Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 32mm — 1.6 sec, f/14, ISO 1600 — map & image data — nearby photos
from a big snowfall two years ago
Kyoto recently had a fairly big snow, but I didn't get out for photos, so I thought I'd post some additional photos from a pair of big-snow days that Kyoto had two years ago. First there was “Kyoto’s Biggest Snow in 58 Years” and its followup, about the big snow that started on New Year's day (2015). Then, two days later, there was an even bigger snow that garnered “Kyoto At Night During a Heavy Snow” posted in three parts (parts one, two, and three).
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1100 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 560 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 78mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 720 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 3600 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 86mm — 1/800 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 150mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 900 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 116mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 450 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 86mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 220 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 66mm — 1/8 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1600 — map & image data — nearby photos
which reminds me that I need to
redo “Shutter Speed’s Effect on Falling Snow”
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 40mm — 2 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1600 — map & image data — nearby photos
so given somewhat of a funky/creamy treatment
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1.3 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1600 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1.6 sec, f/8, ISO 1000 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nanzen Temple (南禅寺)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 45mm — 30 sec, f/11, ISO 2500 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nanzen Temple Main Gate
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 6 sec, f/11, ISO 2500 — map & image data — nearby photos
Shoin'an (正因庵) at the Nanzen Temple (南禅寺)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 38mm — 6 sec, f/10, ISO 2500 — image data
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/8 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2500 — image data
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1 sec, f/8, ISO 2500 — map & image data — nearby photos
as seen in the 2nd photo
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 3200 — map & image data — nearby photos
a kusaridoi at the Eigenji Temple (永源寺), in Shiga Japan
Rob Cole used to be one of the more prolific engineers creating plugins for Adobe Lightroom, until two years ago when he seemed to have fallen off the face of the Internet. His web site vanished, taking with it his valuable trove of solutions for photographers, and at the same time, his active participation in online forums stopped.
For the past two years no one in this facet of his life knew what had happened, but I've finally learned today that Rob passed away unexpectedly in January 2015.
This situation brings to mind “On the Permanence of One’s Online (and Offline) Presence” from seven years ago, but in this case the online presence disappeared at the same time he did. Judging by the various messages from his users that I've received since Rob disappeared, I know his work had helped a lot of people. For what it's worth, I've reached out to his family to see whether they'd like to find a way to make it available again, if they even have access to it.
Anyway, since his disappearance was so unsettling, I'm posting this to provide some closure to those that knew him online. Rest in peace, Rob, and condolences to your family.
I had a long and interesting bicycle ride down to Osaka last weekend that I've been wanting to write about, and I thought I might finally get around to it yesterday, but I went on a ride instead. Today, I'll just share some pictures from yesterday's shorter (76km/48mi) ride (view at Strava).
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
the hill in the foreground and the mountain in the background
( they don't look like much from here )
First I visited a bump of a hill covered in bamboo and bamboo farming, with quaint roads running here and there through it.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/2, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
( one of several )
I didn't know what to expect when I got to the bamboo-grove hill (“mountain” is too much for this), but the road I happen to have entered on started off with quite the little climb, 300m (330yd) at 15%. The two photos above are from that road. I guess it's not well known, because I made a Strava segment for it and only seven people had ridden it prior. A shame.
Once you're up top, you can see bamboo put to use with various fence designs...
Each design is explained a bit with little signboards. The one below describes the photo above, along the lines of “infinitely rolling waves”...
This was my first visit by bicycle, but I'd actually visited part of this grove some years ago by scooter, a few of the photos from that trip later appearing on “Photos of Farming in Japan for Captain Bill” three years ago.
This time by bicycle I made sure to do all the roads. It was nice.
The picture above, which I took while exiting the hill, happens to show just how flat the area is; it's near the bottom of the hill, but the view is sweeping. I didn't take the photo for the view, though, but as a memo to myself that the road jigs to avoid a barrier and some steps. As I mentioned the other day in “Updating Maps for Cycling, Including Japan’s Pseudo One-Way Roads”, I spend considerable energy updating OpenStreetMap, so I take photos like the one above to remind myself to ensure that the map is correct.
I meandered around to try different roads through the groves...
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 43mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1600 — map & image data — nearby photos
While wandering around I came across this little side alley diving down the mountain, bathed in rich light filtering through the bamboo. The beautiful scene makes me happy, as well as the small sign on the right pointing down the road to a “kids' (play) area”, but the sign on the left makes me sad, saying “beware of perverts”. I shudder to think what prompts the need for such a sign, but they're not all that uncommon. Here's another one.
