[Tagging] Sidewalks vs Footways

Serge Wroclawski emacsen at gmail.com
Thu Mar 17 18:17:14 GMT 2011

Based on this thread, there seems to be general consensus that the
term "sidewalk" is less linguistically ambiguous than footway.

Where folks are concerned about dual meaning, we can ensure that's
resolved via fixing the wiki, checking JOSM presets, and checking

Data consumers who are using either tag should be aware that neither
has been accepted, so they're using it at their own risk.

On Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 11:34 AM, Josh Doe <josh at joshdoe.com> wrote:
> Are we just talking about using "sidewalk" as indicated in the linked
> proposals? I've been mapping "sidewalks" in residential areas near me
> as individual ways; they usually run parallel to the road, but
> oftentimes are offset by a variable distance, plus I'd like to have
> very accurate routing. I've been tagging these as highway=footway,
> however when a way no longer parallels a road (and for my local area
> the surface almost always changes from concrete to asphalt) and goes
> into wooded areas, I start tagging the ways as highway=path.


There's nothing wrong, pe se, with that. I've gone back and forth on
whether that's the "right" way to go or not, and I think it's up to
individual mappers, but after considering it, I've decided I prefer
the road to be tagged for the following reasons:

1) It's less ways overall.  That's not normally a consideration I'd
consider important, but in this case, I'd say that the sidewalk is a
feature of the road, and therefore makes the map more useful.

2) Sidewalks are sometimes interrupted, but still logically connected.
An example of this would be a crosswalk. The sidewalk ends, but roads
continues, and the governance of whether a pedestrian can cross can be
placed at the intersection.

3) Making sidewalks a road feature aids the router. It lets the router
say things like "Walk along Main Street".

> If the term sidewalk is used for this proposal would it make sense to
> also apply it to individual ways?

Individual ways which are unassociated with a road are footways/paths,
and not sidewalks.

- Serge

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