Bike Calgary's picture

Ride the City Calgary Routing

Bike Calgary's Infrastructure Task Force has been working with Ride the City to roll out a version of their bike routing service for Calgary.  Originally servicing NYC, Ride the City is now offered in over 3 dozen cities worldwide.  It has some unique features that make it a useful alternative to other services.

  • It does bicycle-specific routing/directions, and, most importantly, you can select the route based on safety (three settings: direct, safe, safer)
  • It lets you save routes and points of interest.
  • It has widgets for businesses to add cycling directions to their store, and displays bike shops on the map
  • You can easily email routes
  • It has apps for both iPhone and Android (cost: USD 2.00)
  • Ride the City uses Open Street Map (OSM), the wikipedia of the mapping world: it is freely available, and anyone can edit it.

Ride the City Calgary is now officially available for use.  There are still places where it could improve, of course. To make Ride the City work better in Calgary, we're asking for your help. It's easy and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

With the exception of a few outlying communities, both street and pathway network are substantially complete in OSM Calgary, but there are still many missing links: places where a pathway crosses a street, for instance, but doesn't intersect it; pedestrian overpasses that are important links in the cycling network, but some aren't designated as "cycling allowed"; missing short pathway or sidewalk segments that link important routes.  Also, streets that the City designates as a bike route (displayed in blue in the City's Pathways and Bikeways map) should be tagged as "designated for cycling". In some neighborhoods, not all streets have names, and some new developments have yet to be added to OSM.

Here's how to help:

  1. Go to and try it out on areas and routes you know well. Does it get them right?
  2. If not, perhaps OSM is missing a critical piece of information. Inspect the map in RtC to see if there are links missing. If there are, add them.  Sometimes, the links are there, but OSM knows them only as footpaths--you can edit them in OSM as well so that RtC knows that cycling is allowed there.
  3. Compare the RtC map with the City's bikeway map in your area, and tag those streets that are designated bikeways in OSM.  These should be tagged as "bicycle: designated".
  4. Cycling is allowed on most of Calgary's pathways, so pathways should be tagged as "bicycle: allowed". On most sidewalks, cycling isn't allowed, but if a short piece of sidewalk is an important connection or convenient shortcut, you can tag it as "bicycle: dismount".
  5. Follow a route/pathway you know well and add any connections between the path and side streets that are missing.
  6. Adding any other missing information to the map will make Ride the City more useful as well. Street names, alleyways, buildings, parks, amenities like bike parking, can all be added or edited in OSM and will show up on the Ride the City map. 
  7. If you know speed limits on streets around you, that will help the routing alogrithm as well: it's 50 km/h by default (street with no specified speed limit), a street tagged as 40 km/h will rank as safer, and a street that is tagged with a speed limit of 50 km/h or higher will be ranked as less safe.
  8. It will also help if Ride the City knows whether a pathway is paved or unpaved.
  9. If that is all too much hassle, just post here: At the top right, under "route options", select "copy to email."  Then post that and where you think it went wrong/where it should have routed you.
  10. You can also email your suggestions, observations, and complaints to [email protected]

Here are two short videos that explain how to edit OSM for these purposes:


Cword's picture

Funny routing

The direct route from glamorgan to wildwood come out as straight up 45th street, but if you want to get to edworthy park it suggests you ride "downtown" first.

Richard Z's picture

That's exactly the kind of

That's exactly the kind of stuff we want to get fixed... here the problem seems to be that Edworthy Park Rd doesn't connect to the pathway at the end. 

Cword's picture


I see it, I hadn't zoomed in that much.

Similarly the north end of the edworthy bridge does not connect to the shaganappi path at shag trail and bowness road

Richard Z's picture

I don't see a path along Shag

I don't see a path along Shag on the city's pathway map.  (That's why it's best that people with actual knowledge of how things work add some paths and connections in OSM.)

Charbucks's picture

It's there

It's there - it's a "regional pathway with snow removal". Though there is a strange disconnect where it crosses Bowness road - hopefully the routing system will be able to understand that it's possible to cross a road.