The alley doesn't go very far, but halfway down is the turnoff for the kids play area, which I thought had a lovely mood despite the previous sign...
It had the kind of ambiance I'd expect to see a movie scene shot in.
Unfortunately, the whole alley was just 100m long, but at 18%, a bit steep. It probably wasn't worth it, but I made a segment for it.
From there I made my way to the next destination, the mountain road on which the Yoshimine-dera Temple sits, a temple on a large picturesque site that I've been to a number of times, most recently “The Whole Gamut of My Blog In One Spectacular Visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple”.
The first half of the climb, up to the temple's parking-lot entrance, is 2.6km (1.6mi) at an average grade of 10.4%, though the last half a kilometer averages 17%. Passing the parking-lot entrance, you then start what seems to be an even steeper set of more than a dozen switchbacks up the mountain, above and behind the temple, though in reality this second half of the climb averages only 9.5% for its 1.4km (0.9mi).
These distances and slopes are just guesses, because it's difficult to figure out just how long the road is. For some reason, all the maps I've seen of the second half of the climb are wrong, each disagreeing wildly from the others and from reality (the latter I can check via the meager satellite-photo views that are available, and by trying to follow the maps while viewing video from my bike's front camera of my climbs).
GPS tracks are worthless as references because of the bad signal one gets in these steep mountains. Even the government road-outline data I use (described here) is patently wrong.
I've updated OpenStreetMap for the area as best I can, but not yet confidently enough to make one of my “surveyed” segment for Strava.
Anyway, about yesterday's ride, I had a lot of apprehension about the climb. I'd done the first half only once before, early on in my cycling life, as reported in “A Day of Vertical-Climb Cycling Torture in Western Kyoto”. When I did that ride, its 2,490m (8,170') of vertical climb was a record for me. Now, a year and a half later, it just slips into my top 25. It wouldn't be a noteworthy ride for me now, but the memory of how tough the climb was is vibrant.
So goal was simple: do the whole thing (both halves) in one go, without stopping. This harks back to when I was just getting started in cycling and my goal for a tough climb improved from “don't quit” to “don't stop”.
In the end, it was easier than I thought, especially since the road was dry and so I didn't have to worry too much about slipping on the steepest parts.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 31mm — 1/100 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — image data
I stopped for a few minutes to eat some energy cookies and chocolate yokan at the place described in “Without Fate: Dumping Ground of Monumental Proportions”.
It was a mistake to take a break at the top of the mountain, as the combination of sweat and cooling down made me quite cold once I got on my way. My route took me deeper into the mountains, so the actual temperature fell as well, down to just a smidge above freezing.
The route went up and down mildly for a while, and then I took a turn I'd not taken before, and the road dropped like a rock. The first kilometer dropped at 13%, and as is my tendency when my first exposure to a road is as a descent, the thought of climbing it sent figurative chills up my spine to match the literal ones from the previous paragraph.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
seems too generous a word for a few houses in the middle of nowhere
I eventually descended into Kameoka City and rode across it toward Mt. Atago.
The OpenStreetMap data that my routing was based upon wasn't very good in the village just before the climb, and I was routed over some questionable “roads”, including some short unpaved areas. The road above is lovely, but had I been in a car, the bollards would have been quite the surprise.
I've since updated the map.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
I assume associated with the Atago Shrine at the top of the mountain
One serendipitous side effect of the bad routing is that I came across these statues, which of course immediately reminded me of this place. These statues were less whimsical, but still interesting in their unexpectedness. According to a plaque, they are self portraits done by class-of-1989 graduating seniors of the local high school.
I then climbed up Mt. Atago via a little-used road that I'd been on only once before, as a descent, on this ride in October. The road can be a bit rough in spots, but otherwise it's a lovely climb and so I was shocked to find that there wasn't even a Strava segment for it. I made a quick segment from my ride data, and found that only eight others had done before. Very surprising.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 26mm — 1/100 sec, f/1.9, ISO 3200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/80 sec, f/1.7, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
at a dam, without much river at the moment
After that it was just a straight shot home, though I did divert a bit to do a little 23%-grade climb on the way home.
Overall, it was a satisfying ride.
