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Archive for the ‘Open data’ Category

How can people help improve mapping used for CycleStreets?

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Finding out about good cycle routes – where it is safe and convenient to cycle – means availability of good maps and the knowledge of local people about their area.

We’ve created a new edition of our community mapping guide, Cycle mapping for cycle routing, freshly updated for 2014. The brochure explains how people can help improve CycleStreets and OpenStreetMap to help people find their way.

For the new 2014 edition, we’ve replaced screenshots and examples for the newer iD editor and made other updates.

You can view it and download it for free:

Cycle mapping for cycle routing

You can also browse it in magazine-style on Issuu.

Thanks to our brilliant designer friend, Ayesha Garrett, who has done the updates to the design work.

The original guide was in conjunction with Cycling Scotland, and some of the updates have been made to complement the West Sussex cycle journey planner which we run for that Council.

“CycleStreets: our story” – Green Enterprise talk, Monday 28th, Cambridge

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Green Enterprise

We’re giving a talk to Green Enterprise, in Cambridge, today (Monday 28th January 2013).

Themes covered in the talk will include:

  • Who we are
  • What we provide
  • A bit about how the journey planner works
  • OpenStreetMap and data collection
  • Volunteer data collection
  • Open-sourcing
  • Funding
  • Competition
  • Big projects
  • Challenges for the future

Do come! Full details are on the Green Enterprise website.

7.30pm-9.30pm, 28th January 2013.
Venue: Friends’ Meeting House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge.

Cambridge is only an hour from London by train, so well worth a visit.

Wordle

London Cyclist magazine features OpenStreetMap & CycleStreets

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

We’ve contributed a two-page article to London Cycling Campaign‘s London Cyclist magazine – sent to all its members – on OpenStreetMap. (Do join LCC if you cycle in London!)

The article introduces the LCC journey planner that we created for them, and talks about how it uses OpenStreetMap, a project that cyclists can contribute to.

The article also includes a box about the England Cycling Data project.

Thanks to LCC for this great publicity for OSM, and thanks to Shaun, Andy and Harry who had a look over the drafts for us!

 

Visualisations for the England Cycling Data project

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

As part of ongoing efforts for the England Cycling Data project, we’ve been keen to get visualisations done, to show the extent of the data and to show where merging needs to be done.

Shaun from ITOworld – who are experts in the collection, management, analysis and presentation of complex transport data – has been working on such visualisations.

In terms of showing already-merged data, ITO Map now contains various visualisations that show the DfT data appearing in OSM in places where merging has been done.

For example this visualisation of cycleway widths, showing Nottingham, where 84% of ways have been assessed by local mappers (great work!) :

However, to assist mappers, we are keen for visualisations which show where merging work remains to be done.

Using the raw data from the Snapshot Server (which serves the data, that is in OSM-aligned and has an OSM tag structure), Shaun has combined the data from each region into a single file, and rendered this with Mapnik. The result is a basic map showing the location of streets, roads and paths having data:

OSM-aligned DfT cycling data locations for Cambridge:

As you can see in the next screenshot, there is considerable richness in the underlying data. For instance, the section highlighted in blue shows whether the location (here: Cheapside, Central London) is lit, as well as the widths of cycle lanes, and a surface indication:

Some of the data dates back upto three years, and so the locations of streets that form the Local Cycle Networks are sometimes more comprehensive and joined up in OSM as new cycle network signage or paths have appeared.

However, in most cases, the data that is present in the DfT dataset is richer (with widths, surface, lighting information). Also, the DfT data certainly has paths that have not made it into OSM yet in some parts of the country.

1 (left) – OSM OpenCycleMap – cycle network shown in blue, and paths as red/blue dashes.
2 (right) – DfT data – showing the locations of where attributes exist.

 

The next steps will be to import the data into ITO Map, with similar visualisations to those visualisations created for comparing OS Vectormap District (Open Data) with OSM data.

Stay tuned for another update soon!

Shaun and Simon looking at the visualisation:

England Cycling Data project

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

The England Cycling Data project aims to incorporate open data on cycling infrastructure released by the UK’s Department for Transport into OpenStreetMap.

We’ve started taking account of a greater range of information about cycle routes in OpenStreetMap (the project from which our routing is created). In particular, taking account of surface quality, barriers, traffic calming, and lighting in the routing, and have been continuing to develop this.

