Maybe you know this situation: you started spontaneously on a tour and didn’t really prepare it. Soon you find yourself standing somewhat unoriented in the forest at a crossing and wonder where to go. The trail marker at the next tree may have helped you if you only knew where the indicated routes lead to. The new function ‘Around me’ now can give you exact the information that you are missing.

It’s use is fairly simple. When you open the page your device automatically determines your current position and shows it on a map. Then it searches for all routes that are nearby and shows them on the map. If the database contains the symbols markers they are displayed as well so you can estimate wheter a route is heading for your intended direction. Once you have spotted a promising candidate you just click on the route or symbol and you will be displayed the entire route. Now you can check if it really brings you to your target.

Important note: for data privacy reasons a web page can determine your actual position only when you explicitly consent to it. Therefore your browser will prompt you if you allow to evaluate your location. But you don’t need to worry: this location is only used to position the map correctly. Your position will never be stored anywhere nor send to a server.

If you accidentally missed to consent and now want to correct this you have to reverse your previous denial via the browser’s security settings. How to do that is depending on the browser you use and unfortunately I cannot give a general guidance. If you are in that situation please search the web and I’m positive you quickly find an answer there.

And here is how to use the function:

  • the target symbol shown in orange indicates the location your device has determined. If it doesn’t fit perfectly and you have a better guess you can simply grab and drag the symbol there. The map will automatically center at that position.
  • now the system automatically searches for any route in the visible area and displays them. You can decide if to show MTB routes, cycling routes or hiking paths by selecting the according symbols on the upper left side of the map. The active route type is always shown in violet.
  • clicking on the route or symbol will open a fullscreen info panel that shows you the entire route and further route information.
  • the “refresh” symbol on the upper left side (above the route type selection) evaluates your current location again and re-centers the map at that position.
  • you can simply change the visible area by dragging the map or zooming in and out,  as you probably know it from numerous other map applications. A scale in the lower right corner always gives you an idea of the distances.
  • when too many routes are found (e.g. if the visible area is too large) the system will display you a hint below the map. In this case you should choose a smaller extent to narrow the search result.
  • in the top right corner of the map you can choose which information is shown on the map. For example you can blend in parkings, accomodation or restaurants.

Last but not least: by default the map can be zoomed up to a scale of 100m. If you are a premium member you can zoom up to a 30 m scale. In addition you also support the operations and further development of



Many people think cycling on abandoned railways is the most relaxing. Beside some annoying details like posts and barriers on street crossings they often combine low traffic, beautiful scenery, moderate inclines and smooth routes. It’s very remarkable that more and more cycleways are constructed on these old railroads, many of them with excellent pavement.

I decided to add the option of highlighting them to the maps, so you can consider them when planning a route. Although the site is still under construction you can already review the result on the  map prototype. To do so you have to activate the “abandoned railways” layer in the layer selection control on the upper right corner.

Display of cycling routes on abandoned railways

To make the state of the abandoned railways distinguishable I have used the following line types.

Paved and hard surface (roadbike)

The way is paved or has another type of hard surface. This may include also pebblestones or cement plates. As my experience shows that you do not encounter these often on abandoned railroads I have decided not to display them differently. Such a way therefore should be fine for a roadbike ride.

Gravel and compacted surface   (gravel bike)

This way is well suited to go by gravel bike or cross bike. I wouldn’t recommend to ride it with a roadbike, unless you are the more adventurous type.

Smooth or unknown surface

This can be anything: loose surface, grass or sand. But also all tracks and paths without explicit surface information are shown like this. A mountain bike here is definitely the best choice.

Abandoned railway   (no path)

At this position there is no way or path at all. I decided to show where the original railway want anyway, as I regularly found myself investigating the gaps in the displayed routes. Maybe someone just forgot the tagging. These lines also gives you an idea how many old railways still wait to be discovered.


Using the example of  Mansfield the result is as follows:

Abandoned railroad


Tagging in OpenStreetMap

The display is based on the information from OpenStreetMap. In a previous post I have demonstrated how to view and update this information.

In general everything related to railways is tagged by the railway attribute. Railway lines, that are no longer in use, have one of the values “abandoned” or “disused”. The difference between both is that with “abandoned” the rails have already been dismounted, whereas they are still in place with “disused”.

To categorize such an abandoned railway as a cycleable way the highway  attribute needs to have a suitable value (e.g. “cycleway”, “path” or “service”). For those highway types where you cannot be sure if cycling is allowed (e.g. “footway”, “bridleway”) this has to be specified in addition via the bicycle attribute. Typically if cycling is allowed the value is  one of “yes” or “designated”.

For which bike type a way is suitable is mostly determined by the surface attribute. In general in OpenStreetMap the surface grade could be specified  even better with the smoothness attribute, e.g. as “excellent”, “good” or “bad”. As I found these information is very rare I decided not to use it to make a further distinction between surface types.