SC-04E at an effective 31mm — 1/450 sec, f/2.2, ISO 50 — map & image data — nearby photos
at Hiyoshi Dam (日吉ダム), Hiyoshi Japan
from this ride in June with Gorm and Manseki
photo by Manseki Kanemitsu
So 2016 is over, making it my first full year of cycling, having been bitten by the cycling bug in the spring of 2015. Like last year's summary of my 2015 cycling, this post looks back on my 2016 cycling with my geeky-data eyes.
I titled the post with the word “Reflections” so that I can sprinkle these kinds of photos throughout:
So, in 2016 my cycling year was eight months long, and during those eight months, I rode to some extent or another on 102 days, totaling 8,459km (5,256mi). On average that's about 83km (52mi) each time, twice a week.
My longest ride was the 260km (162mi) “Coffee in Nagoya” round trip, followed by the 225km (140mi) loop of this silly ride. Overall, I did four rides of at least 200km, and nine “century” rides... rides of at least 100 miles (161km).
My Eddington Number for 2016 is 50. (My lifetime Eddington Numbrer currently stands at 58.)
Four of the year's twelve months were spent away from cycling, helping out my folks in America after my mom had a stroke. The lessons I learned during that time came in handy on this October ride when, in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, I came across the lady above just outside her house, struggling to move from a walker to a wheelchair. In the momentary glimps I saw as I rode by, I recognized the signs in her movement of someone who had survived a stroke and wouldn't take “no” for an answer from her own body.
I returned and offered assistance, which she accepted. The stroke had robbed her of speech and impaired her movement, so communication was difficult, but she could respond to yes/no questions, and combined with some gestures, I understood that she wanted to get into the wheelchair and head off. Once we were underway, she took over, not wanting further assistance. I watched her head down the road toward rice fields, where I suppose family or friends were working. I was scared to death that she'd lose control on the slight slope of the road and find herself upside down in the ditch, but it seems this was something she had plenty of experience with. I took the photo and continued on my own way.
iPhone 6+ + front camera — 1/470 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image data — nearby photos
(I don't have many group-ride shots that I'm actually in)
I had a lot of fun social group rides, including (among many others) this cold January ride in Shiga, October visits to Miyama and Onyu Pass, a large NORU ride, and epic “Rooftop of Kyoto” gravel ride and this even-more-epic Mt. Norikura loop.
Those last two rides deserve the “epic” label in my world. Both were about 164km (102mi), each with just under 4,000m (13,000') of elevation gain. Each was the most climbing I've ever done in a single day.
Overall in 2016, I climbed 140,965m (462,484') of vertical ascent. (These values are real, and not Strava's voodoo elevation gain.)
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 33mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
(from “Grueling “Rooftop of Kyoto” Ridge Road Gravel Grind”)
But most of my rides were solo exploration rides. I like exploring new areas, going at my own (usually slow) pace, usually straying too far for too long. (Then I have to rush back at a breakneck pace to make it home in time, which is not so fun.).
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1250 — map & image data — nearby photos
on Mt. Rokko, Kobe Japan
All my rides start/end at home, except for visits to Mt. Norikura and Mt. Rokko.
The visit to Mt. Rokko in Kobe was a lovely ride with Manseki, though it's close enough to Kyoto that I should be able to make the round trip in a day. A goal for 2017.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 58mm — 1/640 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
from early in one of the roads up Mt. Rokko
Mt. Norikura, which hosts Japan's highest paved road at over 2,700m (8,900') elevation, is a five-hour drive from Kyoto, but was quite worth it for three days of spectacular cycling.
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — map & image data — nearby photos
I got plenty of flat tires early in the year...
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
on this cursed ride
photo by Manseki Kanemitsu
But things got much better when I switched to Continental Gatorskins...
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 4500 — image data
Since switching in July, I've gotten only one flat in the 5,341km (3,300mi) ridden with them. I did swap one tire out after 3,000km as a preventative measure, since I had apparently done too much sliding on a locked-up rear wheel, burning off a layer of rubber...
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/50 sec, f/11, ISO 6400 — image data
but it's not as bad as it looks
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 4500 — image data
The protective mesh under that “hole” is perfectly fine, so the tire is probably fine, but I swapped it out just in case, moving the front tire to the rear to replace this one, then putting on a fresh tire on the front.
