Add a Bike Rack to OpenStreetMap

rweait's picture

bike racks and a small bike
This tutorial for the OpenStreetMap beginner will show you how to make your first contribution to OpenStreetMap in under an hour.

Add a Bike Rack to OpenStreetMap - Using Preset Themes

You can make your first contribution to OpenStreetMap within an hour. Or even sooner if you don't stop for a leisurely coffee along the way. I say, enjoy the coffee, or your beverage of choice. OpenStreetMap is fun. You don't need to set a deadline for yourself. There are five easy steps.

  1. Inquire
  2. Inspect
  3. Observe
  4. Record
  5. Contribute

Inquire - What does OpenStreetMap know about your neighbourhood?

Cambidge Public Library shown on one of several renderings
What does OpenStreetMap know about your neighbourhood? And what doesn't OpenStreetMap know yet, that you can provide? Visit and navigate to your neighbourhood. Get right up close and take a look. Do you notice anything missing?

Inspect - What's missing from the map in your neighbourhood?

Depending on your neighbourhood you might find things large or small missing from OpenStreetMap. Large things like lakes, or major roads, or small things like the local library, street names or your favourite restaurant. You can fix all of these things but let's start with a modest accomplishment. Wasn't there a bike rack at the library?

The map tiles that we see on web sites are a subset of data from the OSM database, and not every object is shown depending on the theme of the map. Let's check in the OSM database to see if the bike rack is hidden. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to check with the OSM data layer.

the data layer is less-pretty and more-complete

  1. Click the "layer switcher" icon in the upper right corner of the map, this expands that layer menu.
  2. Check the "Data" check box to display the data layer.
  3. Look around the library for an existing bike rack. Nope. Nothing in the database yet.

But I was sure I saw a bike rack at the library.

Observe - Let's go collect data for OpenStreetMap.

bike racks

Sure enough, there is bike parking at the library. Here they are, six post and ring bike racks, just north of the east side of the library. So we know they exist. Let's put them into OpenStreetMap.

Record - Keep a notebook for your OSM data.

In this case, I'm skipping this step because I'm uploading the data to OpenStreetMap (and writing the first draft of this tutorial) while I'm still at the library. Collecting data for OSM without a notebook is only practical if you add data to OSM in small amounts or have a really good memory. It's better to record your observations so that you can contribute them later. The nicest OSM log book I have seen so far is this one.

Frank's OpenStreetMap survey notebook

This is the wonderfully detailed, and chock full, OSM survey logbook of Frank Steggink. Frank has mapped in Canada and The Netherlands and is rapidly filling this notebook with his observations as he goes. He uses a combination of GPS trackfiles, sketched maps and a legend with points of interest and details to keep an orderly, complete and detailed log of his observations. You should emulate Frank.

Contribute - Send your observations to the OSM server.

signup link for an OpenStreetMap account

If you haven't yet got an account for OpenStreetMap, sign up now using the sign up link at the top right of the map. Once you have signed up and confirmed your email address you can log in with the log in link.

the edit tab allows you to edit OpenStreetMap data from your browser

Zoom in very close to the area you wish to edit, then select the Edit tab from the tab bar. This will start the Potlatch editor in your browser. There are other OpenStreetMap editors as well.

You'll be asked if you want to Edit with Save or not. You want to Edit with Save. So click that option.

OSM data before adding the bike rack

Now you'll see your area of interest in the Potlatch editing window. In this case we see the library building and the parking lot to the north. I'll place the bike racks, as a single node, representing the collected bike parking.

place a node with Potlatch (1)

Mouse over the map to the location of the bike racks, north of the building near the east side, between the building and the parking lot. click once to place a node, then click a second time to place the point of interest.

select an object to modify it's properties

If you have created your point of interest correctly is will appear as a green dot. If it is currently selected the green dot will be surrounded by a yellow halo. If your point of interest is not currently selected, click it once. So far, the point of interest tells OpenStreetMap that something is here. Now we have to tell OpenStreetMap what the something is.

select a preset menu theme for bicyle-related presets

The presets bar is divided in to a small category icon on the left and a larger select list on the right. Clicking on the category icon selects the next category and changes the icon image. Select categories until the bicycle icon appears. The select list will tell you that you have selected no preset

apply the bike rack preset to the selected node

Now click and hold the right side of the preset tool and drag the mouse to highlight bike park then release the mouse. This selects the bicycle parking preset and fills in some default keys and values for the OSM database.

k:amenity; v:bicycle_parking
k:capacity; v: (type number)

This saves you re-typing and mis-typing common keys and values and the presets are clever enough to prompt you for common details to add to the point of interest.

add more details to the properties, where appropriate

The bicycle_parking preset prompts for a value for the capacity of the bike rack. We have placed a node for six post and ring bike racks each with a capacity of two, so I'll put 12 in for the capacity.

save your edits to share your local knowledge with the rest of the world

With our data complete, all that is left is submitting the data to OpenStreetMap. Click the Save button in the lower right corner and your data will be sent to the servers.

References and credits

This tutorial is one of a series of tutorials for OpenStreetMap beginners.

Map images and data © 2010 CCBYSA OpenStreetMap and contributors.


This article from the archives was originally published on Fri, 07/23/2010 - 20:24.