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Adding bike lanes in the city's database but not in OSM

OSM currently has some major gaps in coverage in comparison with the city data. As a result, this challenge is mostly adding new data. Exciting!

Do I even need to do anything?

For each task in this challenge there are three potential situations:

  1. The bike lane is already well-mapped in OSM. You look at the line of the city's bike lane and there is already a bike lane in OSM that matches pretty well.

    You're done here. Either the data was already in OSM or someone beat you to the task.

  2. The bike lane is already in OSM, but it doesn't line up very well with the city's data. Look around in a 50-foot radius of the bike lane you're supposed to draw, do you see a line in OSM that follows the same street? Judging from the aerial imagery, is the OSM bike lane in the wrong place?

    If so, nudge the bike lane into the proper location using the aerial imagery and the city's data. Then check the tags in OSM (see below).

  3. The bike lane doesn't exist in OSM at all. In step 2 you checked around the city bike lane and didn't find anything.

    When this happens, draw a line that follows the portion of the bike lane that is being shown to you. Use the tagging guide below to help decide how to tag your line.

Tagging guide

We recommend reading the OSM Wiki page on bicycles, which contains a detailed list of potential bike lane scenarios and how you should tag them. The page helpfully depicts bike lane situations and lists the tags you should use for each.

Types of bike lanes

In NYC we'll commonly see four types of bike lanes:

  1. Completely separate bike lanes. Think the Hudson River Greenway on the west side of Manhattan.

    Hudson River Greenway

  2. Bike lanes that are part of a road but are separated from traffic (eg by a row of parking). Think the lanes that run along 1st and 2nd Ave in Manhattan. The city refers to these as Class I bike lanes.

    bike tracks

  3. Bike lanes that are part of a road but are only separated from traffic by a line of paint. The city refers to these as Class II bike lanes.

    bike lanes bike lanes

  4. Parts of roads that have a bicycle painted on them with arrows. These aren't separated from traffic at all and are simply gentle reminders that drivers are supposed to share the road with bicyclists. These are appropriately called shared lanes or "sharrows". The city refers to these as Class III bike lanes.

    sharrows sharrows

Mapping each bike lane type

  1. Separate bike lanes. Use highway=cycleway.
  2. Class I bike lanes. Use cycleway=track if the lane is on both sides, cycleway:left=track or cycleway:right=track otherwise.
  3. Class II bike lanes. Use cycleway=lane if on both sides, else be sure to add :left or :right (see above).
  4. Class III bike lanes. Use cycleway=shared_lane and be sure to indicate which side of the street the lane is on as necessary.

General guidelines

  • Only use highway=cycleway if the bike lane is not on a road.
  • Watch out for roads that have cycleway=lane tagged on them. It's easy to think you need to add a new line for a bike lane when it is already incorporated into a road.
  • Even when a bike lane is separated from a road, if it runs along the road it is preferred that you use segregated=yes (examples S3 and S4) rather than draw a separate line.
  • Use cycleway:left=* and cycleway:right=* for roads where bike lanes are only on one side or the other. Here "left" and "right" refer to the left and right sides of the line in OSM. This is easy to see with one-way streets, but even two-way streets should have arrows pointing in the direction of the line.
  • Be careful when editing very long lines. Sometimes a street will have one type of bike lane for a few blocks, then another type for a few blocks. Follow the street while you have it selected to ensure that you are only adding bike lanes where they actually exist. You may have to split the line.