Earlier this year the DfT made available cycling data for England collected from surveying they undertook over the last few years. This has been converted to an OpenStreetMap-compatible format so that volunteers in the OSM community in each area can merge it in. The OS Open Data -based geometry has been ‘snapped’ to OSM geometries with intelligent matching of paths, and the metadata has been converted to using the OSM tagging system. This became available in June.

The conversion work has been undertaken by CycleCity Guides, who also did the original professional surveying for the DfT. The conversion work they have undertaken has been first-rate, and we’ve been impressed by the diligence taken, and accuracy of, the conversion process. We were particularly impressed by the skills of CCG’s GIS expert, Ralph Hughes. They seemed comfortable working with OpenStreetMap data and open data more generally as part of this process. We can certainly recommend CCG if you need professional surveying or data conversion work doing.

What’s in the data?

The data, licensed under the Open Government License, includes information on:

  • The National Cycle Network (Sustrans NCN), though this is generally already in OSM
  • Local Authority routes (again much of which is in OSM already, but this is a useful comparator), which helps us route cyclists over signed routes where practicable
  • Surface quality (which helps us avoid muddy bridleways)
  • The presence of traffic calming
  • Cycle lane widths (which means that we distinguish between a useful, wide cycle lane, and one which is much less useful to cyclists)
  • Whether a path is lit

The challenge now is to merge as much of this into OpenStreetMap as possible.

Andy Allan, one of the creators of the widely-used Potlatch 2 editor for OpenStreetMap, has created a new merging tool for OpenStreetMap. This was beta-tested earlier this year, and recent discussions on the OSM talk-gb mailing list have helped us identify some further improvements that will help assist the merging process.

How to merge in the data

Merging tool screenshot

We’ve created a screencast, which you can view below. But in summary, the merging process works as follows:

  1. Go to a Potlatch2 installation that has the data loaded
  2. Click ‘Map style’ > ‘Wireframe’ to make things much easier to work with.
  3. The background data is highlighted either orange (needs attention) or blue (already processed).
  4. Click a background feature to select it.
  5. Ctrl+click (or cmd+click on a Mac keyboard) the relevant OSM feature to see a side-by-side comparison of the tags.
  6. You can now review the tags, copy whichever ones are relevant
  7. Mark the background features as complete if there’s no more information to reconcile.

It takes about a day and a half to do a city the size of Cambridge (which has a lot of cycle infrastructure). Naturally, it does require local recognition of the area, but is a satisfying process.

What’s next?

We know that trying to get large areas of England in is a big task, and it will be interesting to see how the OSM community finds this in practice. So we’d welcome any feedback on your experiences with this data.

We’ve discussed with Andy Allan the remaining fixes needed to the merging tool, and have reserved funding for this. Clearly, we want to ensure this large task is made as easy as possible.

Shaun McDonald of ITO World has been working on some visualisations which we hope to report further on soon.

We’ve secured and written some articles for various widely-circulated cycling campaign magazines/newsletters, which we hope will raise awareness of OSM and introduce people to this data, as projects they could get involved in.

CycleStreets feedback triaging/handling system

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

CycleStreets gets lots of useful feedback, both on details of routes we provide and on system features. The quality of reported route feedback bugs is generally fairly high – users tend to give enough detail to enable the problem to be investigated properly. Simple “The route was problematic here” feedbacks are very rare.

The feedback system we have is basically little changed since we added it – an HTML table of data and a webform that is hooked onto a journey display that users with a ‘feedback’ privilege can see and respond to. There isn’t a proper map based view or lots of other facilities that would be useful.

What we have learned is that feedback needs triaging. Analysis of feedback is a skilled task and can take time to result in an actual resolution.

Accordingly, we’ve found that route problems tend to have one of four main causes:

  1. Small data problems such as misconnected ways, surface quality issues, or one-way streets in the wrong direction;
  2. Absence of data in an area, meaning that the network is not sufficiently complete to enable a good route solution to be created;
  3. Engine deficiencies such as over-wiggly routes, going away from the signed network unnecessarily, or poor handling of busy roads;
  4. Mistranslation of OSM data to the format used internally by the CycleStreets routing engine.

What this shows is that we don’t want to pollute existing bug display maps with engine-related problems or feature/Photomap feedback. Furthermore, discussion with the reporting user has often been shown to improve the quality of the data repair considerably. So we have long felt that triaging feedback (and a proper means to discuss) it is essential.

Following a lot of refactoring work in recent months to improve problematic parts of the codebase, we’re proposing to develop our feedback system to enable the useful routing data within it to be available to the OSM community more widely, and have drafted a spec:

Cyclestreets feedback triaging/handling system – proposed spec

We welcome any thoughts. Our key aim is to make the data problem feedback we receive much more visible to the OSM community, so that CycleStreets and, moreover, OSM generally, sees improved data.

