The osmar-package enables you to retrieve all geographic elements of OpenStreetMap via its API.
I.e., you can retrieve a street, river, state-boundary or whatever and use this as a spatial object in R.
It’s overwhelming thinking of the endless playground that is opened for R-users by this package!
And, owing to altruistic R-package authors (like the ones of osmar, Thomas Schlesinger and Manuel J. A. Eugster) the oligarch’s (ESRI) power evermore crumbles away..