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
from this ride
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
at the Iwato Ochiba Shrine (岩戸落葉神社)
Okay, these “reflecting” photos get old quickly. I'll stop.
iPhone 6+ — 1/30 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image data — nearby photos
Not the kind of party this young stag was hoping for
On this ride in December I was happy to make some significant PRs (personal records) for myself, but what was most noteworthy was this stag, which I first saw when it bolted from the forest above me onto the road just in front of me, skittering with two vaulting steps across the road, then launched itself down into the boulder-strewn river below.
It definitely got my attention.
As I watched it leap to the boulders far below, I thought he was a goner, but this is what wild deer do. He was fine. He climbed up the other side and stopped, looking back at me. Or so I thought. It turns out that he was looking for the dog that was stalking him, which I noticed a few minutes later wandering in the very small village (half a dozen houses) I was checking out.
Eventually the dog found the stag, which had gotten himself into an enclosed area he couldn't figure out how to get out of, and the dog (two dogs by now) kept harassing the poor thing. I tried talking to the dog in English and Japanese (and by barking at it), but it never gave any indication that it even sensed my existence, so I went back to try to track down its owner.
It turns out that the owner was a hunter, and the dogs were trained to track prey. As someone who enjoys a good steak, I felt an obligation to watch as the hunter felled the stag, but he would wait for his partner before doing it, and I didn't have the time. I continued on my ride with an appreciation of life and death and the part it plays in my diet.
iPhone 6+ — 1/1000 sec, f/2.2, ISO 50 — map & image data — nearby photos
on my last 100+km ride of the year
I had planned on riding early in the morning of Jan 1, 2017, to a mountain about an hour away, to see the first sunrise of the new year. It's a Japanese thing. But I came down with a cold just before that, derailing my plans for both New Year's day and New Year's eve.
Apparently I have very “sensitive” tonsils, which seem to pick up bacteria easily. Even just too much cold air on them can give me mild cold-like symptoms the next day, which is why during the winter I can't really put in heavy cycling efforts... I can't risk heavy breathing when the air's cold.
If it's really cold, I can wear a mask that keeps some warm air around...
iPhone 6+ — 1/15 sec, f/2.2, ISO 250 — map & image data — nearby photos
a year ago, with a mask to warm the air before I breathe it in
Despite the ill-timed illness, 2016 did end on a very high cycling note for me. While sick at home on Dec 31, the post office dropped off a package from Mike Bennett, the guy who hired me into Yahoo! almost 20 years ago.
Those who weren't around at the time might not know how huge a force Yahoo! was... it was the Internet for many folks. It was relevant and innovative. As a software engineer, it was the place to be; it was an amazing eight years of my personal and professional life. Among employees from that time, I'd guess all feel as I do... we still bleed purple and yellow (Yahoo!'s colors).
Anyway, Mike had Yahoo! cycling jerseys made up for an annual charity bike ride he and others took part in. Back then I had no interest in cycling whatsoever ("What kind of idiot rides a bike when they can drive? Or, even better, just stay at work and get stuff done!"), but now that I have interest, I asked whether he might have an extra one lying around. He did, and that's what arrived.
I was really looking forward to it, but wasn't prepared for the emotions as I opened it to see the Yahoo! logo and colors. I was swept back to those heady years of exhilarating innovation and camaraderie, and tears welled up in my eyes.
It's a summer jersey, so I won't wear it until I can wear it without a jacket covering it up. I can't wait.
Everyone is familiar with Google Maps, but for various reasons (cost, quality, expressability), many mapping applications use map data from OpenStreetMap (“OSM”) instead. It's free to use and anyone can add/edit/update it pretty much in real time... it's like Wikipedia, but for maps.
I have particular interest in it because lots of cycling-stuff uses OpenStreetMap data...
I upload the routes my cycling computer (a Garmin Edge 820), which itself uses OpenStreetMap data for its maps, that I load from here.
Then of course we have Strava, which uses OpenStreetMap data for most of their maps, such as seen above.
Like Wikipedia, the quality of the data varies widely depending on where you look. Here in Japan, large cities tend to have very good data, probably both because the original data the map was seeded with long ago (often from Yahoo! and Microsoft Bing maps) was good within cities, and also because more people are interested in cities and so maps for these areas tend to be viewed and updated by more people more often.
But even within cities the data can be spotty at times, and out in rural areas it can be pretty bad. But the beauty of it is that when we come across data that's obviously wrong, we can just fix it. Like with Wikipedia, everyone enjoys the fruits of everyone's updates.
