There always was an idea in my mind to obtain some data from OSM and try to use it for interesting projects. However, it turned out to be not so easy to extract an exact piece of the motorways dataset. I think that many people could have a similar problem.

Main Source

The easiest way to download the data is through the Geofabrik website. I have downloaded and used pbf format which you should associate with map tiles. It is an extremely compressible format and thanks to that we can improve the quality of the data.


For extracting specific layers from 20 GB OSM file I have used FME and unfortunately, it wasn’t a short process and it lasted for about 10 hours. Under my scope, I took motorways, trunks and primary roads from OSM line geometries. After extract, I have performed a standard and non-standard cleaning, separating and joining the features.

During ArcGIS mapping process I noticed how extraordinary looking is the rendering or generating extracted roads. Above all, it tempted me to record a video of it, and here it is, 8x times faster than in reality:

Roads in Europe extracted from OSM. Blues are primary type, greens are trunks and yellow/orange are motorways.

Basemap and finishing

After that, I have performed a regular ArcGIS mapping where I had a couple of ideas. Eventually, it turned out that the best option is the main base map as a combination of world borders and shapes: oceans and lakes.

To fulfill the map with some information I exported it to Photopea online tool and arranged as you can see below. What’s more to be said, the information about motorways is obtained from Wikipedia page. The statistics on the left side of the map are targeting so called expressways: “Expressways¬†(controlled-access highways, freeways, motorways) are provided to high-speed vehicular traffic without at-grade¬†crossings except at the terminus. They are known by different names in various places.”

Motorways in European Countries.

I had a great and enjoyable work during this project. In other words, I feel that my FME skills are developing and it gives a percentage in extracting and creating valuable datasets. Thus, I hope that someone would find this motorway infographic map as a clever and enjoyable experience.

Links and sources