I honestly find google maps to be the best. I appreciate the OSM concept, but it just doesn't understand enough things. For example, I tried getting directions from "BikeBike Inc" (right near my house) to the University, and it understood the University but not BikeBike - despite having it marked on the map. I manually dragged the "start point" icon to BikeBike, and it gave me a path that I would not take because of traffic lights, even if it's more direct than taking the path. I think it didn't put me on the path because it's missing 29th street NW.


Finally, one thing that I like about Google maps is the ability to drag the centre of the path to an intermediate point and have it route me via that point. I couldn't seem to make the OSM do this - is there some way to get routing via a certain location?

Richard Z's picture

BikeBike (and all other bike

BikeBike (and all other bike shops) are on the map. You can click on the marker and the select "bike there" and it'll direct you to/from BikeBike from anywhere.

It's not missing 29 St NW although we probably should add the off-street pathway along it.  What was missing was a tiny connection from the 29 St/Parkdale Blvd intersection to the pathway.

I don't think it can route via a certain location, but you can right-click on individual streets or street segments and rate them (from "always very safe" to "always avoid") and RtC generates a community rating from that as well. You have to be logged in for that though (another feature: you can save your favorite routes or points of interest as well as your own preference/distatste for certain streets). For some reason that feature isn't working in Calgary (but just switch to, say Toronto to see how it works).  I've asked the RtC people why i's not working.

I read somewhere that Google maps isn't available on iPhones? Is that right?

mikewarren's picture

yes but no; and OSM

OSM routers can support that, but Ride the City hasn't provided an API in their javascript map to input the intermediate point(s).

I agree right now Google seems to be doing a better job routing. The main advantage of OSM is that the data is Open, *and* in easily consumable vector formats. This, for example, allowed me to produce very nice graphs of the downtown bike survey, which isn't really possible with Google (as all you get is a picture of a map, not the data).

Also, for example, the OSM data can be used to produce paper maps. We haven't done that (yet?) of course, but putting in time improving OSM means you'll *always* be able to access those improvements.

The longer-term goal here is to have high-quality mapping data useful to cyclists in Calgary, which will allow us to do other things like paper maps, tagging "our" routes, improving the router algorithms, etcetera. All things that are either hard or impossible with closed-source solutions like Google's.

sherryrunswest's picture

25A Street SW

Was curious if it showed the new ped bridge over Bow Trail.  It doesn't pick it up, it gives the 26 St across Bow Trail and down Sovereign as the Safer Route.

Richard Z's picture

That's because the path on

That's because the path on the north side of the bridge connects to the 24 St to Bow Tr onramp -- and that's one-way.  It works in the other direction.  Where does the path go/where do you enter 24 St off the path?  Can you/someone fix that in OSM?

Are the connections on the south side right? You can only access the bridge from 25A St?

jondub's picture

Mostly fine

There are a couple of pathways that I do not consider to be safe due high usage by off-leash dogs and avoid because of this that are showing up on the 'safer' route, but I suspect that the people who want the safer route would prefer the dogs to being on the road with cars.

Overall my commute route looks like they have got it pretty accurate.

Richard Z's picture

You can select "copy link to

You can select "copy link to email under "route options" in the menu on the top right and share the route it generated with your comments ("Should have routed along ...")

mikewarren's picture

reporting OSM problems

If you come across something that's missing or "weird" routes (likely due to missing OSM way/node connections), PLEASE post a link to the route here ro a description if you can't fix it in OSM yourself. I will get to it eventually.

Richard Z's picture

I think I got Hillhurst, West

I think I got Hillhurst, West Hillhurst, Sunnyside, Rosedale, Crescent Heights, Briar Hill, Banff Trail, Capitol Heights, the Beltline, downtown, and the University (south and east side) all fixed up. Looks like lots of work needed in the SE and NE -- many streets there don't even have names.

