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API usage policy

CycleStreets is keen to see widespread use of our API, particularly for mobile use. This policy governs acceptable use and our limitation policy. As an organisation run on a not-for-profit basis run from relatively small amounts of income, our server resources are to some extent limited. However, we aim to provide as full and professional a service as possible, and we are continually improving the routing quality and adding new features.

Where a contract has been signed, the terms of the contract take precedence over requirements here.

If you have any questions or concerns on any of these points, please do us contact us. We are prepared to be flexible where possible.

    API availability

  1. An API license key is required to make use of our API.
  2. License keys are granted at our option and are issued on a first-come, first-served basis in accordance with hosting capacity.
  3. Both open and closed source systems are welcome to make use of our API. There is no requirement for you to open source your code because of using our system.
  4. Both free and commercial systems are welcome to make use of our API.
  5. API use is intended for genuine user requests (and testing associated with development of an application). If you wish to use it for bulk purposes (e.g. for cycling accessibility analysis), please contact us to discuss consultancy options.
  6. We reserve the right to withdraw API license keys where abuse is detected. However, we will always contact the API keyholder in advance and discuss issues with them.
  7. API users are given access to a control panel [available shortly] where their usage metrics are displayed. Data from this control panel is also available via the API itself [available shortly].
  8. Unused license keys may be removed after 3 months of inactivity. We will check with the API keyholder that they are not intending to use the key.
  9. Free usage

  10. No charge is made for use of the API. Exceptions to this are noted below.
  11. As an organisation run on a not-for-profit basis, donations towards the upkeep of the system are welcome (without obligation).
  12. We offer the option to pay for an assured quality level beyond a certain amount of route-planning. At present this threshold is 10,000km of route planning per day for free apps, and 5,000km per day for paid apps. [These figures are early estimates and may be revised upwards shortly.] Typical route scenarios based on these figures are shown in the appendix to this document. These figures are measured as as-the-crow-flies distance route planning per day, calculated on a monthly basis. This figure is likely to increase over time as the routing engine is developed. In the unlikely event that these figures have to be reduced, we will inform our API users as soon as possible with the aim of restoring this level once more capacity has been found; in practice, this situation should not occur because we issue new license keys in line with hosting capacity.
  13. Applications involving automated re-planning while following a route

  14. Mobile applications whose feature-set involves route planning with automated and regular re-planning during a route (i.e. a SatNav-style application) require use of a Premier License Key.
  15. Premier License Keys require payment, charged on a per-user-lifetime basis, i.e. a fixed sum for each copy of the app sold. This payment is required because this form of route planning places considerably higher load on our server resources.
  16. Uptime

  17. Since launching the system nationally in March 2009 we have had a high level of uptime (over 99%), which we aim to maintain. There have been some brief periods of downtime, but we are usually able to quickly restore the system to full operation once a problem has been detected.
  18. Maintenance which requires taking the site temporarily off-line is usually carried out between midnight and 8am UK time. Interruptions between these times should still be rare.
  19. Obligations

  20. You must mention in your application that routes are based on OpenStreetMap data, which is data released under the Open Database License. Please ensure you have read and understand this license. For further information, see
  21. Your application must mention in the credits (or elsewhere in the body of the application) that routing is provided by CycleStreets and include a link to You are welcome to include our logo [download a copy here] if you wish.
  22. Like any automated routing engine, routing quality cannot be guaranteed, although we make best efforts to give suitable routes for cyclists. Routes are to be followed by users at their own risk. We advise that applications should consider using a click-through, perhaps on first use, to advise the user that they follow the routes provided at their own risk.
  23. Where user contributions (principally photographs/videos from the Photomap) are displayed, you are required to display the associated attribution/copyright data supplied by the API.
  24. We expect mobile application developers to take reasonable steps to ensure that their mobile interface cannot be run via a desktop browser in a way which would lead to large amounts of spurious route planning, i.e. be used for a DoS (denial of service) type attack. We reserve the right to suspend usage from individual client devices where evidence of such attacks arises. Again, this will be discussed with the API keyholder.
  25. Feedback

  26. API users are encouraged to include a feedback mechanism in their app so that users can give feedback to us about planned route quality, even if this is only a ‘good/bad route button’. An API method is provided for this [available shortly].
  27. Changes to the API and deprecation policy

  28. We are always willing to consider changes to the output format of the API, as we aim to provide optimised output where possible. Please contact us if you have any suggestions.
  29. We welcome the opportunity to undertake consultancy work to implement more complex changes, for instance specialised options such as customised routing modes. Please contact us if you wish to discuss possibilities.
  30. API keyholders are subscribed to an API users announcement e-mail list. Changes to the API are announced via this list.
  31. It is our intention to continue to support API parameters and output formats from the time they are published onwards. If, in exceptional cases, we need to withdraw particular aspects of the published API that we know are in use, we will give developers a minimum of two months’ notice.
  32. We encourage developers to migrate to the latest stable API specification as we roll out changes, so that we can phase out deprecated options more easily.
  33. User privacy

  34. Our privacy policy applies for use of the API.
  35. Our privacy policy notes that server logs have standard IP default logging enabled for the purposes only of site security. If this problematic for your uses, you are welcome to proxy requests via your own server(s), so that we only see the IP of your server(s).

    Our use of funds raised

  36. Any income generated as a result of API use is used towards development and improvement of the system, in line with the not-for-profit clause in the governing documents of CycleStreets Ltd, and to ensure that our hosting capacity caters for the traffic generated by API users.

Appendix: journey length scenarios

10,000km of journey planning is equivalent to:

Scenario Probable average km per route How many in quota % of quota per planned route
Short, in-town route 1km 10,000 0.01%
City route 3km 3,333 0.03%
Cross-city route 6km 1,667 0.06%
Long-distance route 50 km 200 0.50%
London cycle hire routes 2km 5,000 0.02%
Entire diameter of London 35km 286 0.35%

5,000km of journey planning is equivalent to:

Scenario Probable average km per route How many in quota % of quota per planned route
Short, in-town route 1km 5,000 0.02%
City route 3km 1,667 0.06%
Cross-city route 6 km 833 0.12%
Long-distance route 50km 100 1.00%
London cycle hire routes 2km 2,500 0.04%
Entire diameter of London 35km 143 0.70%

Policy introduced: August 2010;
minor amendment re OSM license February 2013;
update privacy section to refer to main policy September 2020

We welcome your feedback, especially to report bugs or give us route feedback.

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