[Tagging] Feature Proposal - RFC - Sidewalks as separate ways

Tobias Knerr osm at tobias-knerr.de
Fri Mar 25 09:04:12 GMT 2011

Serge Wroclawski wrote:
> With sidewalks as a separate way, you are now stuck with two unoptimal
> situations:
> a) The sidewalks have no road-associated data
> b) There is a relation

c) There is another method to associate the sidewalk with the highway.

For example, people (especially on talk-de, but I it has come up in the
international community at some points, iirc) have been repeatedly
discussing the possibility to draw highways as areas in addition to the
highway ways, as doing so is increasingly easy to do thanks to aerial
While the original reason for doing so is to more accurately represent
the shape of a highway surface than is possible with just a width tag,
it would also be an easy method of "bundling" a group of
lane/cycleway/sidewalk ways by simply drawing an area around the entire

That method would be free in terms of effort if you were going to map
the highway's area anyway (and when we discuss the benefits of drawing
sidewalks as separate ways, we are talking about mappers who want to map
barriers on sidewalks, lowered kerbs and sidewalk surfaces, after all).
It would also be more intuitive, because both areas and ways are
visually understandable concepts, unlike a relation.

I assume that this would therefore be easier to work with than
relations. For mappers, of course. It's not easier for applications, but
it still only requires operations (such as "is in" checks) that are
standard calculations when working with geodata.

> Personally, if people want to map sidewalks, I don't care about the
> method. This way may be more technically correct, but after having run
> mapping parties and taught mappers, I think we need to encourage
> simplicity.

sidewalk=* is the simplest solution for mapping the presence of
sidewalks. However, sidewalk ways are the simplest solution for also
mapping attributes and connectedness of sidewalks.

Tobias Knerr

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