September 4, 2013
Meet Steve All, a software consultant and OpenStreetMap contributor whom Adventure Cycling volunteer Kerry Irons has worked with for the past several months. Kerry saw the potential for using an open-source mapping project to communicate route information both during the implementation process and after routes are designated. Once Kerry and Steve connected, good things started happening.
Steve, a California-based contributor to the OpenStreetMap (OSM) Project said, “being a volunteer in a worldwide project contributing geographic data to OpenStreetMap is both fun and rewarding. It gives me that feeling of giving back to the community that any good volunteer project does, like helping out at a soup kitchen or writing encyclopedia articles for Wikipedia. And, the resulting maps look great!"
Together with Kerry, Steve cleaned up OSM's data representations of both the U.S. Bike Routes and other "quasi-national" bicycle routes, like the East Coast Greenway and Mississippi River Trail. Now OSM displays an up-to-date and valid representation of the U.S. Bike Routes for both actual and proposed routes. "You might say that Kerry spoke the semantics of where routes really ought to be on the map, and I played syntax on keyboards" says Steve. This "conversation" speaks to thousands of miles of bicycle routes found in the nascent and growing U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS). "Kerry really has a finger on the pulse of statewide activity on the USBRS and his patience and resourcefulness allowed our efforts to become accurate results in OpenStreetMap."
Kerry and Steve exchanged dozens of emails to better understand where national bike routes actually were and weren't on the map. A number of routes not yet established were in OSM where they shouldn't be, leading to confusion among mappers, consumers of OSM map data, and even statewide USBRS coordinators. Recently, OSM's map creators caught up with the flurry of edits, and the results look great. "It's neat to see the eastern part of the USA and Alaska blossoming with accurate and connected national bicycle routes" says Steve.
The maps can be viewed in seperate layers that include both designated and proposed routes and are a great tool for those who would like to start initial research towards proposed route implementation.
The next step to aid those wishing to use OSM was to update OSM's wiki documentation: a history of the USBRS, a how-to guide to help OSM contributors understand how USBRs fit into OSM's bicycle routing hierarchy, and an up-to-date status report of ongoing route proposal activity in OSM. Dashed red lines in OSM showing proposed national routes can help states coordinate their efforts to gain routing consensus before an AASHTO application for a new USBR. The wide and democratic availability of OSM makes statewide efforts in national bike route coordination something more people can both see and get involved with as the proposed routes under discussion are readily visible.
Thanks to Kerry and Steve paving the way for this project. OpenStreetMap will continue to communicate progress and growth in the USBRS. With the aid of USBRS volunteers and OSM contributors, this resource will close the loop for communicating route information to decision makers and the general public. And thanks to its wiki-based pages and map rendering updates, OSM can to do so in nearly real-time, as state DOTs, stakeholders and the public work together to develop new routes.
Map courtesy of OpenStreetMap
BUILDING THE U.S. BICYCLE ROUTE SYSTEM is posted by the Travel Initiatives Department and focuses on news related to the emerging U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS). The USBRS project is a collaborative effort, spearheaded by a task force under the auspices of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Members of the task force include officials and staff from state DOTs, the Federal Highway Administration, and nonprofits like the East Coast Greenway Alliance and Mississippi River Trail, Inc.