PS Thanks to Shaun who gave useful feedback on this last year when we first started drafting this.

Taking CycleStreets cycle routing another step further: surface quality, barriers, traffic calming, lighting

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

We’re pleased to announce a series of upgrades to the routing that have been rolled out in the last few months.

We’ve extended the range of OpenStreetMap tags that the CycleStreets routing engine uses to find cycle routes. This has helped us improve the quality of the suggested bike routes in two main ways: by handling the surface descriptions of the ways and accounting for the time delay caused by various obstacles along a route, as well as some other enhancements. This is part of an overall project (to be fully launched very soon) to help merge in some great new data from the DfT [see our blog post about the testing phase which is now completed].

The routing engine now newly takes notice, or takes more notice, of these aspects (where the data exists in OpenStreetMap) when planning journeys:

  • Surface quality (e.g. avoiding muddy bridleways)
  • All manner of hurdles (gates, bollards, barriers, kerbs) that can impede a cyclist’s journey
  • The presence of traffic calming
  • Presence on a greater range of established route (e.g. mtb)
  • Streets with a cycle lane only on one side
  • Whether a path is lit

Based on the feedback we’ve seen recently these changes are already improving the quality of routes served to users, but as ever we continue to monitor, tune and enhance the various parameters.

Surface quality has a major impact on the suitability of some routes for cycling. A few bridleways make excellent cycle tracks but the majority are usually deeply rutted a sometimes difficult even to push a bike when dismounted. Now that we are now doing more in our analysis of the tags to look at surface quality we’ve been able to significantly downgrade our default assumptions for the rideability of footpaths, tracks and bridleways. Only if they have tags that indicate good ride quality, such as tracktype=grade1 or surface=paved or surface=asphalt are they promoted to be considered cyclable as embedded in our routing sieve.

We’ve introduced the concept of ‘hurdles’ to represent the various types of obstacle found on cycle routes. Originally the only types of hurdle we recognised were traffic lights at junctions or crossings. They introduced an average delay of 20 and 5 seconds into our route calculations. Following on from our collaboration with the Department for Transport and CycleCity Guides we’ve been able to extend the coverage to more types of hurdle such as bollards, chicanes, speed humps and stiles.

In the routing system the hurdles add an average delay to routes and so routes with fewer hurdles are preferred. All the hurdles encountered are now included in the route listing pages, such as journey #2,163,046 which lists several cattle grids and a toucan crossing on just over a mile long route through Cambridge.

OpenStreetMap detail strongly encouraged

We hope these changes will encourage more mappers to add more details to OSM. These will actively improve the quality of routing we can provide to users and ‘think like a cyclist’. Every cyclist can tell of a barrier that has caused them annoyance and delay, and adding the data to OSM will help them avoid that.

A wealth of this data is now available as open data for you to merge in (manually) as this new screencast explains. A major new set of pages and an introductory blog post will follow on this shortly now that the data is available!

The OSM tags we’ve added support for are:

  • barrier=bollard
  • barrier=cattle_grid
  • barrier=cycle_barrier
  • barrier=gate
  • barrier=horse_stile
  • barrier=motorcycle_barrier
  • barrier=kerb
  • barrier=kissing_gate
  • barrier=lift_gate
  • barrier=stile
  • crossing=pelican
  • crossing=toucan
  • crossing=uncontrolled
  • crossing=zebra
  • cycleway:left=lane
  • cycleway:right=lane
  • ford=yes
  • lit=yes|automatic
  • surface=asphalt
  • surface=paved
  • tracktype=grade(1-5)
  • traffic_calming=bump
  • traffic_calming=chicane
  • traffic_calming=cushion
  • traffic_calming=hump
  • traffic_calming=table
  • traffic_calming=yes

Detecting presence on a bicycle route via these (though several were already in place):

  • (icn|ncn|rcn|lcn|mtb)=name
  • (icn|ncn|rcn|lcn|mtb)_ref=name

Or via a way’s presence on a relation that has type=route,route=bicycle.

More tags (cycle lane widths) and more detailed support to follow – stay tuned…

Talk in Cambridge: “Using Open Data and Crowdsourcing to develop CycleStreets”

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

If you’re in Cambridge on Thursday, come and hear about CycleStreets behind the scenes, organised by BCS East Anglia!

