Talk:United States Bicycle Route System

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Network tag

Why don't you just use the ncn/rcn/lcn tags for these routes like in the rest of the world? Then the routes can be displayed with the current maps that show cycle routes and you don't need to setup your own renderers. Perhaps create a new tag if it's needed to have a usbrs tag. --Eimai 12:35, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

I agree, and I'm in the US. operator=AASHTO seems more appropriate to distinguish the US bike system from any other national cycle network. --Hawke 16:34, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

Now we do (use ncn routes for USBRS). Also, operator=AASHTO isn't exactly correct as AASHTO simply acts as a coordinating body to "coalesce" USBRs published by each state into the national USBRS network. If you MUST enter an operator, it would either be the state DOT or county, city or private owners of the road/cycleway segment. This can be difficult to determine for any given route segment, though the state DOT should have all of these data available as/when they make the application to AASHTO for the USBR. --Stevea (talk) 18:25, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Update: OSM now uses cycle_network=US:US as a tag on the route relation to identify USBRS routes. We use cycle_network=US to identify the quasi-national routes as distinguished from USBRs. --Stevea (talk) 00:18, 9 August 2016 (UTC)

Numbered network vs unnumbered

What is the relationship between the numbered and unnumbered networks? The Adventure Cycling Route Network appears different to the USBRS? I take it that the only difference USBRS is intended to be a signposted network, whereas the Adventure Cycling Association network is unsigned? Is there even an OpenStreetMap project for mapping the ACA network? ChrisB 21:32, 29 September 2011 (BST)

Numbered routes in the national network are USBRs. Named routes in the national network (there are currently only two, East Coast Greenway and Mississippi River Trail) are known as "quasi-national" routes, as they are not strictly part of the USBRS, but are so "national in scope" that they rise to become members of the national level of the hierarchy (as named, not numbered routes). The next level down, "regional/state" contains statewide (DOT) networks, as well as larger-scope regional routes like ACA routes (e.g. Transamerica Trail, Underground Railroad Bicycle Route...). To be clear, regional ACA routes are NOT part of the USBRS. Also, not all ACA routes (known as "private") are in OSM, as they are proprietary/commercial property of ACA. When ACA routes DO get entered into OSM, and traverse multiple states, it seems most useful to enter them state-at-a-time (network=rcn) and bundle these into a named super-relation. This is because it can happen that an ACA route might eventually get "promoted" to a USBR, through a lengthy public process involving first the state where this takes place, then as that state's DOT applies to AASHTO for the route to become a USBR. In fact, exactly this process is taking place with ACA's Transamerica Trail (TA) as it is slowly-but-surely becoming superseded by the super-relation for USBR 76 (generally westwardly, now as far west as Kansas). --Stevea (talk) 18:25, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Update: there are now THREE quasi-national routes. In addition to ECG and MRT there is now also WNEG. --Stevea (talk) 23:57, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Update: there are now FOUR quasi-national routes; we have added ISL. --Stevea (talk) 11:52, 12 November 2016 (UTC)

Link to GPX without copyright

There was a link to, which is a GPX file without any copyright information and which appears to be google-drived. I have removed it.


Some of the entries in the proposals table contain multiple paragraphs separated by line breaks (<br />). It's hard to tell where a paragraph begins and ends. Let's skip a line to create a new paragraph. – Minh Nguyễn (talk, contribs) 10:24, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) routes getting promoted from rcn to ncn or icn

Continuing from "Numbered network vs unnumbered" above, some ACA routes which are or could be entered into OSM might get promoted from rcn to ncn, or even icn if they cross an international border. To wit, six ACA routes (should they be entered into OSM) have been identified as candidates for such promotions: Underground Railroad (UGRR), Northern Tier (NT), Pacific Coast (PCBR), Transamerica Trail (TA), Atlantic Coast (AC), Southern Tier (ST). The first three might be promoted to icn, the last three to ncn (as quasi-national, quasi-private). However, these are not fully entered, nor are they guaranteed to be up-to-date AND, these are proprietary route data belonging to ACA under copyright. This makes determining what to do difficult, as ACA has stated (via Kerry Irons) that ACA management would prefer that these data not be entered into OSM, but "they realize that this is going to happen." A major concern of ACA is that OLD and OBSOLETE data will remain in OSM after entry of ACA's routes (in violation of our ODBL), but will not be corrected as ACA updates them. -- Stevea (talk) 03:21 24 January 2016 (UTC)

Additional note: it appears that GDMBR, TA west of USBR 76 at the Kansas/Colorado border (from Colorado to Oregon) and UGRR (partially) are the only ACA routes entered into OSM. The first two appear to be completely entered. GDMBR is not network=ncn nor network=rcn, which require a route=bicycle tag, rather GDMBR is tagged route=mtb, which does not get a network=* tag. TA is essentially superseded by USBR 76 east of Colorado, and is entered as statewide network=rcn relations in Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. UGRR is substantially, though only partially entered (perhaps 75%?) as statewide network=rcn relations. This is only 3 (2.75?) out of 24 ACA routes. Any or all of these ACA route data now entered into OSM might be obsolete, having been updated by ACA. Finally, it should be noted that while both the state of California and ACA "offer" slightly different routes called Pacific Coast Bicycle Route, it is intended that OSM represent the state of California version, not the ACA version, as the California version is signed on the ground whereas no ACA routes are signed. -- Stevea (talk) 23:50 16 February 2016 (UTC) and 03:48 10 August 2016 (UTC)