Of course, now that I want to talk about bad data and show an example, I can't find any really bad areas that I haven't already fixed, but just poking around the countryside I came across this:
This is the view in the default OpenStreetMap map editor, with the mapped roads presented over some satellite imagery. It's clear from the imagery that some roads have not been mapped, some have not been mapped well, and some non-existent roads have been added (such as the one shown with a red border in the screenshot above).
You have to be a bit careful about blindly trusting the satellite images, since they can be old or misaligned, but if you trust them, you can just go ahead and start fixing the map to match the imagery. The editor is pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it.
Being a geek, I go a step further than trusting the satellite images. I use road data from the Japanese government, via its Geospatial Information Authority of Japan web site, to build something I can overlay within the OpenStreetMap editor to show me the surveyed location of roads:
The data from the Japanese government can also be suspect (old, misaligned, or for proposed roads that don't yet exist), but it's a good sign when this data matches the satellite photo perfectly. So, I start fixing things...
It takes only a moment to fix the little area seen in the screenshots above, but it's sort of addicting. You're fixing a road that connects to another road that's just as bad, so you start correcting it, and so on. Luckily, Japan is an island nation, so in theory there's a limit to how far it can take me. I tend to get caught in a “just one more fix” loop until I can force myself to stop and leave areas of the map untouched and incorrect. This is difficult for a data geek like me to do.
Here's another example showing poorly-mapped roads not far from the spot above:
Before, but with my road-edge overlay
mouseover a button to see that image
The difference between “Middle” and “After” is not that the road mapping was moved, but that within the map editor, I switched to a different satellite-imagery layer. There are various layers, and the quality of each varies considerably as you move around. In this case, the first's images were offset to the southeast by about the width of a road, and the second's images weren't. (It could be that neither are correct, but in this case I could compare with the government survey data, and so knew the second one to be correct.)
In writing this post, I realized that I used the wrong set of images to roughly place the lake that pokes in from the right side of the frame... in the “After” view, the lake is in the wrong spot. I've since returned to fix it.
So, after saving a set of updates, it can take some time for the new data to percolate to all the places that use it...
Update Speed to Web-based Maps
Web sites that use OpenStreetMap data can see updates almost immediately... within a minute. Strava seems to have a slightly longer delay, likely due to intermediate caching in their backend, so updates might take five or ten minutes to appear there.
Here is another before/after pair of screenshots from Strava, showing tiny part of this epic ride two weeks ago, descending into Osaka on an exceedingly-steep mountain road used by a lot of tourists on foot. It turned out that the OpenStreetMap coverage here was pretty sparse, and I thought to update it because folks on foot would likely appreciate accurate maps when deciding where to trudge up and down.
mouseover a button to see that image
Update Speed to Route Building
Other uses of OpenStreetMap data take longer to update. For example, GraphHopper, where I make cycling routes, refreshes their routing data only every few days. The maps update visually right away, but the routes they generate won't reflect updates for up to a few days.
I don't know the update schedule for Strava's route builder, but it doesn't seem to be very often. Changes I made two weeks ago are still not reflected in its routes.
Update Speed for Garmin GPS Units
Garmin apparently sells detailed maps for various areas of the world, but I have no experience with these. Rather, on my Garmin 820 cycling computer I use maps derived from OpenStreetMap data, packaged for English-language Garmin devices by a guy in Osaka. Because these devices can't display Japanese natively, his preparation process converts Japanese text to “English” (to romaji). It's quite convenient.
He makes a new version available about twice a month, each time bringing in the accumulated updates. The web page is all in Japanese, but downloading and installing is simple.
In about the middle of the web page is a grid with a purple background...
The top pair of items are the latest data, the one marked in green is a version that includes contour lines, the one marked in red does not. I use the latter, but a hiker probably wants the former.
Each download zip holds two “*.img” files (“gmapsupp.img” and “gmapsupp_search.img”). After unzipping, just copy the two “*.img” files into your Garmin unit's “Garmin” folder. That's all there is to installing these maps and their updates.
Update Speed for Offline-Map Apps
The two phone apps I mentioned earlier are very convenient because after an initial map download, they don't need an internet connection to work, so you can use them when you're deep in the mountains with no coverage. Both are available on both iOS and Android.
In the case of Galileo Offline Maps, the map for all of Japan currently takes about 470 megabytes of storage. With Maps.me, you can load maps by the prefecture level (e.g. state/province). Kyoto Prefecture currently takes 47 megabytes (though the app inexplicably includes “Kyoto Prefecture” under the “Shikoku” region, despite my having reported this bug to them a year ago).