Let's make sure at least the important crossings of the rivers, LRT tracks, and arterial roads are in!

themacneils's picture

Great Tool

Kudos to everyone who has contributed to the OSM for Calgary.  I will definitely check out the links and make and adjustments or additions I can (when I have time of courseSmile)

mikewarren's picture

reminder: post here

If you find an issue, but don't have time to fix it (or don't know how) please post here!

gyrospanner's picture

I'm Stuck

I have gone through and checked that all of the nodes that go through Bowmont Park, or around it through Varsity are connected and they are, but if you pick a route from Silver Springs to Home Road on Ride the City, you get an extended route that goes west and then through Bowness...


I'm a newbie at thiis system and don't know all the intricaicacies, anybody got a fix for this?



Richard Z's picture

The pathway through Bowmont

The pathway through Bowmont didn't connect to the top of Home Rd ... fixed in OSM. Hope RTC updates with all the work we'e done over the weekend. But do keep posting problems if you find them.

barnecut's picture

Actually the pathway through

Actually the pathway through Bowmont was the old one from 5 years back. Used my GPS to plot a new one. Are updates getting though? 

mikewarren's picture

weekly, I blieve

As far as we know, they're using CloudMade extracts of OSM, which implies a weekly update schedule.

gyrospanner's picture

Oh, that explains it, Maybe?

I was looking for instant results on my changes to the Northwest around Bowmont Park.  I think that between me and Richard Z we might have cleaned it up a bit, but we'll see next week when things get updated.  I think that it might take weeks to get Ride the City to recognize the preferred routes from NW Calgary to downtown...


Does anybody have any insight into the algorithms they might be using?  I did a similar search on my blackberry tonight and the result was horrible!

mikewarren's picture


They haven't given us any details of the router setup, not even which routing implementation they're using. I am hoping to have some more time to play with some of this, especially as the data gets fixed up more. Any time I have to work on this is going to data-fixup. There *are* OSM routers that have many tunable parameters to play with.

mikewarren's picture


...the advantage of doing this work with OSM instead of something like Google is that there are other routing things besides Ride the City, so if that proves to have a poor routing algorithm it's not like we've lost any work making OSM data better!

chaingunsofdoom's picture

Made some SE additions

Roughly completed Quarry Way SE road, since that road physically exists. Hopefully it is OK for now. Also connected the Carburn park south entrance properly with the path that exists. Satellite image data is loading poorly for me, so backgrounds were patchy at-best when I added them.

mikewarren's picture


Some notes so these don't get lost:

Tag all calgary bikeway roads with "bicycle=designated". Add them to the calgary bike ways relation if you know how (not critical for the router).

Tag most MUPs as "highway=path". Ensure they connect at each end to something else which is cycle-able (road, other pathway, etc). These can also have "bicycle=designated" added to them as well, according to OSM guidelines.

We're not sure if "bicycle=yes" has any effect on Ride the City -- there are still bikeways I've seen tagged like this. I believe the intent of this tag is, for example, if you have a "highway=footpath" but bikes are also allowed you'd add "bicycle=yes". "highway=path" is supposed to imply that pedestrians and cyclists may use it. You can add a "surface=" tag if you like too. "highway=cycleway" would be appropriate for the separated MUPs (with "highway=footpath" for the pedestrian-only side).

On roads, the following tags are appropriate for Calgary:

 * "cycleway=shared_lane" or "cycleway=sharrow" for roads with sharrows like 19th street NW near the river

 * "cycleway=share_busway" for bus/bike lanes like 9th street SE.

 * "cycleway=lane" for roads with a painted lane, like 10th street NW

 * "cycleway=opposite" for contra-flow lanes, like 9A street NW

More here:

snowandscience's picture

Prefers 14 St over safer/better alternatives

From beltline to university it almost always routes me up 14 St to 16/17 St NW. This is a brutal route for a) traffic and b) the 17th St hill climb is way worse than 29th St. I can't convince it to use the Bow river pathway or 11/12 Ave, or even bike routed 10 Ave under any circumstances. Google gives me a close/right version every time. Should un-mark 14th St sidewalks as bike paths - so safer routes and crossings are preferred. 

mikewarren's picture

memorial overpass

Related to this, the bike/ped overpass at memorial isn't there yet either, which might contribute to this. It also seems the north-side bow river path might be tagged strangely as it's rendered as dotted-blue instead of green in the overlay. At least if you put the marker in university heights it uses 29th, but it is pretty much impossible to convince it to take the bow river path.

