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Road Editor's Manual
    Date first written: 2000.01.01     Last Review: 2017.05.29

Table of Contents
1. Preface
2. Editing Information Fields
3. Road Plans
4. Editing Road Names
5. Use Junction Codes at forks
6. Editing Waypoint Keywords
7. Digitizing from GMap using Draw and Save
8. Digitizing from GPS Track Log
9. Ouote Distance and LatLong in Road Bulletins
10. Highway Plans
11. Avoid Long Waypoint Comments

1. Preface
This document is the starting point for editors who want to work on the road infrastructure. The chapters are in the order of level of expertise. So it starts with notes about editing the information fields such as "Condition" and "How to Find". Then we move to editing the title of the road, and then how to edit individual road waypoints, and finally, some discussion of digitizing new roads and trails from GMap or GPS Track logs. See also Editor's Manual. See also Road Waypoints Syntax Quick Reference which is a quick reference to support the waypoints field help link. See also under road plans the documents such as Road Naming Standards.

2. Editing Information Fields
The simplest editing job is to update the information fields in the road record, such as "Condition", "General Route" or "How To Find". For any given field, see the "Help" notes on the update form. Periodically review the help notes, they are often updated.

Here are the fields to check:

  General Route
  How to Find

3. Road Plans
A "road plan" is a plan that discusses how a group of roads will be named and documented. If a road is part of a road plan, there will be a link at the top of the road page to it's road plan(s). See the road page for Ashlu Main and find the link to it's road plan.

There are several types of "road plan" -
  (1) Spur Naming Plans
  (2) highways
  (3) Trail networks

  1. Spur Naming Plans
     See Spur Names in Bivouac.

  2. Trail Networks
     Trail networks usually don't follow a "branch topology", so the "Road Plan" for groups of trails does not use any sort of distance based naming. For example the trails around Tetrahedron Plateau are named according to their destinations, etc. See Tetrahedron Plateau - Trail Naming Plan.

  3. Highway Routes
     Highways are a special problem because a given segment of road may be shared by two or more highway routes. For example, the section of the upper levels highway in Vancouver is part of both Highway 1 and Highway 99. The purpose of the Highway plans in Bivouac is just to put all the segments of a given route in order, so it is easy to check that the whole highway is done. A given Roadx record can be part of multiple plans. See the next chapter for these.

Here is a list of all the different road plans in the system Road Plan Lister.

4. Editing Road Names
If you want to edit the name of a road, be sure to look at the road plan.
 However, certain naming principles are common to all road plans. I call these "Road Plan Standards" These are documented in Road Naming Standards.

5. Use Junction Codes at forks
Marking certain junctions with a "junction code" such as Jct 26 makes it easier for someone else to revise the waypoints later. They also sometimes provide a convenient way to refer to a given junction. The junction code is made up of the 2nd decimal plase of the latitude and longitude. Eg: 49.123-100.456 becomes Jct 25. See Junction Codes.

Once you put in the "Jct" keyword into a road waypoint, it causes the GMap to display the km distance on the map. These are also handy for anybody writing bulletins - the author can just read the numbers off the map.

In addition to the junction code, you may want the name of the road forking off. Or something like "Jct 71 branch goes down to bridge"

6. Editing Waypoint Keywords
As you know, each waypoint in the waypoints field can contain a description. In some cases these descriptions contain special "keywords" that cause the system to display certain icons on the maps. For example, "BRIDGE_OUT" causes a red bridge symbol.

There are several groups of keywords such as BRIDGE_IN, BRIDGE_OUT, GATE_LOCKED, KP, etc. These should be updated by a road editor according to information in bulletins. For example, if you see that somebody has put in a bulletin that the bridge at km 14.3 is washed out, you can go into the waypoints field, and change BRIDGE_IN to BRIDGE_OUT. Or put in "BRIDGE_OUT" for the first time on an existing unlabelled waypoint.

In addition, there are "junction keywords" such as "Jct" and "fork" that cause a brown "info icon" to appear, with the km distance beside it.

This chapter is only an introduction to waypoint keywords, to see a complete list of the keywords and icons, see Road Waypoint Keywords Reference. Also see Test Road with bridges and gates and push the "GMap" link to see all the icons on an actual road. And there is also a table of icon groups which describes the behaviour of each icon at GMap Icon Behaviour.

Now we can discuss general guidelines. Our main concern is to end up with good looking maps, that do not have multiple icons overlapping. It is useful to tell you a bit about how the road display program works. The road display program opens each road record, then loops through the waypoints, looking for certain keywords. For example, when it sees Bridge_Out, it tells GMap to put out a bridge_Out icon, and it labels it with the km distance from the beginning of the road. Thus the reader can refer to "the bridge at +5.6. km".

