Pedestrian and Bike Mapping in New York City

Ariel Kadouri

Playlists: 'sotm2022' videos starting here / audio

This talk will cover the growing New York City OpenStreetMap community and our efforts at coordinating mapping our cities’ quirks into the OSM data model. New York City (and much of America) has sidewalks that end abruptly, intersections without proper pedestrian control, uncontrolled slip lanes, bike paths that lead into stairways, crossings without curb cuts. Mapping these features helps NYC pedestrians analyze conditions, report and advocate for changes.

he New York City community is interested in keeping track of pedestrian features throughout the five boroughs. Both to improve routing and to keep track of dangerous or poorly designed infrastructure. While NYC is required by law to create accessible conditions, our sidewalk mapping today helps find areas that do not yet meet those standards.

OpenStreetMap contains the most up to date resources for the city’s bike lane network, including planned projects. Discussions helped standardize when to draw bike lanes separated from the road lane (when there is a barrier) and coordinate responses to new construction (the race to survey the new Brooklyn Bridge bike lane.) While the city may consider a certain segment protected, OpenStreetMap’s “on the ground rule” brings our maps closer to reality.

In 2021 the community came together to focus on completing sidewalks in Flushing, Queens. In 2021 and 2022 the community mapped bicycle racks using fieldpapers. These efforts show how to organize support to improve a single area, and bring in new mappers with an activity focused on a single goal. Completed areas can then drive analysis.

I will share examples of areas that have been mapped and where they brush up against the guidelines for bike and pedestrian mapping. I will also share analysis driven by this mapping. Finally there will be anecdotes having reported issues to the city and keeping track of progress with OpenStreetMap.