[Tagging] Proposed definition for cycleways (was Re: bicycle=no)

Steve Bennett stevagewp at gmail.com
Mon Jan 4 12:42:50 GMT 2010

On Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 7:17 AM, Roy Wallace <waldo000000 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Err no. "highway=cycleway indicates that the used way is mainly or
> exclusively for bicycles"; "the route is designated for bicycles"
> (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:highway%3Dcycleway)
After much thought, I think I've finally decided that the definition I would
like for cycleway would be something like "the way is especially well suited
to use by bicycles". Forget what it was designed for, forget who it's used
by, all that matters is whether it is an efficient means for a bike to get a
reasonable distance and cannot be used by cars.

So, a footpath is not a cycleway, because it's not "especially well suited"
- it's only as well suited as your average footpath, by definition.

Things that make a cycleway well suited:
- good surface: smooth asphalt is better than compacted gravel
- smoothness: few bumps such as tree roots or kerbs
- gentle curves: few sharp turns
- signs or legislation giving priority to bicycles
- navigability: signs allowing a cyclist to follow the route for many

A cycleway doesn't have to have all the above, but it should have most. We
can perhaps argue about the minimum standard.

I would also like to propose some rules/guidelines for routers and
renderers, something like:
- the rendering difference between "highway=footpath bicycle=yes" and
"highway=cycleway" should be kept small, as the distinction is small
- routers should give strong preference to highway=cycleway over alternative
roads, and some smaller preference over highway=footway.

Corollaries of the above:
- Naming is almost irrelevant. "Foo bike path" is slightly more of a
cycleway than "Foo trail" but not much.
- Lack of bicycle signs or paint is not important, but counts for something.
- There could be some debate about the designation of an individual route,
but that's inevitable, and doesn't seem important.

Obviously I'm primarily thinking of the Australian context, but perhaps some
of the above would apply in other countries too?


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