In addition to the obvious keywords, there is a special keyword called "KP" which causes a brown "info icon" to appear. (and a km distance). These are used to mark things like trail heads, or any other important feature. Not all the keywords are deliberate. The program also looks for certain words like "Jct" and "Fork" which also cause brown "infoPoint" icons to appear.

Not all icons are directly caused by keywords. In particular, the green "road title" markers are program generated. The program keeps internal distance counters and tries to put out a title marker every km. It tries to put them out on the first free waypoint in each new km. In order that these markers fall as close as possible to km boundaries, it is helpful when digitizing to put waypoints at km boundaries. When digitizing from GMap, keep an eye on the "Route Distance" in the lower right corner.

7. Digitizing from GMap using Draw and Save
One of the most common methods to get road waypoints is to digitize from satellite photos in GMap. The general idea is to display GMap, change to satellite view, choose "Draw and Save" from the menu, then "" the points. When you are done, right click on any one of the points, click on "Bivouac Waypoints" and copy and paste them to the Road record.

For details, see GMap Draw and Save.

  1. How many Points?
     Roads visible on satellite should have enough waypoints so that the resulting line is within 20 meters of the road. The 20 meters is called the "tolerance". You want the minimum number of points, because excess points cause performance problems in both GMap and the polygon operations.

    A line with a 20m tolerance will usually be within 2% of the actual distance and only change by 1% by putting in more points. In other words, a fork at 10 km should only change to something like 9.8 km no matter how many points you put in. I've found that the 1:50 map is often off by more than 20m. And I've found that my GPS track logs are often off by 20m when I come back down the same road. So 20m is as good as you can get.

  2. Waypoint Change Record
     Once you have saved the new Roadx record, go to the new road page, and put in a "Waypoint Changes Record". (The insert link is below the bulletins). These can often just be 3 or for words such as "Digitized from satellite". The main thing is to have a permanent record of where the waypoints came from and when they were changed. So a typical road might have one waypoint change record on the date it was created, which says that the waypoints were created from Gmap satellite, and then two years later, another change record that says part of it was redigitized from GPS.
     If you have actually been to the road, you should also put in a regular road bulletin. The road bulletin discusses the condition of the road, as opposed to digitizing issues. Don't be afraid to duplicate the description of the road that you put into the road record itself, because later some other editor might overwrite your original description in the road record, but it will still be preserved in your bulletin.

8. Digitizing from GPS Track Log
If you have a GPS track log of a road or trail, here is how to get Bivouac waypoints. The basic idea is to use "Draw and Save" to trace your raw gpx file on GMap. See GMap Draw and Save Why is it necessary to trace it? Tracing allows you to label the key waypoints. Tracing allows you to greatly reduce the number of points in a track log. Reducing the number of points is important, both for performance of the Bivouac website, and also for performance of someone's GPS when they download a .gpx file containing dozens of roads and trails via the Gpx20 link.

Tracing handles all the problems of track logs that cover more than one road or trail, since you just trace each part separately.

  1. Junction Labels
     In particular, as of 2015, we now label every junction with a two letter junction number, based on its lat-long. Eg; A junction at 52.456,120.222 would be Jct 52. See Junction Codes.

  2. Waypoint Accuracy
     Typically GPX files are accurate to within 20 meters of the true location of the trail. Therefore, I usually set the "Waypoint Accuracy" field to 20m.

  3. Waypoint Changes bulletin
     Whether you are improving an existing trail, or inserting a new one, be sure an insert a "waypoint changes" bulletin. Future editors want to know where the waypoints came from.

9. Ouote Distance and LatLong in Road Bulletins
As has been mentioned, road waypoints can use special keywords such as "Fork", "Jct" or "KP" to cause a brown square to appear beside the waypoint. Similarly Bridge_In, Gate_Locked, etc. as a general standard, we try and use one of the junction keywords (Jct or Fork) for every fork. That makes it easy for members to read the mileage on the GMap and use it in bulletins. It is important to not use one of the junction keywords at the start of a road, because it would only be km 0, and the printing would overwrite the actual mileage on the parent road. So the description at the start of a spur should say "turn off road xxx" and thus avoid saying "jct with Highway 99"

If the roads are correctly set up with the forks, then anyone writing a bulletin can quote the mileage of the fork. Eg: The fork at 24.1 km. In addition, you can get the approximate mileage of any point on the road by hovering the mouse over one of the green "road number" icons. There is usually a road number icon about every km (but not exactly).

