Open Street Map: National Cycle Network Project

One project I’m contributing to is the Open Street Map. Gradually I’ve been adding detail around my local area – the East End of London. I’ve just bought a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS receiver, to replace the one I lost a few weeks ago while out on a race. The Garmin will certainly be very useful for orienteering analysis, but it will also help with street mapping.

One project that’s caught my eye is a project to map the UK’s National Cycle Network. This network of cycle tracks and lanes throughout the country, was set up a few years ago by the Sustrans charity. Sustrans have their own GIS, but it is very slow and frustrating to use, and often out of date. The OSM project is aiming to come up with a “free” map of the network, using the power of Open Street Map and its flexibility and ease of contributing. Adding to the cycle map is simply a case of adding in the data to OSM in the normal way, then tagging the route with tags like “ncn_ref=1”.

It’s also a great way for me to justify doing some more long distance biking.

As a starter today, I noticed that National Cycle Route 1 (John o’Groats to Dover) is not marked for a short section between Hackney and Canary Wharf. I’m quite familiar with the route but I’m not 100% sure where it goes. So, I went out earlier today and biked along the section concerned, with my Garmin logging my route.

Here’s the corresponding trace. I’ve used it to add in the detail to OSM. With any luck, around a week from now, the newly tagged section of NCR 1, through London, will automagically appear on the OSM Cycle Map.


  1. Hi Ollie,
    I present The Bike Show on Resonance FM here in London. I’m very keen to do a show in early 2008 about cycling and mapping, and this issue of OSM and the National Cycle Routes is key, I think. Would you be interested in talking some more about it? Drop me an email bikeshow (at) gmail (dot) com

  2. I thought I should mention the Camden Cycling Campaign’s interactive Google Map: (or click on my name above this comment).
    It includes a lot of the London Cycle Network, some NCN and quite a few routes contributed by LCC members. We map bike parking, shops and special hazards in London as well. Our map is an open wiki-style system and we depend on users to contribute their knowledge.
    We’re in touch with Andy Allan and we aim to converge with his effort, though we think the interactivity of our map has benefits.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.