Look ma, no hands!

It’s becoming more and more widely accepted within OpenStreetMap that what we call ‘routes’ are best described with relations, instead of tagging the ways. It means that we can have two routes sharing the same stretch of road without any conflicts over numbering and so on. It’s become well established in cycle-tagging, but I’m interested to see if it works elsewhere in different contexts.

During the first May bank-holiday weekend Dave and I scratched an itch that had been bothering me for a while. There are a few long distance paths through London, and the two that I’ve frequently come across are the Capital Ring and the London Loop, but we’d made no effort to join up the bits we had spotted. We set off to find the route of the Capital Ring from Wimbledon Common to Wimbledon Park, and accidently ended up following it all the way to Woolwich on the other side of the city.

So combining both the relations contexts and the Capital Ring expedition led me to try to render them, to see if it works. And it pretty much does. Dave had been tagging some bus routes during the development of Potlatch’s relations handling code so I rendered them too. And lo and behold, other people have been doing the same here and there.

London overview (click the picture, then the all sizes link to see it in full):
bus and ldp demo

Around Earlsfield:
Capital Ring through Earlsfield

Bus routes around Wandsworth:
Wandsworth Buses

And the title of the post? Well, it’s not only that I was practising my (currently abysmal) cycling skills, it’s also what I say when I’m experimenting without having thought things through beforehand. No prizes for spotting which map I ripped off for the style sheets! Currently I don’t have any plans for making this a full service like the cycle map, which is still my main focus.

9 thoughts on “Look ma, no hands!

  1. Tom Chance

    Very nice! I’ve heard you’re looking at displaying multiple routes side by side as well, that will be very interesting for relations like bus routes.

    I’ll certainly have a look at adding walking routes to the green map we’re making of Sutton with OSM data & tools.

  2. Eimai

    What are the tags being used for the walking routes in the UK? I found nothing in the wiki about it. In Belgium and the Netherlands we’re tagging as “nwn” for long distance paths crossing the country, “rwn” for the walking node networks (yeah, we really like those node networks 🙂 ) and “lwn” for the small themed routes (usually loops of 10-15km). Basically to make it just like the cycle nodes because the routes are similar, so it makes sense if you did the same in the UK 🙂

  3. Andy

    Seems to be a wide mixture. In Germany there’s lots of use of “hiking”, in London there’s “ldp” (for long distance path) and like you say there’s other stuff in the NL. I think because nothing is rendered or used there’s no standards yet!

  4. Joel Holdsworth


    Has there been any progress lately on an open bus/public transport layer? I’ve been adding bus routes in my area, and I’d quite like a way of viewing them… it’d promote people recording them as well. Is there any move toward doing this?

    All the best

  5. Corriere

    A question: Bus routes (and tram routes as well) often have directed loops which means they hav special oneway rules on their own. Afaik there aren’t yet any tagging conventions to tackle that problem. Any ideas, tips, suggestions?

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