Road bulletins should quote the km distance, but should also quote the lat-long in brackets. Eg: km 24 (

The road is smooth for approximately the first 19 km (49.7348,-121.6228) and then the road becomes rougher and has a few rocky sections where low clearance vehicles would suffer. Eventually you get to the fork at Km 24 (49.7391,-121.6873). At this fork, the left fork is the Spuzzum Southside rd. The right fork is the continuation of the Spuzzum road, but it is deactivated beyond that

10. Highway Plans
Highway plans are a type of "Road Plan" which link together all the segments of a given highway. (as opposed to linking a cluster of trails into a plan). Eg: BC-16 Highway Plan. The purpose of the highway plan is to manage all the segments of the highway, such that you can see them listed in order from start to finish. Each "segment" of the highway has a start and end point. Eg: "Prince Rupert to Terrace". By inspecting the highway plan you can make sure there are no missing pieces. You can also inspect the accuracy field for each segment. As of 2016 November, most BC and Alberta highway segments are now digitized to an accuracy of within 100m.

It is desirable to list the segments of each highway in order, to make it easy to work on them. This is done with "section codes". Every highway plan has numerous section code records such as A1, A2, A3, B1. The tricky part of the data model is that some "segments" are used by more than one highway. The same segment has two different section codes. For example the stretch of road between Terrace and Kitwanga is BC-37 section B1, and BC-16 section B2. What happens is that BC-37 north comes up from Kitimat and merges with BC-16 eastbound, and both highways overlap till Kitwanga, when BC-37 north splits off from BC-16 east.

The section records are actually called PlanLink records, because each planlink record links a segment to a plan. A segment can be linked to two or three different plans.

Initially the different segments themselves had names to put them in order. For example "Highway 16 - Section A3". However such a data model cannot handle overlapping sections, because the name has to reflect both highways. So we now call the segment "BC-16/BC-37" and have two separate section records, one linking it to each highway. What happens is that BC-37 north comes up from Kitimat and merges with BC-16 eastbound, and both highways overlap till Kitwanga, when BC-37 north splits off from BC-16 east.

  1. Names of Canadian highway
     Canadian highways are just a number, prefixed with 2 letters for the province. Eg: eg: BC-99 or BC-16 or BC-1. Note that in Canada, we break up inter-provincial highways according to provinces, and they may not always have the same number. Eg: The Trans Canada highway is BC-1 and AB-1, but becomes Highway 17 (ON-17) in Ontario.

  2. US Highways
     In the USA, the highways in any state can have one of three prefixes:

      US Eg: US-66
      I Eg: I-5 Interstate
      xx Eg: WA-20 (State Route) Prefix depends on the state
    Note that many websites in Washington refer to the "state routes" with the prefix "SR", whereas we would use "WA".

  3. Section Codes
     Every section has a code which defines it's sequence in a given highway. The simplest would be just one big list of numbers covering the whole highway such as segment 1, 2,3,4,5... However the problem is that when you have to insert a new segment, you have to renumber every other segment. So we have a system of letter then numbers. Eg: Segment A1, A2, A3, B1, B2. Furthermore the letters are useful for discussing major stretches of the highway in the Highway plan. The rule is that any time there is a complicated junction, I start a new letter. For example, BC-97 says that section C ends at Monte creek, and then section D runs concurrent to the trans Canada highway. Note that section "D" is actually made up of three segments, but the letter "D" puts them into a set.

  4. Direction of description: South to North, West to east
     In Canada, our standard is to describe all north-south highways starting in the south. And all east-west highways starting from the west. In USA, we go north to south, and west to east.

  5. Section and Segment
     We use "section code" to refer to the 2 letter code that keeps the sections in order on the highway plan. Eg: A1, A2, B1 and so on. We use the word "segment" to refer to the actual road record. Eg: Section B2 of highway BC-16 goes from Terrace to Kitwanga. That same "segment" is section B1 in the BC-37 highway plan.

  6. Overlap titles
     The title of any shared segment such as Terrace to Kitwanga contains both highway codes separated by a slash. eg: "BC-16/BC-37". By convention we put the lowest number highway first.

  7. Short Segments
     Note that in order for segments to be used by multiple highways, the road record must start and end at the junctions where the highways merge and split. In some cases where two highways cross each other but only run concurrent for 1 km or so, it is simpler just to digitize the common piece into both highways.

