I'm trying to write a query that will return all OSM ways which are contained within a bounding box of min/max gps coordinates.

I get these cooridinates from the greater london bounding box on http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Bounding_Box

From googling I have this query, but it doesn't return any results:

FROM planet_osm_roads 
WHERE ST_Contains( 
            ST_Point(0.3340155, 51.2867602), ST_Point(-0.5103751, 51.6918741)

Any idea what I'm doing wrong?


So I've swapped the points around, tested that the polygon created is what I expect by getting the geometry as geojson and visualising it on geojson.io - it looks fine, however I still get 0 results and it happens basically instantly (which seems weird). The table is definitely fully populated! I also changed to use ST_Intersects but that hasn't made it return anything either

FROM planet_osm_roads 
WHERE ST_Intersects(
    ST_Point(0.3340155, 51.2867602),
            ST_Point(-0.5103751, 51.6918741)

It gives me this GeoJSON when I SELECT ST_AsGeoJSON

  "type": "Polygon",
  "coordinates": [
      [-0.5103751, 51.2867602],
      [-0.5103751, 51.6918741],
      [0.3340155, 51.6918741],
      [0.3340155, 51.2867602],
      [-0.5103751, 51.2867602]

Which as I said, looks correct on geojson.io :)

Update #2

I've copied a query from another SO question that gets the closest point on a road or something, with a point in London, it returns some results roughly as I expect

 ST_X(ST_ClosestPoint(ST_Transform(r.way, 4326), point.geom)),      
 ST_Y(ST_ClosestPoint(ST_Transform(r.way, 4326), point.geom)),
 ST_Distance_Sphere(ST_ClosestPoint(ST_Transform(r.way, 4326), point.geom), point.geom)
  planet_osm_roads r,
  (Select ST_SetSRID(ST_MakePoint(-0.1367229, 51.5377733), 4326) as geom) point


41383228;"trunk";"Camden Street";"A400";-0.137183850111055;51.5373791549638;54.195918203
253353304;"primary";"Royal College Street";"A5202";-0.13568782069246;51.538616921758;118.002625807
17513372;"primary";"Royal College Street";"A5202";-0.134746843460286;51.5374616146768;140.996741591
166369355;"primary";"Royal College Street";"A5202";-0.136110935219222;51.5391336013284;157.068830304
253352352;"primary";"Royal College Street";"A5202";-0.136578148998492;51.5397000983131;214.484260552
6247747;"primary";"Pratt Street";"A503";-0.140021211819466;51.5376420920654;228.588127843
211950233;"primary";"Bayham Street";"A503";-0.140021211819466;51.5376420920654;228.588127843
253350830;"primary";"St. Pancras Way";"A5202";-0.135177855133607;51.5396274637255;232.22039167
11266300;"primary";"Royal College Street";"A5202";-0.136734905015571;51.5398841985372;234.722999647
253350834;"primary";"St Pancras Way";"A5202";-0.135399101773244;51.5397738652997;240.557396864

The point is actually closest to Mandela Street which runs next to Camden Street, but I'll worry about that after I have my initial query working.

My data came from download england osm data and running this command:

osm2pgsql --create --database england_osm -C 6144 ~/Downloads/england-latest.osm


  • 1
    Swap the two points in ST_MakeBox2D? Doc says the first point should be the lower left one.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 22:28
  • 1
    @mkennedy. The docs do say that, but it makes no difference, in practice. Check out, select st_astext(st_makebox2d(st_makepoint(50,50), st_makepoint(5,5)) ); Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 23:36
  • What Christopher says is true, but I am surprised that no roads are contained in a polygon covering all of London -- I hope so, I'm going there in a few hours by bus :D. The query looks fine, so perhaps you could post a couple of rows of the actual geometry values? Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 23:41
  • Thanks guys, I've updated with observations from your comments :) Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 10:58
  • Would you be able to provide the link the you got england-latest.osm from, so we are dealing with the same data. I fancy loading osm for the UK and might have some insights after doing so. Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 17:02

3 Answers 3


The query looks good but if you want all ways which are partly in a bounding box you have to use the st_intersects function.

If you want to show the error of your defined bounding box and you don't have any software you can put you bounding box in an ST_AsGeoJson function to get an geojson string as result. The easiest way to check your geometry is to enter the geojson result in an online viewer like http://geojson.io/

  • Thanks, useful tool! I've changed to ST_Intersects but still no luck! Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 10:58

So, it was because I hadn't specified that points should be stored in latitude and longitude when running osm2pgsql.

The command I used successfully was

osm2pgsql -c -l -s -d england_osm ~/Downloads/england-latest.osm.pbf
  • Ha ha. Good lesson. I have made similar mistakes so many times Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 14:01
-- roads inside bounding box
SELECT l.osm_id
FROM planet_osm_line l,
    SELECT ST_Transform(ST_MakeEnvelope(min_x, min_y, max_x, max_y, 4326),3857) AS box
    FROM (
             least(x1, x2)    AS min_x,
             greatest(x1, x2) AS max_x,
             least(y1, y2)    AS min_y,
             greatest(y1, y2) AS max_y
           FROM (SELECT
                   :lon1 AS x1, 
                   :lon2 AS x2,
                   :lat1  AS y1,
                   :lat2  AS y2) cr
         ) r) bb
WHERE l.way && bb.box -- intersection (use @ for contain)
  and l.highway IS NOT NULL;

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