[Tagging] Proposed definition for cycleways

Greg Troxel gdt at ir.bbn.com
Mon Jan 4 13:23:01 GMT 2010

Steve Bennett <stevagewp at gmail.com> writes:

> 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
> kilometres
> 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?

The point of a map is to convey something to the user, and so the
question is what most people want to know, and how to encode that with a
relatively small number of terms.  So, I think your definition is
something that boils down to "would someone call this a bike path or a
walkway", but that having a list of properties is helpful.

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