Get on the map!

Our new maps are based on OpenStreetMap, and they can be improved by anyone, including you. Using Mapbox tools and OpenStreetMap data, we tailor our maps to the needs of runners, cyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts. Not only is OpenStreetMap free, but it’s easy to access and update, which is critical in our rapidly changing world. Read on to learn how to share your geographic knowledge with other athletes and the global OpenStreetMap community.

Strava athletes have helped improve the map across all continents by clicking “Improve this map” at the bottom of the map to report feedback and problems. Mapbox and the OpenStreetMap community then use that feedback to fix any issues on the map. Your feedback has benefited fellow Strava athletes and anyone else using OpenStreetMap.

But this is just the start.

OpenStreetMap is built by a community of mappers that contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafés, railway stations, and much more, all over the world. Anyone can contribute; updates are immediate, and local knowledge is essential. Follow the steps for a quick tour to get started mapping.

Getting Started

Sign up for an account on OpenStreetMap and then click on the “Edit button” to open OpenStreetMap’s editor. You’ll be greeted with a short interactive walkthrough to help you begin mapping. For starters, here are some things to remember:

  • Only map current and real things present on the ground.
  • Don’t copy data from anywhere unless you have permission.

Change a name

Once you’re in the editor, let’s update the map! For instance, businesses change from time to time. “Mike’s Bikes” is now “Pete’s Pedals” — that’s easy to fix.

  • Click the pin for the bike shop. The attribute panel will open on the left.
  • Enter the new name in the “Name” field
  • Close the attribute window and click “Save”.
  • You’ll be prompted to describe your edit, a short description like “Updated with new name” is fine. Click “Save” again.

You just updated the map!

Add a trail

If you find a new trail that’s not on the map yet, you can add it yourself following these steps.

  • Click the line tool, and trace the path of the trail. Make sure to connect it to other roads or paths it crosses.
  • While the line is selected, search for “footpath” in the attribute panel on the left and select it.
  • Now click “Save”, add a comment like “Added trail” and confirm.

Nodes, ways, and tags

Here is a little OpenStreetMap speak that is useful to know:

  • Point features like a hotel or a water fountain are nodes.
  • Line features like roads and rivers are ways.
  • Attribute data, say a name like “New Castle Road” or a property of a way like “this is a cycleway” are tags.

Add a bridge to the trail

And now let’s take it one notch up. In our example above, the trail crossed a stream. There’s a bridge at this crossing, and you’ll want to add that bridge to complete the trail.

  • Add a node where the bridge starts and where it ends. You can do this by selecting the trail, then grabbing one of the small triangle markers in the middle of a trail segment and dragging it to the start / end location of the bridge. This will create a new node on the trail.
  • Select the start node, click the scissors icon. Then select the end node, click the scissors icon.
  • Select the part of the trail that crosses the bridge, then select “Bridge” in the attribute panel.
  • Click “Save”, add a comment like “Added bridge” and confirm.

Editing directly from Strava

If you see an issue in Strava’s map, you can click through to OpenStreetMap by clicking “Improve this Map,” then “Edit Map.” This will place you directly in the OpenStreetMap web editor, ready to map.

Keep mapping

The world is one step closer to being completely mapped! Use the OpenStreetMap wiki to explore more about tags and features.

You’re welcome to get more involved and connect with mappers in your community and around the world. Many countries have local chapters that meet up, discuss mapping, and build great maps together. In the US, check the OpenStreetMap US community, or find projects around the globe.

This post was prepared by Pratik Yadav and Mikel Maron from Mapbox.

Originally published at by Paul Mach.

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