Mapping sidewalks in New York City and Washington D.C

Hi all,

The Maps team at Meta and I have been mapping sidewalks in some US cities alongside our community partners. We use OSM for many things including pedestrian routing and we noticed significant gaps in the data, even in major US cities such as New York City and Washington D.C.

We have set up projects in a tasking manager that focus on mapping sidewalks and crosswalks as separate ways. The project areas correspond to the areas that need data the most. If the US community can rally together, we can make significant progress mapping pedestrian infrastructure in both of these cities. We will then look at other US cities where we can have a big impact.

Our projects:

  1. New York City
  2. Washington D.C.

Thanks for your interest and our lines are open if you have feedback or questions. You can also see our organized editing wiki page where we outline our motivations and other projects we have created.

Happy mapping.

Ed & Meta’s Mapping team

I in principle support efforts to add pedestrian infrastructure to OSM. However, I’d like some more clarity on what exactly your process is. Your wiki page and the linked task page don’t really describe what mappers are instructed to do, what guidance or resources they are expected to be using (typical OSM aerials, streetlevel imagery, Meta’s proprietary data, on-the-ground survey?), or how they choose which areas to map. Can you clarify? Is AI involved, and if so, how? Are these edits validated, and if so by whom?

Moreover, from randomly selecting a few changesets from the linked OSMCha page on the task page, I’ve noticed a few issues that it would be nice to address.

First of all, all the changesets have the identical comment “mapwithai-tm4-149 #nycwalkabout”, which does not describe what changes were made. More informative changeset comments would be more useful to the community.

Second, I noticed a couple of tagging choices that prompted my wondering about what methods you’re using:
-There are a few crossings that have been tagged as crossing=uncontrolled that appear from streetlevel imagery and nearby tags to be signalized, such as Way: 1228119461 | OpenStreetMap and Way: 1228095939 | OpenStreetMap. I would’ve expected crossing=traffic_signals, or perhaps use of crossing:signals=yes. Was this a purposeful choice? Are the users instructed in any way how to choose between different crossing=* values?
-There are a few where the node tagging does not match the way tagging, like Node: 8905543599 | OpenStreetMap
-In some cases, an existing node was modified to make a semi-colon delimited crossing= tag, which seems unnecessary Node: 8322969742 | OpenStreetMap. Is there a procedure for treating existing nodes?

If it were an individual mapper making these sorts of edits I probably wouldn’t even comment, but since it’s part of an organized editing campaign it seems worthwhile to ask what instructions you’re giving and how you’re making sure the edits are correct.


Unfortunately, the instructions are only visible after logging in to the tasking manager: allow read only access to view list of performed edits, area of edits, who can be contacted about OEG edit · Issue #6147 · hotosm/tasking-manager · GitHub
It would be great for this to be changed so mappers who aren’t interested in creating a tasking manager account can at least read what others are being instructed to do. Since that is unlikely to happen in the short term, it would be much appreciated if instructions could be copied to the wiki page where everyone can read them.

I created an account and the instructions look reasonable to me. One suggestion: instruct mappers to add sidewalk=separate to the main road way wherever sidewalks are mapped separately and sidewalk=no wherever they have confirmed that sidewalks are not present. I didn’t see a mention of this in the current instructions.


This is excellent feedback. Thanks for taking the time to dig in and review some of the recent edits.

Noted for future training/editing:

  1. More informative changeset comments.
  2. I suspect you’re seeing a lot of crossing=uncontrolled because that is the default tag that populates in both Rapid and iD editor when you select the marked crossing preset. I wonder if this is worth changing. crossing=traffic_signals is definitely our preference when their existence can be confirmed.

We have been working with local mappers in each area and asking which aerial layers they prefer. Our training also includes Mapillary and other street-level imagery. This aspect has been essential for crossings and sidewalks obstructed by buildings.

I really appreciate the input, thanks again!

Good call.
I will start copying across our instructions to the wiki. We’re trying to follow existing conventions which is why I didn’t add them originally, but I can see the value in documenting which standards we’re encouraging people to follow.

It sounds like some more background on what mappers are instructed to do is also helpful.

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I got around to updating the wiki. Thanks again for the helpful feedback. We’ll continue to update this as we go.

Regarding inconsistent tags between crossing ways and nodes, we’re running checks on this and generating MapRoulette challenges to address them in major US cities. These challenges are listed on the wiki.

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