[Tagging] difference between cycletrack and cycleway

Sander Deryckere sanderd17 at gmail.com
Mon Apr 18 14:31:43 BST 2011

This mail is about the different (and incompatible) usages of the tag

When the OSM data is less complete, the tag combination
is used. For a road with a cycleway.

This means that there is a track next to the road that has to be used for
cycling. When you want to be more precise, you can map 2 (or 3) ways and tag
the highway as
and the cycle tracks next to it as

The problem with this tagging method is that the tag "highway=cycleway" is
now used for two completely different features. A cycle track next to a road
is something completely different from a cycleway where there is no other
traffic around.

from the bicycle routers point of view:
with the less complete date, a primary road is avoided (even when it has a
cycleway) in favor of a quiet (unclassified) road. When the data becomes
more complete, the primay way suddenly becomes "better" than the

For the rendering, different rendering between a cycletrack and a cycleway
should be possible.


the first sollution that you might think of is "use a relation". You could
use a relation and relate the cycletrack to its road. This method has
serveral drawbacks:

   - it's not easy to use relations as a beginner
   - a way can be split in many parts, so the relation would have many
   members which makes it difficult to maintain. What about the point where one
   way goes over in another?
   - it is a lot of work to add a relation for such a simple problem

The second sollution could be "add a tag". The wiki says that adding
"cycleway=track" is redundant when you use
But you could use this tag to note that it's next to a car road. But this is
not optimal:

   - adding a tag always costs some work
   - the tag is not so clear

So the sollution "create a new tag" comes to the mind. I believe this is the
preferred sollution, but* I ask your input about what the tag would be*. We

   - create one new tag and leave "highway=cycleway" for the solitaire
   cycleway (which is the most used type).
   - or create two new tags for the different ways. This makes it easy to
   deprecate the old highway=cycleway tag and replace them by new.

I look forward to all reactions.
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