Mapper since: October 23, 2007

Who am I?

  • I am a person in the south of England
  • I mostly ride a bicycle, walk, catch buses and trains
  • I’m a Committee Member of Cycle Basingstoke - we have been working with the Council on the Basingstoke Cycling Strategy - and OSM is useful to illustrate points (not least because it is more up-to-date than closed maps)

What do I use OSM for?

Map things that I’m interested in


  • Speed limits
  • Type of road
  • Number of lanes
  • surface=asphalt/concrete/compacted/gravel/dirt/sand/mud and tracktype (if not paved)
  • lit=yes/no
  • Ensuring that restrictions that actually apply only to one class of vehicle (e.g. motor vehicles) are not applied to all
  • Ensuring that private routes are tagged accordingly, so journey planners don’t use them
  • On-road cycling facilities and bus lanes
  • Roundabouts, oneway streets, dual carriageways - tend to have negative effects on my journeys
  • Names
  • Traffic calming

Footpaths, Rights of way, and ORPAs

  • surface=asphalt/concrete/compacted/gravel/dirt/sand/mud and tracktype (for PROWs)
  • lit=yes/no
  • Who is allowed to use it (if it’s a right of way)
  • For footpaths where journey planners assume that dismounted bicycles can be pushed, mark impassable paths (e.g. ones with stiles, narrow kissing gates, or just too narrow) with bicycle=no to prevent routing
  • Barriers, such as gates, bollards, cycle barriers, that slow down cyclists


  • NCN, RCN, LCN - CycleStreets (at least) uses these
  • MTB - if something is part of an MTB relation, it’s probably not good for my bike
  • Bus routes and stops

Points of interest and landmarks

  • Farms, churches, and woods make good landmarks in the countryside, or to describe places to other people
  • Cafes, pubs, supermarkets, and stations are either destinations or landmarks
  • Benches and toilets


  • Developments (residential or commercial) affect routing and traffic flow

Surveying equipment

  • OnePlus 7 Pro and the OSMTracker app
  • Usually from a bicycle, a bus, or on foot
  • I got a cheap handlebar bag recently, so that should make it easier to make notes as I go
  • Mapillary, either directly from my phone, or by converting the videos from my helmet camera



  • I avoid combining building/landuse/natural areas and linear barriers with routable highways - e.g. unless a fence actually reaches the centre-line of the road, I end it at the edge of the road. An exception is tunnel=building_passage, where the tunnel is effectively part of the building
  • I treat highways (which are recorded as 1D lines despite being 2D areas in reality) as representing the centre line of the road
  • For PROWs, I use the physical highway type (e.g. track), rather than the legal one. As a result, I then use multiple *=private to exclude certain types of traffic
  • For PROWs, I record the legal rights of way for foot, bicycle, horse, motor_vehicle (since journey planners do not generally use the designation tag)
  • For public highways that are not PROWs, if the access matches the default for that highway type, I don’t record the access
  • For Public Bridleways, I use the UK Tagging Guidelines (bicycle=yes, horse=designated, foot=designated)
  • Where an amenity (e.g. pub, shop, café, bed & breakfast) is the main occupant of a building (or a floor of that building) I tend to add the amenity tags to the building rather than having a separate disconnected node

Cycing infrastructure

  • For off-road cycle paths and cycle tracks, I generally aim for the following, which will allow bicycles and pedestrians to be routed along it: highway=cycleway/path (path for narrow paths or towpaths), bicycle=yes, foot=yes (unless it’s a cycle track with no pedestrian access), segregated=no/yes, surface=asphalt/concrete/compacted/gravel/dirt/sand/mud, lit
  • For on-road stuff, I add cycleway=shared_lane/track/share_busway (or cycleway:left/right). For contraflow cycle routes, I add oneway:bicycle=no as well as the type of cycleway.
  • In both cases, cycleway:est_width is important, to indicate patgs that are too narrow (eg between Ottershaw and Woking - less than a metre wide fir a two-way shared use footway)


  • I tend to tag traffic lights on the stop lines with traffic_signals:direction=forward/backward, and pelican/toucan/Pegasus crossings at the crossing point, rather than merging everything into one node
  • Crossings slow down traffic along a highway, but help pedestrian (and bicycle if relevant) traffic across the highway
  • Where the crossings are not simple (e.g. around roundabouts or dual carriageways), I add the footways for more accurate routing
  • I tend to end footways at dropped kerbs if possible (to cater for people with pushchairs, wheelchairs, luggage, etc.)