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Bicycle Route Mapping Projects

On this page I am accumulating links to all the bicycle route mapping projects I know of. The methods and goals of some of these projects may be compatible with OpenStreetMap, and may be a source of map data suitable for OpenStreetMap. The following list is far from comprehensive. Bicyclists around the world are simultaneously and independently constructing their own maps. It would be useful to unify these various projects, perhaps under the aegis of OpenStreetMap.


  • BBBike
    • BBBike is a bicycle route planning application written in Wikipedia:Perl for Berlin and Brandenburg, Germany. (To-do: summarize my notes from my correspondence with the author, Slaven Rezic.)


United States of America


New York


  • OKI Bicycle Route Maps in PDF format for these counties in Ohio: Hamilton, Clermont, Butler, Warren.
    • OKI Bicycle Route Maps in KML format for Google Earth (Hamilton, Butler, Clermont, Warren counties): Rapidshare link.
      • Instructions: click the link to open the first download page. Two buttons will appear at the bottom of the page: "Premium" and "Free". Click on "Free." On the new page, a timer counts down from 35 seconds or more. When it ends, a graphic appears with a two or three character code. Type the code in the adjacent field and click the Download button. Save the SW_Ohio.kml file to your hard disk and open it in Google Earth.


Miscellaneous Links

Why Mapping Matters to the Bicyclist

Bicycles are slower than motor vehicles and generally cannot keep up with the flow of motor vehicle traffic. Therefore, many bicyclists tend to prefer riding where they do not have to compete directly and continuously against motor vehicles for pavement space, for example on:

  • Roads with wide curb lanes, rideable paved shoulders, or marked bicycle lanes, allowing the bicyclist to ride alongside motor traffic.
  • Roads with very light motor traffic, so the bicyclist may occupy a lane normally used by motor vehicles, where the occasional motor vehicle overtaking from behind may pass without conflict.
  • Segregated bicycle facilities. This includes bicycle paths and rail-trails, as well as sidewalk connectors and pedestrian bridges which link otherwise disconnected streets.
  • Off-road trails (for bicycles suitably equipped with wide tires).

In addition, the bicyclist may have additional preferences, such as for the smoothest available pavement, and to avoid excessively steep climbs or descents (for example steep descents with abrupt stops, crossing traffic, or dangerously sharp bends). Limited-access highways, some national or state routes, and some bridges may ban bicycles altogether. The bicyclist may also care about how the level of traffic on a road varies with time, or how the traffic on a bicycle path varies with the time and temperature (cold weather tends to reduce bicycle traffic).

Most road maps and route planning software applications cater to motorists. Routes which are optimal for motorists often do not satisfy the bicyclist's preferences. Most bicyclists prefer routes with less motor traffic, implying that the best route for the bicyclist would be a route most motorists avoid. Thus a route planning software application which works well for motorists might recommend routes that are nearly the opposite of what the bicyclist wants.

(To-do: discuss how the bicyclist's use of the secondary road network often leads to complex routes; explain how this factor combines with the distribution of speed preferences to complicate group bicycle rides. Mention the Dan Henry method of painting route marks on the road surface, the limitations of this method, and how GPX files should soon make group bicycle rides vastly easier to organize. I might also mention that I am aware of the controversy surrounding segregated bicycle facilities, but this controversy is not an issue for bicycle route mapping, as long as the route maps identify each street or path accurately. Individual bicyclists can use the maps or routing application to select the type of route they prefer.)