Add bike racks to OpenStreetMap

The OpenStreetMap (OSM) project invites people in a Project Of The Week to encourage participation in OSM and invite newbies into the fold. This week, OSM invites bike riders to add bicycle parking to the map.

Adding bike racks is one of the easiest things you can do to learn how to use OpenStreetMaps.

OpenStreetMap is a crowdsourced map wiki — edits and contributions are accepted by anybody.

If you don’t know how to add bike parking in OSM, I’ll show you how.

1. First, you need an account. Visit, click the “Sign Up” button and fill in the required information. All done!

2. Second, identify your bike parking area. OSM’s Nominatim search doesn’t work with street addresses, but in larger, more general areas such as city names. Search on the name of your city, select the correct choice, and then zoom in from there.

For my example, I’ll add bike racks to the Walmart Supercenter in Longmont, CO. Here’s the initial view — no bike racks visible! The Walmart is on the northeast corner of those highways.

OSM View: Longmont Main & Hwy 66 Walmart

2. Click the “Edit” tab to add the bike parking feature. Above the top of the map, there’s an “Edit” tab. If you hover over the tab, you’ll have a choice of editing with Potlatch Version 1 or Potlatch Version 2. For this tutorial, I use Version 2. Version 1 is more stable but more typing is involved and it’s more difficult to use. There’s a Potlatch 1 bike parking tutorial here.

When you get to the edit screen, you’ll have a satellite view of your location. Your edit screen should look something like this. In my example, I’m zoomed in over the Walmart – it’s the large, white roof with the even larger parking lot adjacent to it.

OSM: Add bike rack

3. Add bike rack locations. Update: Thank you to Andy Allan, who let me know you can drag and drop the bike parking icon to the correct location on the edit screen. You can ignore all this stuff about red dots and green dots. Just select the bike parking icon from the “Transport” tags menu, drag and drop, save and you’re done!

At this Walmart, several bike racks are located to the left and right of the building entrance (which is on the parking lot side of the building). To add bike racks, I click once at the bike rack location — a red dot appears. Click again on the red dot, and the dot turns green.

It can be a little tricky to select that single dot. When you first create the dot, the editor wants to create a “way” — a line segment. If you see a little dashed line when you move your mouse around, you need to click your mouse right on the dot. If you messed up and created a line instead, hit escape key and try again.

Finally, if you accidentally click on and change an existing feature, just click the “undo” button near the top of the edit screen.

The green dot you created marks a point of interest. It should be highlighted yellow as well, as shown in the below image — look for the green dot with the yellow circle around it.

OSM: Add bike rack

4. Add bicycle parking tag. Next, tell OSM what this point of interest is with a “tag.” The left side of your edit screen has a tag drop down menu. Initially, it says “unknown.” Click the dropdown, and you’ll have a menu of tag categories to choose from, with each category having several selections.

For a bike rack, select “Transport” and then select “Bicycle Parking,” like so.

OSM: Add bike rack

5. Optional features. Finally, you can set other characteristics of your bike parking location, such as the bike capacity, whether it’s covered or not, and even the name of the location. When you’ve set the bike parking tag and the other features, a bike parking icon will appear on your edit screen.

OSM: Add bike rack

Once you’re finished, click the “Save” button, add a brief comment about what you did (e.g. “Longmont, CO Walmart Supercenter bike parking“) and you’re done.

Give OSM a day or two to update the data to the main map, and go back to check again if you like.

Go ahead and add those bike parking dots for bike racks and other bike parking facilities in your city.

H/T Kumiko.

Future: How to add bike paths and bike lanes, and how to fix the bike lanes and paths that are already in OSM!


  1. Nice tip. I’ve been identifying racks in my home town — San Mateo, CA — using Google Maps. See I like the idea of adding these data to an “open” repository. So, a couple of questions… Do you know if I can import KML into OSM? And what’s the best way to retain my info about the type of rack, which I find quite useful, within in OSM?

  2. Thanks Richard – Just the spur I needed to get started with contributing to OSM! I know someone around our city has GIS for all of our bike racks, now to find it and how to import…8)

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