Location: Red Gate Software, 12 Cambridge Business Park, CB4 0WZ  [Cycle there – directions]

Date and time: 6:30pm – 8pm, Thursday, 26th April, 2012

The event is free, and there will an opportunity for networking before the talk, from 6.15pm.

Full details and signup at http://bcscyclestreets.eventbrite.com/ (but feel free just to turn up).

About the talk:

The arrival of web-based mapping from Google and others has revolutionised, in the space of only five years, the way many people interact with maps and map data. And the success of projects such as Wikipedia highlight how collation of small amounts of information from large numbers of people – an approach called ‘crowdsourcing’ – can challenge traditional models of data collection and ownership.

Bringing these concepts together is OpenStreetMap, a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. Well-established enterprises such as the Ordnance Survey are coming under increased pressure from this new model, and large companies such as MapQuest and Microsoft are starting to use and invest in it.

Martin Lucas-Smith, one of two main developers of the leading UK-wide cycle journey planner website,CycleStreets, will discuss OpenStreetMap, its use within a range of systems (from cartography, routing, and even its central role helping deal with the Haiti disaster), the challenges it poses to traditional forms of data collection.

He will talk about how CycleStreets works, as well the design and innovation challenges that CycleStreets as a social enterprise has faced.

Slides from the talk

Slides from the talk are now available:

UK Collision Map – a new resource for the cycle campaigning community

Friday, March 30th, 2012

We’re pleased to launch today a new resource for the cycling community: a browsable, searchable collision map with complete details of every reported road collision involving cyclists in the UK since 2005. This will also be integrated into our new campaigning toolkit being finalised, Cyclescape.

www.cyclestreets.net/collisions

Not only can you browse around the map, but you can also:

  • Select areas to get all the details of each collision in that area (see screenshot below)
  • View full details of each collision and its associated vehicles and people involved
  • Export the data to a spreadsheet
  • Drill down through the data (which will soon be linked with the geographical view)
  • Search the data

At present the map view is limited to cycle collisions (but the search interface can retrieve others).

This new facility has been possible thanks to power of Open Data – in the form of the recent release by the government of STATS19 data. STATS19 is the system used by the Police to record details of each collision and, as part of that, each vehicle and person involved. The dataset is incredibly detailed, and so we want to help campaigners make sense of it.

In our work to compile the data, we’ve gone a step further and added the drawing, export and search tools (as we had existing code to make that fairly easy to add).

You can click on any point to see a summary of key details, and then click to view the full report, each of which has a stable URL for future linking:

   

The main driver for this work has been to create a data interface (API) for Cyclescape, our campaigning toolkit, which will shortly have the ability to press a button to view collision data around the area of an issue (e.g. a poor junction) being discussed by campaigners. For the Cambridge area, this work to integrate it into Cyclescape is being funded by Cambridge Sustainable City, as part of a set of improvements that are desperately needed by Cambridge Cycling Campaign for a range of campaigns on longer lorries, huge planning applications and junction problems.

We’ve therefore created and documented an API that exposes the data. (We cannot guarantee the API will be stable until a few weeks’ time.)

Lastly – partly to help with testing – there is also a detailed search, which will shortly be integrated more fully with the geographical drawing facility.

Do let us have your feedback and let us know what you’d like to prioritise next. Stabilisation of the API will be our foremost priority in the short term.

We’ll be considering whether to take into account this data into the journey planner engine. As cycle campaigners ourselves, we know that collision data is subject to considerable under-reporting, and thus we would need a high statistical significance to use it for that purpose.

OpenStreetMap community mapping guide – for Cycling Scotland

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

We’re pleased to announce the availability of a new brochure that we’ve done for Cycling Scotland, aimed at motivating people to get mapping for OpenStreetMap.

Cycle mapping for cycle routing with OpenStreetMap – the new community mapping guide – explains how you can get involved.

Cycling Scotland is the national cycle promotion organisation for Scotland, working to establish cycling as an acceptable, attractive and practical lifestyle option. We’ve been working with Cycling Scotland to improve cycle journey planning in Scotland. The new mapping guide is part of their Community Cycle Mapping project to encourage improved cycling information in OpenStreetMap to help people get on their bikes.

(Although it’s been created primarily for use in Scotland, the principles and details in it apply elsewhere too.)

The Guide has been written by Andy Allan, who has been contracting for us on a few projects recently, with additional contributions by Martin from CycleStreets. Ayesha Garrett did the design work and has, once again, done a superb job. Thanks to both of them!

 

 

 

We welcome your feedback, especially to report bugs or give us route feedback.

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