Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => GPS & Digital Data Discussion => Topic started by: Ailish on September 30, 2011, 06:07:10 pm

Title: Open Street Map?
Post by: Ailish on September 30, 2011, 06:07:10 pm
In reviewing this forum, one of the things that has surprised me is how little mention OpenStreetMap ( gets.  For those not familiar with it, it's an open map that can be edited and used by anyone.  On the web, it's like the other mapping sites, except you can say "Wait, that's wrong," and then fix it on the spot.

In GPS applications seem to have three advantages over manufacturer's maps.  Firstly, it's free, so if you're buying a cheap GPS, you don't end up paying a significant percentage more to get usable maps.  Secondly, it updates all the time.  You can notice an error on your GPS one day, edit in a fix on the site, and have a corrected, routable map on your GPS the next day.  Thirdly, there are many ways to massage the data, and there are at least a few bicycle specific treatments of the data, that optimize the maps and the routings for bikes (optionally giving preference to bikeways or tertiary roads).

While this may work with other GPS units, the focus of my reading and experimenting has been on Garmin units, which most here seem to use, as well.  The easiest way to play with OpenStreetMap maps on a Garmin (or the Garmin software on your computer) is to pull a section of the Lambertus maps (, where you select the region you want maps for on their site, and they'll mail you a link to the downloads.  These maps seem optimized for car routing, making them an analogue to the City Navigator maps.  There are a couple cycle specific versions, including Cyclemap and VeloMaps, but those require rather more effort to build on your own.  I've just gotten a mostly working build for the Northeastern US using the VeloMaps encoding, and it mostly seems pretty neat, though some of the routings are a bit unexpected.

Have others played around with this?  Are the pitfalls to these maps that I haven't hit yet?  It seems the more cyclists we get using these, the better the data will get.

Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: mdxix on March 31, 2012, 09:27:22 pm
I downloaded the US map last night on my Edge 705 and have been experimenting with it all of today. So far so good. It took three simple steps:

In general, to be safe, I use the GPX Track option from ( (\garmin\gpx folder), and save the TCX course file as backup (\garmin\courses folder). Both options contain breadcrumbs of the mapped route. This is safer for two reasons:

The following web site allows for building custom images from selected map sections: (

Plenty of instructions are at (

I am still experimenting with maps and languages outside the US. I loaded Japan's map and tested a few routes:

I found an old discussion on this forum circa 2008 at (

There is an active discussion on this topic at (

I will post more results as I learn more. Pleas share your experience as well.
Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: mdxix on June 01, 2012, 11:33:18 pm
I have been testing the Open Source Map (OSM) on my Edge 705 for the past two months. I used it on the bicycle and in the car, in the United States and Canada.

For my most frequent use of the GPS, the map worked as expected:
More details are in following posts to keep topics separate.

Meanwhile, I would at least try to use OSM in the following cases:
Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: mdxix on June 01, 2012, 11:44:18 pm
Navigation worked exactly the same on both sets of maps: City Navigator North America & OSM.

Note the images below of navigation sequence for each map. They each contain:

The only difference between the two are the labels for roads, such as "Ridgewood Rd" versus "Ridgeweed Road", and "East St" versus "East Street (217)".

The first set of images below is for City Navigator North America:

The second set is for OSM:
Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: mdxix on June 02, 2012, 12:06:54 am
Note in the previous post how the distance of the route in the two maps is calculated slightly differently. I am not sure exactly why. I think it is because they are two different maps. Roads on them are charted differently causing the discrepancy.

There is another reason. I used Google Maps on to create route. The waypoints from that route do not match exactly those on the GPS unit. Take a look at the sticky topic Using Adventure Cycling GPS Data (, under the title Variations among maps.

Especially in this case, the waypoints and track points were off in some cases when using OSM.

Note in the image below:


I found this misalignment to occur about once on most routes. But it is very easy to recognize.
Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: mdxix on June 02, 2012, 12:16:07 am
I was not able to navigate to addresses in the United States and Canada using OSM.

OSM does not seem to recognize states. It shows data at the country level. I suppose this may work in other countries, where city names are indeed unique in the entire country. Alas, that is not the case in the US.

Below are two sets of images. The first set is when entering an address in City Navigator:

The second is in OSM:

Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: Ailish on August 11, 2013, 03:21:33 pm
I noticed lately that the Lambertus OSM site ( (which builds custom OSM maps for installation on Garmin GPS tools) has added an option for "routable bicycle," using the OpenFietsMap Lite encoding.  I grabbed that, last night and have done some limited playing with it.