  8. Wikipedia page
     Wikipedia has excellent descriptions of every highway in both Canada and USA. Eg: British Columbia Highway 6.

  9. Segment titles are not unique
     All the segments of a given highway will just have the title of the highway. Eg: BC-16 has about 20 segments, all with the title "BC-16" the most common way you can tell the difference is with the start and end points. Or look at the Bivouac roadxId itself.

  10. Start and End Point Names (Town names)
     Every start and end point of a highway segment has a placename. Eg: One segment is "Terrace to Kitwanga" and then the next segment is "Kitwanga to Hazelton". These placenames allow us to describe the segments. Usually these placenames are the nearest town. However in some cases, we have to use creek names. The rule is some name that appears on the map. Some junctions are a real challenge finding a suitable name. Eg: The key junction where BC-37 hits the Alaska highway, the nearest town is Watson Lake, which is 25 km away. It is desirable to have a placename that can also be shown on the map. So in this case, I had to use the name "Nugget" since it is the nearest thing printed on the map, so I put in a "town" record called Nugget. In other cases I've revised where the segments break so I hit a town

  11. Merger Words (merge, split and direction)
     At every intersection where two highways merge or split, we make a note in the waypoints. I initially tried to just use one word: "Merge" or split. Let's start with a simple example: the segment that runs between Terrace and Kitwanga. There are three waypoints that would mention that:

      BC-37 Kitimat to Terrace last wp 37 north merges with 16 west
      BC-16 Rupert to Terrace last wp 37 north merges with 16 west
      16/37 Terrace to Kitwanga first wp 37 north merges with 16 west
    Or you could say "start 37-16 overlap" and at the other end, "End 16/37 overlap".

    The above would make sense no matter what set of waypoints you were reading. A more complex merge/split is one where the merging highway runs counterflow to the way the waypoints are digitized. For example at Monte creek 97 north merges with highway 1 west. So the last waypoint of 97 can say "merges with 1 west". That is better than "start shared segment" because it tells you the direction. The last waypoint of BC-1 Kamloops to Monte can say: BC-97 splits off south. And the first waypoint of BC-1 Monte to Chase can say BC-97 splits. "Start" and "End" would work on the shared segment, with "End 97"

  12. Counterflow marked with "x"
     Note that in the Monte creek case, highway 97 merges with Highway 1, but then goes west rather than east. So the highway plan and waypoints don't read in the correct order.

    BC-97 Highway Plan

      C2 BC-97 Westwold to Monte
      D1-x BC-1/BC-97 Kamloops to Monte
    Ideally if you were trying to read the list of segments, each segment would start where the previous left off. Eg: Westwold to Monte, then "Monte to Kamloops".

  13. Disjoint sections
     There are a few highways that are not continuous. Eg: AB-40 there is no signed connection between where Kananaskis Trail and the Forestry Trunk road. The intention is that someday the whole highway will be one continuous paved highway.

  14. Forks on same highway
     Thankfully there are very few cases where two little forks have the same highway number. For example in Port Hardy, Google shows BC-19 having two forks: one goes to the ferry terminal and the other into town.

  15. Alternate Names
     Many highways have one or more alternate names for parts of them. For example, BC-97 starts out as the Okanagan Highway, till it merges with highway 1. But then at Cache Creek becomes "Caribou Highway". North of Prince George it is "John Hart highway". This is a case where there are several names within one highway. The opposite is also true, where a name like "Yellowhead Route" or Trans Canada Highway is used across several provinces.

    In some cases, I repeat the name in every segment, and in other cases, only mention it in the plan.

  16. Start and End Names repeated in Waypoints
     The start and end name of each segment should be in the waypoints. This allows you to glance at the waypoints and make sure the start and end names are correct. It makes it easy to reorganize the segments.

11. Avoid Long Waypoint Comments
Waypoint comments should just be short names for the points, not multiline descriptions. The limit should be 80 characters. If you want more complete descriptions of waypoints, write a chronological description of the road in the main description field, and include the special "point of interest" paragraph at the proper place, along with it's LatLong. The paragraph should refer to the feature by a name which the reader can find in the actual waypoints.

 - to make it easier to redigitize
 - make computer waypoint list more concise and readable
 - make GPS display more readable

Early in Bivouac history, editor Mike Cleven experimented with extensive paragraphs for some waypoints. Some of them were "tour guide" type comments, pointing out every little driveway. Occasionally he'd have a useful comment. But all these comments make it very difficult to redigitize the waypoints. To preserve the descriptions, a few of these paragraphs have been moved to the main description.

See Hayward Lake Railway Trail