Updates that you (and I and others) make to OpenStreetMap data won't get into these apps very quickly, though. They tend to refresh their maps only once every month or three.
Each app has its strengths. You can record your track with Galileo Offline Maps, while Maps.me lets you do turn-by-turn routing (and you can route while offline, too).
Hidden Map Features: One Way(ish) Streets
I've been making updates to OpenStreetMap data like this for a year, and have spent way, way too much time on it. I guess it's my way of trying to give back a bit for all the wonderful stuff I am freely allowed to use. However, there was one part of the updates that was particularly frustrating.
At first the problem may not be apparent...
lots of one-way streets.... sort of
To understand the problem, let's look at a typical “one way” street sign in Japan:
The devil is in the details.... the vast vast majority of “one way” signs in Japan are paired with another sign:
Bicycles are allowed to go either direction on such streets, which is, as I said, most one-way streets in Japan. It's quite convenient for cyclists.
I would guess that the little “Except Bicycles” sign is the most common street sign in Japan, since it's added to almost all of the “one way” and “do not enter” signs.
So why do we care about this when mapping? If left as is, automatic routing (such as via the Maps.me phone app or the GraphHopper and Strava web sites) won't utilize these hybrid one-way roads to their fullest extent when routing for bicycles, yielding results that are more inconvenient than they should be, but in the worst case completely disallowing routing through an area that should be allowed.
So, the OpenStreetMap editor does have a way to mark such streets as “not one way for bicycles”, but it's not convenient:
Select the street segment
In the left sidebar, scroll down to the “All tags” list. Each street will have its own mix of tags, but if it displays as a one-way street, it'll have a “oneway” tag with a value of “yes” (or in some cases, “-1” or “1” or “true”, which all mean the same as “yes” for our purposes).
As illustrations, here are the tag lists from two random one-way streets:
Add a “oneway:bicycle” tag with a “no” value...
1) Click the add-tag “+”
2) Add field “oneway:bicycle”
3) Make its value “no”
4) Voilà, it's now a one-way road for all but bicycles
One has to be careful to make sure the updates are appropriate. Sometimes very large streets are encoded with separate “roads” for each direction of travel, and each such “road” is one way in its direction for bicycles as well. If these are given a “oneway:bicycle” tag, the value should be “yes”.
It's very nice that “one way for all but bicycles” is possible, but how it's done is really inconvenient, both because of all the steps one must go through to add the notation, and because there's no way to know whether a one-way road has been so notated without scanning all the tags for “oneway:bicycle”.
So, when you look at something like this...
that may or may not have been updated for bicycles
... you don't know to what extent, if any, the one-way streets have been updated for bicycles. Even if you have the patience of a saint and check/update them all, will you remember the exact extent of your work after a week or a month, or will you have to spot check for “oneway:bicycle” to remind yourself that you've already done this area? But in either case, how do you know you got them all?
I was in the midst of this frustration yesterday when I tickled myself pink by coming up with a solution:
I made it so that streets I need to address stand out visually.
To do this, I downloaded the source code to the OpenStreetMap map editor and made a few changes so that non-highway streets that are noted “oneway”, but that have no “oneway:bicycle” notation of any kind, are displayed with exaggerated thickness.
If it's truly one way even for bicycles, I add “oneway:bicycle” with a value of “yes”. This doesn't have an effect on routing, but it denotes to anyone inspecting the tags that the bicycle aspect has been addressed.
But for the typical one-way street, I add “oneway:bicycle” with a value of “no”.
And to make it easier to apply a “oneway:bicycle” tag, I updated the UI so that it's a simple checkbox that cycles among “no tag”, “no”, and “yes”.
And to make it even easier, I made a keyboard shortcut to cycle through the tag values, so I just click a street, tap the key, click the next street and tap the key again, etc.
Once all the “fat” streets are gone, I'm done with an area. Easy peasy! It takes about 15~20 seconds to take care of an area the size seen in the screenshot above.
I've taken care of most of Kyoto, and much of Osaka, but it's still a slow process to do a large area because I have to pan around looking for “fat” streets. If I zoom out too far, the tool exits editing mode and I can't see anything, so I have to be zoomed up, and just pan around.
Anyway, I'm tickeled that I could update the map editor. It's not the kind of programming I'm good at, and that they can build this kind of thing in a browser just boggles my mind. It garners appreciation that there are people out there much smarter than I, and that they donate their talents so freely.