The first thing to make clear is that this is NOT a general purpose routable map, as it's specifically tuned for bicycling, and should not be used for automotive routing.  (The best bicycle routes come when you tell this to use automotive routings.)  Routing for faster time favours cycle tracks, while routing shorter distance takes you on cycle friendly (ish) roads if cycle specific options are out of the way.  This carries over in other ways, in that a POI search for the "automotive service" will return nearby bike shops.  Searching by address seems to work fine on my Dakota 20.  Initial tests looks good, at least where the OSM data are good.  But again, when I find problems with the OSM data, I can apply a fix, directly.

This encoding seems to be similar to that described by the Velomaps site, too.  I've built OSM data using the Velomaps encoding (started before he started offering any options for North America), but that's slow and kludgy compared to getting this OpenFietsMap encoding, and in my limited testing, the OFM encoding seems to be working better.
Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: Steve All on September 11, 2013, 01:53:00 am

If you haven't seen this yet, take a look!
Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: BikingBrian on December 07, 2013, 02:55:26 pm
Download the map image in compressed format from ( The file ( that I downloaded on 30 March 2012 was 2.47GB.[/li][/list]


The following web site allows for building custom images from selected map sections: (

I am using an Edge 800 and I've downloaded the Openfietsmap Lite (bicycle routable) Open Street maps from the second link above. They seem to be working well, but I haven't tried them outside of the area where I live. So would there be any benefit to also downloading the US map at the first link above?
Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: Steve All on December 07, 2013, 04:28:22 pm
The best way to know is to take a look at "the area you are interested in" using OSM itself: (zoom and pan the map to where you want).

Select different layers by clicking the Layer button in the upper right (looks like a stack of papers); there are five layers now:
Standard (which more-or-less what you'll get with either the maps or the, though there may be minor differences),
Cycle Map (the Open Cycle Map layer for bicycle-specific routes and amenities),
Transport Map (shows rail, tram and bus routes -- IF these have been entered into the underlying OSM layer -- very spotty in the USA but better in Europe),
MapQuest Open (a version of Mapquest using OSM data which has excellent highway shield rendering, among other pretty features; good for automobile navigation) and
Humanitarian (used when a disaster like an earthquake or hurricane strikes an area and used for "HOT" mapping by emergency NGOs and other activists who want to help).

If you have a 512 MB to 4 GB microSD card and are interested in quite up-to-date Garmin-ready maps based on OSM data, I recommend a version of the .nl data at .  What you'll do there is choose a map based on longitude (again, in the USA only), your card size, and whether you want to download via browser or BitTorrent (recommended because it helps distribute the bandwidth load).  If you have a 4 GB or larger card, just go ahead and grab either the 4000MB .img file or the 4000MB .torrent file (if the latter, fire up your BitTorrent client to get it).  After that, rename it "gmapsupp.img" and put in in a folder called "Garmin" at the root level of the card, snap it into your Garmin device and there you go:  OSM maps on your Garmin GPS.  These are updated about every two to three weeks, so, y'all come back now, y'hear?  (OSM maps just keep getting better and better over time).
Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: jrswenberger on December 09, 2013, 12:26:09 pm
Steve, I like this option very much. I've used a variety of Garmin handhelds over the years and I'm getting ready for a multi-month tour through Europe, Central Asia and SE Asia.

Do you have a recommendation for a newer Garmin unit that will accept a >4GB microSD card? I'll be selling the 2 units I have just to finance this purchase.

Enjoy the ride,
Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: Steve All on December 09, 2013, 02:46:55 pm
There are several which might be suitable for you, depending on other features and the "speed of your wallet."  I'm no Garmin spokesman, but the Edge series (especially the Touring Plus -- which I believe comes pre-loaded with OSM's bicycle map data!) might suit you, but so might also the Oregon or the Vector series.  Check out the "Shop" tab at Garmin's site ( and do some feature comparisons.  Unfortunately, it is hard to tell from the site how big a microSD card is handled, but the newer ones not only are rumored to hold cards larger than 4 GB, but they allow multiple gmapsupp.img files, allowing you to select one (map file) from among many on a single card, using a menu on the device's User Interface.  (Alas, my trusty but seven-year-old Garmin 60Csx only allows only one at a time, necessitating a card swap if I want a different map on a different chip/card).

Before you go, I do recommend using OSM to visually examine those areas where you will travel, to see how well OSM volunteers have improved the map there (or not).  Good luck and enjoy your trip!
Title: Re: Open Street Map?
Post by: Maciej on July 06, 2017, 06:34:47 am
Hi, the topic was last discussed in 2013. In digital era this means we might be in a different dimention now with GPS devices and OSM features.

My question is: has OSM improved navigate to the address feature?

I am starting my adventure with GPS Oregon 450 and OSM. So far, I noticed that the maps are quite detailed (enough for me neighbourhood) but it is still difficult to enter a certain address and just start navigating.

Did I miss some of the instructions?