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

Steve Bennett stevagewp at gmail.com
Tue Jan 5 02:45:47 GMT 2010

On Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 4:14 AM, Alex Mauer <hawke at hawkesnest.net> wrote:

> The definition given above doesn’t say anything about what it’s designed
> for.  Designated is not the same as designed.

Right, I'm not confusing the terms. Some people have used the word
"designed" in definitions, as in "designed for bicycles". That's all.

> > 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.
> Cannot be used legally, or physically?  Around here (Wisconsin, US) most
> designated bike paths are easily wide enough to allow a car to go on
> them.  It is illegal, however.

Legally. Although general practice (I believe) is that if a cycleway is
really wide enough for vehicles, and is used by *some* vehicles (ie,
maintenance ones) then it should be tagged "track" rather than cycleway.

> Your criteria for a “well-suited” cycle way are inapplicable to many
> cycleways.  One big example is mountain bike trails, which fail nearly
all of them: good surface, smoothness, gentle curves, signs giving
> priority to bicycles, and possibly navigability.  Yet they are cycleways
> nonetheless.  I realize that you said that a cycleway wouldn’t need to
> meet all of the criteria, but this is a pretty bad mismatch.

No, this is crucial. A mountain bike trail is *not* a cycleway. For all the
reasons you give. It has much more in common with a hiking path. This
realisation is part of what inspired my definition. When you see a cycleway
on a map, you should be able to use it on a normal bike to get somewhere. A
mountain bike trail would be a huge disappointment for the average cyclist.

> They are also so loose that nearly all paths would end up being
> classified as cycleway.  Certainly “your average footpath” meets them.

No...as I explained. I didn't specify exact minimum requirements, but I'm
presuming we would set the bar high enough that "your average footpath"
*doesn't* meet them. A cycleway is *better* than a footpath.

> If all but a few footways are classified as cycleways, it makes the
> distinction between the classifications nearly useless.

Right. That's the whole point of my definition. To make "cycleway" a
meaningful term which covers a small subset of walkable paths...those that
are especially well suited to cycling.

> > - 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.
> > Corollaries of the above:
> IMO, these are important ways to distinguish between them, given that,
> as you say, the physical difference are often otherwise small.
As a cyclist, would you rather be directed towards something labelled
"Johnson Creek Bike Path", which is covered with signs proclaiming it as a
bike path, or towards a flat, wide, smooth, high-grade asphalt path with
smooth corners that goes for many kilometres and has navigation signs all
the way along it? Think about it. What it's called doesn't really matter.
Whether it has signs doesn't really matter - except telling you for sure you
can ride on it.

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