more maxspeed and minspeed tags in Iowa and Illinois. Besides the motorways I’ve been paying attention to US 30 in and east of Cedar Rapids, IA 38, and IA 130. A hint for other mappers who want to add maxspeed tags for highways that go through small towns: like Pennsylvania the speed limits in Iowa tend to change in or near the city limits of these towns, though Iowa’s a bit more flexible than Pennsylvania is. Also, adding minspeed tags to the Interstates in Iowa and Illinois is easy since you can just download and select all the members of the route relations for them and add them that way.

As far as what others have done that I’m watching, that mainly applies to the construction of the I 80/I 380/US 218/IA 27 turbine interchange near Coralville. I’m still surprised that IowaDOT went with a turbine instead of a cloverstack, which has been their historic favorite. I would have gone for keeping the cloverleaf but adding collector/distributor lanes myself, similar to what OhioDOT’s been doing and to the I 74/US 150 interchange in Danville, Illinois (and which I wish ILDOT would convert older cloverleaf interchanges into).

I’ll also be moving to west Champaign in a couple of months. This means I’ll be focusing less on downtown and more on the area near Parkland College, including more of the Greenbelt Bikeway. Most of the changes I made there were made when I worked in that part of the city. Once I move I’ll have even more time to focus on that area since I’ll be living there.

Greenbelt Bikeway Edits

Posted by ExpresswayDave on 11 April 2020 in English.

I finally got around to fixing the Greenbelt Bikeway in Heritage Park in Champaign. Notable edits:

  • Cutting off the section that goes over Copper Slough to reconnect to the loop around Kaufmann Lake. This doesn’t actually exist as part of the trail, and is in fact a steep incline. I’m guessing so many people have been using it to go between the abandoned section of the Greenbelt Bikeway and the loop around Kaufmann Lake that to whoever was using satellite imagery it looked like a dirt path.

  • Speaking of the abandoned section, added the way of the abandoned section of the Greenbelt Bikeway that went in the tunnel/culvert along with Copper Slough. Yes, the Champaign Parks District built a cycleway that shares a tunnel/culvert with a creek and then made cyclists forge the creek to continue on what was then the concrete cycleway. It should be no surprise that this section of the trail is completely unusable thanks to all the water damage over the years. I tagged it with abandoned:highway=cycleway so it won’t show up on the main map, but those of you editing will find it. There’s plenty of evidence for this existing for anyone who wants to survey the area.

  • Added the section that goes around the west side of the pond in Heritage Park, just south of Bradley Avenue. This area is clearly newer than the rest of the Greenbelt Bikeway, so new in fact that it’s not even on satellite imagery yet. I used my own GPS traces to map this, so it may not be completely accurate and may need fixing.

  • Added surface tags all around. This is especially important for the section that’s being used as a detour around the abandoned section that went through the tunnel/culvert as that section is a dirt path. Everything else on the Greenbelt Bikeway is either concrete or asphalt.

A note to other mappers mapping footways and cycleways: the way they’re rendered changes based on what the surface tag is set to. By default they’re rendered as dash-dots, but surface=concrete or surface=asphalt will change them to the more prominent dashes instead.

Dubuque Trip

Posted by ExpresswayDave on 18 March 2020 in English.

I took a trip to Dubuque, Iowa the weekend of Feb 28 to March 1, and have just done quite a bit of editing during that trip. I didn’t just travel to and from Dubuque, but also along some of eastern Iowa’s expressways, including U.S. 151 from U.S. 61 to IA 13, then north on IA 13 to U.S. 20, then on U.S 20 all the way to I-39/U.S. 51.

I’ve got the addition of info for that round pretty much completed, minus some of the maxspeed tags on U.S. 61/U.S. 151 in Dubuque. All the sections marked as trunk except for a small part of U.S. 20 between East Dubuque and Galena are also expressways, so I added the expressway=yes to these parts. In the section I mentioned I used expressway=no for the first time since there are driveways straight to peoples’ garages in that section, which is on the eastbound part only.

I have more to do regarding Dubuque itself. One of the places I used to hang out at when I lived there, Monk’s remains unmapped. I don’t know why I didn’t change this back in 2013, but I have the means to change it now, and I’ll do it later. Also there’s a lot of cycleways and footways in the new Bee Branch Creek area that are currently unmapped. I have the GPS traces to do most of the mapping, but it’s really better handled by someone who currently lives in Dubuque. Nevertheless I plan on doing it if no one else has already.

One thing I’ve also been concentrating on is minspeed tags. Both Iowa and Illinois have minimum speed limits on all Interstates and most non-Interstate freeways, mostly for keeping farm equipment off of them; the freeway sections of U.S. 20 in both Iowa and Illinois are examples of the latter. Minspeed tags don’t get the attention that maxspeed tags do, so I’m doing my part to change that.

And I haven’t forgotten the other mapping I’ve yet to do from my previous entry.

I’ve seen others use the diary feature to good effect, so I thought I’d join in. I actually have a lot of work backlogged from when I was in Iowa in December of 2019, to the train trip to and from the Washington, D.C. area in Dec 2019/Jan 2020 for MAGFest, as well as some work in the Champaign/Urbana area, where I’m local now.

Things on my to-do list:

Iowa/Illinois (outside of Champaign/Urbana):

  • Replace the intersections at the IA 58/Main St interchange in Cedar Falls, Iowa with a dogbone interchange also known as a “raindrop roundabout”

Prince George County, Maryland:

  • Add stops to the NH1 and NH2 bus routes. I have GPS waypoints for these

Champaign/Urbana area:

  • Extend bike lane on County Fair Drive to Prospect Avenue
  • Fix Greenbelt Bikeway near Heritage Park, which right now portrays an unbroken route and paved path in an area that has neither



  • Added maxspeed and maxspeed:source tags to IL 5/John Deere Road in Rock Island and Moline
  • Added expressway=yes tag to U.S. 63 between Waterloo and the New Hampton freeway bypass

Now that I know about the expressway and motorroad tags I’m going to be tagging roads with them. I’ll only do this for roads I’ve actually surveyed, however, and I’ll upload my GPS traces when I do as evidence I’ve actually been there. That’s a policy of mine in general, especially when editing OSM for areas outside of my local area, but as I’ve encountered edit wars on these things in the past this is an area where I like to have evidence to back up my edits should they get reversed.