In general, I've noticed the RtC router is much less agressive at taking bike paths than google's router -- I think they need to turn that knob higer, especially for the "safer" option. Another example to record this, is from Ramsay to the south it is hard to convince it to route via the pathway along the river -- it likes to go via the industrial zones unless you put the start point quite far north in Ramsay.

Richard Z's picture

Apparently, bicycle

Apparently, bicycle=designated gets rendered as a dotted blue line, regardless of what highway= is (so also if you have a highway=cycleway with bicycle=designated, which happens sometimes).

Richard Z's picture

RtC map info has still to

RtC map info has still to update OSM data. The Bow River pathway wasn't connected to the bottomm of 29 St, should fix it when they updatethe data.

Which overpass, mike?

mikewarren's picture

it's fixed

The one right beside the c-train, it's now in there last I checked (live data, dunno if RtC has it).

Richard Z's picture

try ride the city again

looks like rtc updated with loads of edits from osm...  so it'd be great if you could try it on your favorite routes and in your neighborhoods again. let's find out if connecting the pathways and tagging the designated bike routes makes a difference. 

gyrospanner's picture

It has been updated, and

the routes it picks for me (downtown to Silver Springs & back ) are good.  Except it still chooses the route through Varsity rather than right through Bowmont.  Fair enough, I think its 50/50 choice for the commuters I've spoken to.


I will continue to check other routes, etc.

gyrospanner's picture

Updated, but still not consistent

I have been fooling around with it a little bit and have found that if I move my start point around in Silver Springs, I can get several different routes chosen, most of which are terrible.  I think I need to go looking for nodes to connect....

barnecut's picture

Varsity to Rocky Ridge

I triied to find a route from Varsity to Rocky Ridge with various maps. Not fun getting from Ranchlands to Arbour Lake. Anyway, I got the bridge across Stoney Trail added. This one may take a while so would someone look to see if I'm on track.  Thanks.

Richard Z's picture

Great, thanks. Remember that

Great, thanks. Remember that whatever path(s) lead to important crossings like this have to be connected to streets on either side (eg, I connected it on the southeast side to Arbour Crest Dr NW). In potlatch, select the path, click on the end node (now you can extend the path) then find the street path until it lights up in blue.  If you want to connect a path in the middle, select it, then shift click on the one end oint of your connection (new path intersecting the path) then find the street and click on that.  You'll still have to select your new path and make it a cyclepath or footpath with cycling allowed (not designated).

spsoon's picture

Nose Hill routes

From my house in MacEwan, pretty much any route to the south takes me on singletrack over Nose Hill.  That's fine if you're looking for a mountain bike ride, but not appropriate for commuting, road biking, or any kind of riding in wet/winter conditions.  Most of those routes should be deleted in my opinion.

Richard Z's picture

Good point!  Simply deleting

Good point!  Simply deleting them, I think, is not an option. Will research how to get RtC to route around Nose Hill.  It may be that it doesn't find a good route around that's not much much longer (eg Google wants you to go all the way to Nose Creek).  Which route do you take?

mikewarren's picture


Weird, I tried some just now and RtC is indeed routing on dirt through Nose Hill, even though there are paved paths (and with a very quick look, it appears the correct ones are marked as paved). Sounds like a problem with RtC's router. As Richard says, we can't just delete them all! OSM data isn't just for and the fix should be in their router.

mikewarren's picture

two issues

I see two issues: RtC doesn't seem to understand parking lots, so the actual paved path on the NE side isn't connected (or at least, the parking lot isn't rendered) and although the paved pathways have "surface=paved" the unpaved ones lack a tag at all ("surface=dirt" should be added to these). I'd hope RtC's router would then not use the dirt ones, or at least prefer the paved...

barnecut's picture


Does the IOS app work or should I wait until Calgary is formally added?


