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About our maps

Our maps are made using open data from OpenStreetMap, licensed under the Open Database Licence; with additional UK data from Ordnance Survey, licensed under the Open Government Licence (© Crown copyright and database right 2016), and additional Canadian data from StatCan (Geography Division, Statistics Canada). UK traffic data is from the Department for Transport under the Open Government Licence. Additional US data from federal sources.

Help improve these maps!

OpenStreetMap is made by people like you. If a cycle path, road, pub or café is missing, just head in and add it. It’ll then be available to thousands of other cyclists using cycle.travel, OpenCycleMap, CycleStreets, Sustrans’ printed maps and many other projects: we all take the same data and add our own spin to it.

Here at cycle.travel we’ve supported OpenStreetMap since its first months back in 2004; we’ve mapped countless miles of cycle routes and contributed a lot of the code that’s been used in the project over the years.

How cycle.travel uses OSM data

We aim to take updates from OpenStreetMap every month: it then takes around three days to do all the calculations to find the best routes. Here’s the date on which we last updated the data.

We do a lot of processing work to make the raw OSM map as useful as possible for cyclists. If you’re editing OSM, here are some of the things to keep in mind:

We also use Ordnance Survey data for UK built-up areas, Corine data for European built-up areas, and government open data for North America. We use both Ordnance Survey and NASA data for elevation.

If you find something missing or misleading in our maps and directions, head over to OpenStreetMap to fix it. But if OSM’s right, and cycle.travel isn’t doing what you’d expect with the data, we want to know. Post in the cycle.travel site forum and let us know what you think.

Frequently asked questions

How do I get a route onto my GPS?

Once you’ve planned a route, click the GPS button on the left to download it. There are lots of different formats of GPS file: we generally recommend a ‘GPX track’ which works on pretty much anything, but if you have a newer Garmin or Wahoo, you might want to choose a ‘TCX course’.

For a Garmin, you then need to connect your unit to the computer via USB, and copy the file across to the ‘NewFiles’ folder (cycling Garmin units: instructions) or the ‘GPX’ folder (eTrex units: instructions).

We don’t have any experience with Wahoo GPS units, but we’re told you can email the file to your phone, click ‘Open in…’ to open it in the Wahoo app, and then it’ll appear on your GPS. If you have any experience getting this running, let us know!

How do I get a route onto my phone?

We’re working on a cycle.travel app for your phone, but until then…

You’ll need to install an app that can open GPX files. There are many, but try:

Then back in cycle.travel, plan your route (and save it) and click the GPS button. This is under the ‘Share’ option at the bottom of the map screen on your phone. Alternatively, if you don’t see a ‘Share’ option, click the three-line button on the left of the map and the GPS button is there.

Click ‘Download’, and the route will be downloaded to your phone. It should open automatically in your app – you may need to click ‘Open in MapOut’ or something similar.

Are there any options to avoid certain types of road?

Unfortunately not. cycle.travel’s route-planner works by pre-calculating all the best routes for cycling. This means that it can be blisteringly fast – even when calculating a 1,000-mile route – and that you can drag the routes in real time.

The downside is that, because everything’s pre-calculated, you can’t change the weightings (preferences) for each type of road when you ask for a route. In theory we could pre-calculate a second set of weightings such as a “no off-road” planner, but since the routing data is very memory-hungry (32GB RAM for Western Europe and North America), we’d need to rent a new high-speed server for each set – which would get very expensive very quickly...

Our priority is to make cycle.travel’s default routes as good as they can be, while making it easy for you to adjust the route (by dragging) if there are sections you want to avoid. Alternatively, you can turn the route-planner off between any two points, by clicking the first of the points and choosing ‘Go direct’ to the next one. This means you can plan a short stretch on a busy road even if cycle.travel doesn’t recommend it.

(If you want to read up on the maths behind cycle.travel’s super-fast routing algorithm, it’s known as Contraction Hierarchies.)

Does cycle.travel have a mobile app?

We’re developing an iPhone app at the moment and plan for it to be available in late 2018/2019, with Android to follow afterwards.

Does cycle.travel have an API?

Not officially. Our hardware is dedicated to serving visitors to cycle.travel. Our (significant) costs are covered by advertising and the commission from hotel bookings, so we can only provide the maps and routing on this site. If you do really want to use our mapping and routing, drop us a line and we can chat.

If you’re looking for custom development work on cycle routing or cartography, our editor Richard Fairhurst would be delighted to talk to you. If you are looking for an off-the-shelf UK cycle routing API, we recommend you talk to the lovely people at CycleStreets. If you are looking for map tiles, talk to the equally nice people at Thunderforest.