Saturday, 20 February 2010


Around here the most noticeable gaps in the OSM map are in Bracknell, and today I decided I should go and try to fill some of them. My GPX trail, and the results are shown in the map above.

There has been some discussion on the Talk-GB lists about whether the locations suggested for this summer's mapping parties are going to be attractive enough, but there are also comments that in practice it doesn't make much difference. It wouldn't be difficult to be a bit sniffy about Bracknell as a mapping destination, but to my mind that misses the point. This isn't tourism. From home it's a pleasant ten mile ride out to Bracknell through the Walthams and Shurlock Row. When I got there, the residential areas that were missing weren't anything remarkable, but they seem pleasant enough. For me though, the real pleasure is in the ride. Mapping a bit of Bracknell is as good an excuse as any to get on the bike - with the added bonus that I'm not just trundling around - there is some purpose to the exercise.

As a relatively new town Bracknell is quite good at separating cycles and cars. There's a grid of fast roads, but then the residential roads are arranged so that they can't be used as rat-runs. On top of the road network  there is a network of footpaths and cycle paths so that people walking or cycling have access to plenty of short-cuts that cars cannot use. I imagine that it all works nicely for a local who knows their way around. But when you don't know the town it's a bit difficult to navigate on a bike. In practice the cycle routes seem quite fragmented and complicated, and the through roads are fast and busy. It seems to me that this should be an ideal environment for route finding with a GPS. A GPS should be able to get me from one side of Bracknell to the other, without needing any local knowledge. But there are currently lots of gaps in the map.

Today I was on the bike, but my intent was to plot roads. I didn't want to confuse the trace of the roads with paths that are restricted. So I didn't trace all the connections that were open to bikes. As a result, anyone who uses my contribution to route-find on a bike could be taken around some unnecessarily convoluted journeys. There are probably ways that I could have done this better, and I should give it some thought. In the meantime, there are a few more miles of residential road in north-west Bracknell that weren't on the map a few hours ago - but I'm conscious that I've only contributed part of the data that needs to be added.

When I did the editing, I was reminded that although I've added the odd detail to OSM from my trips over the lest few weeks, and I've edited some content from NPE, I haven't added any significant traces since before Christmas. It's a bit of a call to action, and there are still some gaps to fill in Bracknell.


Blackadder said...

It sort of is about tourism for me really. When I cycle to an area I have never been to before its very much about the ride but also about what I see when I get there and its surprising what interesting things you find in the general suburbia and even in the less inviting industrial areas of our towns and cities. In Birmingham I've learnt a lot about our industrial past and in the suburbs I've learnt a lot about the community itself, often warts and all.

Though like you I wouldn't be having have as much fun if I didn't have the trusty bike as my mapping companion each time :-)



gom1 said...

Thanks Blackadder - good points, well made.