[Tagging] Reference numbers for UK Public Rights of Way

David Groom reviews at pacific-rim.net
Sun Aug 22 17:52:20 BST 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Robert Whittaker (OSM)" <robert.whittaker+osm at gmail.com>
To: <tagging at openstreetmap.org>
Sent: Sunday, August 22, 2010 2:49 PM
Subject: [Tagging] Reference numbers for UK Public Rights of Way

> The official record of UK Public rights of Way (Public Footpaths,
> Bridleways, Restricted Byways, and Byways Open to all Traffic) in each
> UK County is maintained by the corresponding County Council. They
> typically assign a number to each Right of Way (or segment thereof),
> with the numbers being unique only within each Civil Parish. The
> complete reference given to a given route by the County Council might
> look something like this:
> Bredon FP 17
> where the first part is the Parish, the "FP" denotes footpath (Other
> codes would be BR, RB, BY if I recall correctly) and the number is
> unique within the parish (ie there's no BR 17 if there's a FP 17 in
> the same parish, but there will be other 17's in different parishes).
> To completely specify the path within the UK, you'd also need to
> include the County name too.
> Assuming the information on rights of way is available under a
> suitable license, it would be good to tag the ways with the reference
> numbers somehow. In particular this would aid checking for completion
> and errors in other tagging attributes.
> I've seen a few different ways of tagging this information, including
> using the name and ref keys, and including more or less of the
> information from the line above. So do people have any suggestions for
> a common standard for this tagging?
> * Should name=* or ref=* be used as the/a key?
> * Should the whole line be in one tag, or would it be better to split
> the number and parish apart for processing  and searching ease?
> * Is the "FP" etc code necessary, given that the information will
> (should) already be in the designation=* tag?
> * Is the parish necessary, as this could be derived from the location?
> (Although we don't have parish boundaries in at present.)
> * Should we include the county? This is necessary for a complete
> numbering system, but again could be derived (albeit painfully) from
> the boundary data if required.
> One option would be to have
> highway=*
> designation=public_footpath
> ref=Bredon FP 17
> At the other end of the scale we could have something more like
> highway=*
> designation=public_footpath
> county=Worcestershire
> parish=Bredon
> ref=17
> There's potentially a problem with using ref=* because of the way it's
> interpreted by the renderers for road highways. It's quite possible
> for a public right of way to run along a road, though much less likely
> for primary, secondary, or tertiary roads. Maybe ukprow:ref=* would be
> better?
> (To complicate things slightly, at least one county I know of seems to
> have recently renumbered their paths using a county-wide scheme, so
> the Parish no longer plays a part, and each number is unique within
> the county.)
> Anyway, your thoughts would be welcome.
On the Isle of Wight Footpaths are referenced by a "parish code" and then a 
number.  [1].  On many of the footpath / bridleway/byway signs these are 
clearly marked

Where these are marked on the signs I've used these as follows

ref = BB9

I've not used name, because some of these paths also have names  eg 


> Thanks,
> Robert.
> -- 
> Robert Whittaker

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