Recently, the Colorado-to-Oregon portion of (not-necessarily-authorized-to-enter-into-OSM by ACA) Transamerica Trail (TA) was "artificially promoted" from network=rcn to network=ncn. This was changed back to network=rcn for several reasons:

• While a good argument can be made that TA is a "national route," it truly is being subsumed by USBR 76 and so in reality 76 is the "more" national route

• OCM's rendering of purple/red boundary vividly shows where the boundaries between regional and national route exists

• Until further AASHTO approvals which the remaining four states' DOT might apply for (but haven't yet), such a distinction is important to make, respect and note with something like a level / color change

• OSM identified in 2014 the overloading of network=* hierarchies for route=bicycles in the USA needed to do this to accommodate this relationship between ACA routes and USBRs (in this particular way, following these particular assignments of routes into hierarchy levels).

These hierarchy guidelines have been further refined with the modest and controlled growth of quasi-national routes, accommodating growth in the USBRS and documenting ACA routes as expressed in OSM. This is especially true with clarification via cycle_network=US, cycle_network=US:US and cycle_network=US:ACA tags.

OSM-US, ACA (management) and AASHTO have a respectful relationship built with lots of give and take and clear understanding of rules (such as copyright as well as the more informal ones noted here that we crafted in 2014). A bold assertion by a single OSM volunteer mountain bike enthusiast to "artificially promote" from regional to national both confuses our defined semantics for wider map consumers and disrespects the understandings OSM has in place to minimize, de-emphasize and correct data which should not be in OSM (unless with explicit permission, which, for TA and indeed all ACA routes, OSM does not have). Let's continue with a non-disruptive consensus of "keeping it to 2.something, and falling" ACA routes with the understandings in place which have worked for years: keep ACA routes regional (and shrinking, unless explicit permission to enter them is granted), document the growth in the USBRS as we have and do and allow sensible growth into US quasi-national namespace, well-documented with cycle_network=* tagging. If/as ACA were to grant OSM explicit permission to enter ACA route data, OSM has identified sensible tagging strategies for them, but OSM does not have that permission today, so we must respect today's hierarchy guidelines as they now work by informed consensus. I continue to welcome Discussion on these topics here. -- Stevea 03:48 10 August 2016 (UTC)

Routes becoming directional, USBRs as GPX

Late 2017 confirmed BrowseRelation's GPX link is sensitive to the "version 1 methodology" with which many of these routes are expressed (one non-directional relation per route, with forward roles at dual carriageways, not two separate directional route relations, one in each direction). Until newer directional USBRs are completed (as of 2018-Q2 this is early work), GPX files based on wiki-downloading these routes contain noise at dual-carriageway splits. Instead of the single-relation, non-directional method by which USBRs are entered now, improvements begin: this WikiProject (going forward) strives to enter USBRs as two directional routes per state application, collected together in a super-relation. This eases GPX translation, eliminating noise now found in the GPX files that result from data entered using the original method (largely prevalent now/2018, call it v1). This conversion of existing (non-directional) routes to directional routes is ongoing. You are welcome to complete these moderate-difficulty tasks (duplicate existing non-directional USBR relation, create directionality and fix such issues in each relation, place both properly-tagged relations into a new, properly-tagged super-relation, test with BrowseRelation GPX link). (Moved to Discussion from Page) Stevea (talk) 00:54, 15 May 2018 (UTC)

There is some early work to both create new routes as "directional" (and tied together with a super-relation) as well as make it easy to click a GPX link in the BrowseRelation function of our wiki and download a nice, clean, neat GPX. We are a ways from that, as the GPX link can introduce errors at dual carriageway splits as we have created USBR relations now (up to early 2018). Going forward, better structure emerges that will allow these "one-click downloads" to proceed in a method that is easy, straightforward for downloaders (USBR GPX consumers) and either becomes automated (or automate-able) and/or a table of single-click-download-a-GPX-file tables. This might take the form of a new page/table to do this (linked here, of course) and/or changes to the existing table. It is likely that this wiki bifurcates along these lines in 2018-Q2, so now begins such a transition. Stevea (talk) 03:44, 7 May 2018 (UTC)

As a workaround solution: try JOSM, File -> Download Object... of the route (by relation number) then File -> Export to GPX... as some users report more successful GPX translation doing this (compared to the wiki's inline GPX link via BrowseRelation). These may still contain noise and yield less-than-ideal results. Stevea (talk) 23:28, 11 May 2018 (UTC)

The main Page's Approved section now links to ACA's GPX downloads via their "Ride With GPS" partnership. This is a workable solution for those who seek GPX files of USBRs, and these GPX files are directional. Stevea (talk) 16:54, 1 August 2018 (UTC)

The very latest: Additionally, since in 2018 the BrowseRelation function in our wiki markup language was modified so it no longer displays the GPX link (allowing a "noisy" download of GPX data) but now simply displays the relation number, this is much less relevant. Prior to this, noise/bad results came from OSM's wiki's BrowseRelation GPX link for non-directional routes (this broken functionality was reported as a defect). In short, USBRs in GPX format are best utilized from the curated set of these data published by ACA on their RideWithGPS site (the link on the Page). Stevea (talk) 19:38, 16 January 2019 (UTC)