If you have used Ride with GPS recently you may have noticed the newly added Surface Type feature which attempts to depict unpaved vs paved roads. For example:
The dashed portions of the route trace and elevation profile are unpaved road or trail.
Surface Type is encoded in the route file when the route is created or edited. So older routes may not contain Surface Type data, or only portions that were more recently updated will have this data.
Unfortunately this feature relies on, frankly stated, flaky data. From RwGPS:
We’re using imperfect data to infer the actual surface type of a route, but are striving to improve the quality of this data as folks like you submit inconsistencies. We’re excited about this new tool and will be constantly improving it so that we can provide a robust and reliable source of surface types.
We are utilizing surface data from Graphhopper (our routing engine from OSM and also the same one that all of our competitors use) that identifies surface types based on a number of variables (residential vs. highway, lane count, speed limits, rural vs urban as well as a few other factors) to provide any type of hint as what the surface of a path is. Truth be told, only ~10% of the world has actual surface-type data that is recorded on this source, so it’s a bit of a guessing game to get all results 100% right.
Right now, we’re inferring the surface type from the road classification. “Unclassified” roads are currently listed as paved in our Route Planner, this is likely why you are seeing some inconsistencies. In some cases we’ve found this to be the best option, in other cases, this is the wrong inference, so we’re trying to work through all those surface-type assumptions we are making to come up with the best solution.
At present it is very common to see improperly classified roads and trails.
If you are inclined to help improve surface classification, here is how:
1. You can update Surface Type information on OSM, which is the main source we pull from. Once Surface Type information is entered in OSM, it will be updated on our system within a few weeks. For more information on OSM Routing data as well as information on how to submit edits to OSM, check out the following link: https://ridewithgps.com/help/edit-routing-data
2. You can edit Surface Type data on any route – https://ridewithgps.com/help/surface-types#change-surface. This only updates surface-type information on your specific route.
I’ll emphasize the second option only changes the surface type in the route you are working on. Like other custom-edited items like manually added cues, it is lost if that portion of the route is resnapped.
From my perspective as a route developer and maintainer, this feature’s frequent glitches just add more work. You can turn it off in your personal account like so:
1. Log into your account on the website> Click More> Edit Profile (see image: https://s3.amazonaws.com/rwgps/screenshots/2021Mon16-26242.png)
2. Click RWGPS Labs> Toggle on or off to enable or disable (see image: https://s3.amazonaws.com/rwgps/screenshots/2021Mon16-27242.png).