[Tagging] path vs footway

Martin Koppenhoefer dieterdreist at gmail.com
Tue Nov 4 09:48:25 UTC 2014

2014-11-03 23:38 GMT+01:00 Mike Thompson <miketho16 at gmail.com>:

> Nearly all trails in this area have been tagged
> "highway=footway" although most of them are open equally to foot
> traffic and horse traffic. Any reason to leave them as "footways"?

You can (IMHO) change them to path.

To give some historical background: initially there were only footways,
cycleways and bridleways in OSM, and the suggestion then was to use the tag
for the "higher"/"more important" means of transport and eventually add
additional ones (e.g. cycleway and foot=yes). Then it was argued that there
is no preferred/higher/more important means of transport on a general
purpose way for single tracked vehicles (nor is there on a shared
cycle-pedestrian way), so highway=path was introduced, allowing all means
of unmotorized transport equally by default and allowing to override the
exclusion of motorized vehicles (e.g. snowmobiles, motorcycles).

This new path tag was designed so generically that it was in theory able to
replace the well introduced tags footway, cycleway and bridleway by adding
additional access tags to the path (e.g. path and foot=designated equals
footway). In practise people continued to use in these cases (way dedicated
to one means of transport) the well introduced simple tags like footway,
while they adopted path for ways that can be generically used or that allow
more than one means of transport equally (something like highway=footway,
bicycle=yes still has its place, e.g. for spots where pedestrians have the
right of way but bicycles are allowed when driving carefully).

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