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Thread: Mapping of MTB trails on OpenStreetmap

  1. #1
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    Default Mapping of MTB trails on OpenStreetmap

    Hi there.

    Im new to this forum but not new to NEMBA or mountain biking.

    Id like to get a discussion started on MTB trail mapping using OpenStreetmap (OSM). In our last chapter meeting (Wachuessett) I learned that OSM mapping was discussed at the recent MTB summit. It would be great if someone can point me to relevant slide material.

    But even without seeing that presentation there are a few things that Id like to discuss with the greater MTB community since I and others have been mapping our local trails in OSM. Are there are any existing guidelines that we should follow for mapping MTB trails. One obvious one is to keep illegal trails off the map. While there are MTB related tags in OSM, none of the popular OSM rendering services (like HikeCycle for example) use these tags.

    In trail systems local to me it appears that contributors have adopted the convention of marking purpose built MTB trails as cyclepaths. That results in them being rendered as dashed blue lines on OSM. I actually like that, since it quickly highlights MTB singletracks on the map. But it does stand in conflict with the general OSM policy where any trail that allows bicycles should be listed as bicycles-permitted.

    Kai

  2. #2
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    Mar 2012
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    I sat in on a session at the Summit. The lecturer was Lars. Don't remember his last name. He seemed VERY well versed on the subject and made the amazing look simple. I think he was from Greater Boston or just south. Try hitting someone from the area up. He seemed to want to help others.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2014
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    Thanks. I'm asking around as well and hopefully the presentation material will be posted to the web at some point.

    Kai

  4. #4
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    Just saw this tonight and thought it might be of some interest

    https://www.mapbox.com/blog/outdoors-design/

  5. #5
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    May 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harry123 View Post
    I sat in on a session at the Summit. The lecturer was Lars. Don't remember his last name. He seemed VERY well versed on the subject and made the amazing look simple. I think he was from Greater Boston or just south. Try hitting someone from the area up. He seemed to want to help others.
    Lars here!

    Sorry for not responding sooner - I completely missed this thread.

    Yeah, I've personally found OpenStreetMap to be a great tool for mapping (and sharing) trails. Especially with the recent improvements on the editing side, like the new great in-browser editor (which has a great tutorial if you want to try it), adding new trails to the map is easy enough that anyone can help out.

    The other great side of OSM, of course, is that the data is open. That means that if we're not happy with any of the default map styles on osm.org (try Cycle Map), it is entirely possible to create our own maps from the data.

    For example, here's a super-simple trail map of Ames Nowell state park in Abington MA, in nice-for-print PDF format, from OSM data (plus some contours from MassGIS):
    http://osm.ahlzen.com:4/trailmaps/pdf/AmesNowell.pdf

    It's equally easy to do online "slippy" maps. Here's a prototype map of MA with trails highlighted that I threw together recently:

    http://osm.ahlzen.com:4/trailmaps/tr....21&lon=-71.08

    (please don't link to these examples elsewhere - they are prototypes and will almost certainly change or disappear).

    Someone also reverse-engineered the Garmin GPS data format, so I use OSM as the basemap on my handlebar mount GPS unit. Having all the trails right there is pretty convenient.

    By the way, there's a pretty comprehensive page about how to map and tag mountain biking related features, including access, difficulty, surface etc on the OpenStreetMap Wiki:

    http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Mountain_biking

    As for the OP's question about guidelines, that may to some degree up to the local chapters (and other map contributors). The general principle in OSM, however, is to map what's on the ground and tag it appropriately. As for the example of illegal trails, typically these would be mapped and tagged with "no access". But, as usual, common sense goes a long way.

    I didn't have much in terms of slides at the summit - mostly a hands-on demo - but I'm more than happy to help anyone get started with OSM. Feel free to ask me any questions here or contact me privately (lars@ahlzen.com) and I'll do what I can. Also, if anyone is interested, I'd be happy hosting an OSM workshop at a local chapter -- that can be a good way to get started and try it in practice.

    For those who live in the Greater Boston area, there's an OSM meetup group where we organize various events - most of which require little or no prior OSM experience. There are similar groups in many other areas as well.

    http://www.meetup.com/OpenStreetMap-Boston/

    - Lars

  6. #6
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    Apr 2014
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    Lars,

    Thanks for finding this and replying.

    It's ok to leave mapping guidelines to the local groups that add OSM trails. I just wanted to ask if there has been any MTB related effort in unifying our OSM mapping approaches. As for using something that renders OSM data better for MTB use, someone would have to step up to the plate and run a tile server for that. For now I think HikeCycle is good enough.

    Since I wrote the OP there has been a game changer: Strava released its global heatmap. There is even an OSM editor that uses that heatmap data and, just yesterday, I got AlpineQuest to support that heatmap as a map overlay. AlpineQuest is an Android outdoor mapping app. It's only a matter of time until someone gets that heatmap into a Garmin format.

    The link for the slippy map is not working for me right now. I'll have to try it again later.

    Thanks,
    Kai

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by ktroester View Post
    As for using something that renders OSM data better for MTB use, someone would have to step up to the plate and run a tile server for that. For now I think HikeCycle is good enough.
    Agreed. I don't think there's a whole lot of effort to unify our OSM mapping (yet), but that's no reason not to start it.

    Setting up a tile server is not particularly difficult or expensive (I've done it several times). Given how much more useful a map we could render, I think it would be worth the effort. Anyone interested in helping out?

    Quote Originally Posted by ktroester View Post
    The link for the slippy map is not working for me right now. I'll have to try it again later.
    It's running from my home so it may be slow, but it should be up pretty much 24/7. Give it a try again. Otherwise, here's an example screenshot of my quick-and-dirty rendering style (near Duxbury Town Forest):

    duxbury.jpg

    http://osm.ahlzen.com:4/trailmaps/ma...on=-70.71&z=15

    Quote Originally Posted by ktroester View Post
    Since I wrote the OP there has been a game changer: Strava released its global heatmap. There is even an OSM editor that uses that heatmap data and, just yesterday, I got AlpineQuest to support that heatmap as a map overlay. AlpineQuest is an Android outdoor mapping app. It's only a matter of time until someone gets that heatmap into a Garmin format.
    Yep, that's very cool. As far as I know, Strava is also in the process of switching a lot of things over to OSM. A guy from Strava gave a very interesting presentation of using their heatmap for automated trail mapping in OSM at the recent OpenStreetMap conference in DC.

    - Lars

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