[Tagging] [OSM-talk] Path vs footway vs cycleway vs...

Ben Laenen benlaenen at gmail.com
Sat Nov 28 14:09:19 GMT 2009

Steve Bennett wrote:
> On Sun, Nov 29, 2009 at 12:14 AM, Richard Fairhurst
> <richard at systemed.net> wrote:
> > highway=footway -> a path intended for pedestrian use
> > highway=cycleway -> a path intended for pedestrian and cycle use
> > highway=bridleway -> a path intended for pedestrian and horse use[1]
> Boy, I like this way of thinking. Of course, it must be controversial
> given the preceding comments, but it does make a lot of sense.

And at one time it was that easy in OSM, but the real world really isn't. In 
some countries it may work fine, but in other countries the distinction 
between the three has no connection with the actual situation and would 
introduce a number of ambiguities where you don't really know anymore whether 
something is allowed or not.

Take cycleways for example. Over here mopeds are allowed on paths that are 
signed as cycleway. Now, on the other hand we also had paths which weren't 
cycleways but allowed bicycles (but no mopeds) tagged as cycleway. Conflict 
between the two: would a route planner now allow mopeds on them or not? Sure, 
one could explicitly tag the moped=yes/no but (a) mappers forget about it, and 
(b) even if they don't, they often do not know the exact rules. And not 
forgetting that (c) traffic code isn't some static thing, it changes over time 
and what has been allowed on a certain path with certain signs, may not be in 

Hence the addition of highway=path was actually a welcome additional tag. Now 
we can tag the paths that are legal cycleways as highway=cycleway (and 
likewise for footpaths and bridleways), and other paths with the generic 
highway=path. The traffic signs on those paths can then be translated to 
access tags.


More information about the Tagging mailing list