Richard Z's picture

Android works.  It lacks

Android works.  It lacks functionality (no drag/drop of markers, no logged-in mode with your own savd and rated routes).  But it works.

barnecut's picture

Update Cycle

Does anyone have an idea as to how often or when RtC updates from OSM? I'd like to know when to check back to see if my fixes/mistakes are working.

mikewarren's picture

"about every week" I think as accurate as we know for sure right now. If you made a bunch of changes, Richard Z or I can mike the RtC folks and see if they'll do a manual update.

barnecut's picture

Need a lesson

Don't fix this. Tell or show me how to fix it myself please. 

Route from Varscliff Place NW to 5320 40 Avenue NW doesn't use the left turn at 40 Avenue off Varscliff Road, but goes up to the lane and around the block. I've messed with this and need some guidance.


Richard Z's picture

No idea but it looks to me

No idea but it looks to me like there are is a separate connection between the left and right lane of 40 Ave at the intersection with Varscliff Rd/52 St that overlaps. Maybe that confuses it?

mikewarren's picture


It looks like it's connected properly in merkaartor, but there's a double-node right at the 40th avenue intersection that might be screwing things up (it's connected fine, however). I didn't edit the nodes.

I did change: tagged "bicycle=designated" instead of "bicycle=yes" for 40th avenue bike way, and took out the "oneway=no" on Varcliff which *could* have been the issue (not sure how/if the router deals with that). For any bikeway "bicycle=designated" is the right tag, and oneway=no isn't needed -- it could be that some tools just incorrectly look for the existance of a oneway tag without checking the value...?

In general, I find merkaartor way better for "real" editing (of ways, nodes, etc) and Potlatch only really good for tagging and places-of-interest. I didn't change the double-node thing, but if the oneway stuff didn't help, I would recommend deleting the Varcliff connector and re-creating as an extension of the southern block of Varcliff.

there's definitely something it doesn't like about that intersection, though -- if you change the route to be further up varcliff, it goes east along 40th and does a uturn at the next intersection...

barnecut's picture


I took out the duplcate way/nodes the other day and made sure there were proper intersecitons. I had previously been trying the hard way to make this work. Now I'm waiting for the update to see if it worked. I understand now that an extension of a street works better than a separate connector.

I have more changes to make throughout the city but I'm moving slowly so that I don't leave a trail of follies behind me. I'm using GPS traces.

Thanks for the help.

barnecut's picture

50 Street NW Connector

Richard, I see that 50 Street is now connected with itself in Varsity. I changed it to 'Cyclists Dismount" as there is no way to ride through there except on the sidewalk. Will my change mess up routing? 

mikewarren's picture


sorry i read sidewalk wrongly

i use that way quite a bit...






Richard Z's picture

Flooding in OSM

Mike, unless you're flooded out, can you find out what the OSM policy is on changing pathway segments that are washed out to "under construction"?

Richard Z's picture

YYCflood changes to OSM

I've just completed a first stab at telling OSM/RtC about closed pathways and bridges.  All ways (almost al, at least) in this changeset:

were tagged with


as per

Reflecting all official pathway closures listed as of June 27.

If you also want to tell OSM about changes/closures to pathways, use the above keys. In Potlatch (the standard web editor) you have to switch to "advanced" view and then add the keys manually.  Please add link to changesets here so we can revise them as closures are lifted!

Richard Z's picture

Glendmore dam pathway now

Glendmore dam pathway, Bow River MUP on east bank between 17 and Nose Creek now open, changed in OSM

Richard Z's picture

Ride the City now honours flood closures

As per the comment above, many closed pathways have been tagged as temporarily closed.  Ride the City now will not route through them!  Please let us know:

  • if it avoids pathways that are actually open,
  • if there are additional pathway segments that should be  tagged as closed
  • if the detours are wonky
Richard Z's picture

Stoney Tr bridge, access to Tuscany at Nose Hill Dr

There's a new tunnel under Nose Hill Dr on the west side of the Stoney Tr interchange with a new pathway link into Tuscany at the SE corner.  I believe the bike/ped bride under Stoney over the Bow and into Bowness Park from the west is open again.  Can someone familiar with the area update Open Street Maps to let Ride the City know about this?