[Tagging] what is the meaning of bicycle=yes on highway=path

Volker Schmidt voschix at gmail.com
Fri Apr 12 16:05:43 UTC 2019

"an armchair mapper should add access=unknown to the tagging"
> I certainly don't do this when mapping from aerial imagery, and
> neither of the editors that I've used (ID and JOSM) have suggest
> adding "access=unknown" to a newly mapped path.

Thinking about this, I would say it's wrong. When you armchair-map a
motorway and are using recent satellite photos you cn see crs on the
road.hence you can rightly assume that it is a motorway with the default
legal access values of the country.
What you cannot do is make a statement about the legal access right for
bicycles on that motorway. (at least in the USA). For that you need
additional information.

At the other end of the scale is the path which in many countries has the
default legal access for humans, bicycles, and horse riders.
To decide on access rights here is a lot trickier, when armchair mapping.
You can use GPX tracks, where available, to see if anyone has used the
path, but you will have difficulty to distinguish between the three means
of transport. Only if you have street-level images can you expect to
correctly deduce the legal usage rights.

My understanding is that highway=path is rather problematic if there
> are no additional tags, because it's not clear if all paths are open
> to bicycles or horses. See
> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Path_controversy

This page is not terribly useful, a it mixes legal and physical access

Conclusion: there are highways that are more suitable for armchair mapping
of access rights. path, footway, track, and service are certainly
problematic from that point of view.

Going back to my starting point, I see two things that we should try to
push for
1) convince Andy Allan to change the rendering of OCM so that  a path with
bicycle=yes will not be rendered any more in the same way a s a cycleway.
It should rendered as a path for pedestrians.
2) we may strongly encourage the use of mtb=yes|permissive for paths we are
shure that they are open to MTB, possibly with the mtb:scale values as well.

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