[Tagging] Highway=rest_area on bicycle or foot routes ?

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Sun Jan 3 20:03:47 UTC 2021

On Jan 1, 2021, at 1:27 PM, Paul Johnson <baloo at ursamundi.org> wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 1, 2021 at 10:31 AM Stefan Tauner <stefan.tauner at gmx.at> wrote:
> On Fri, 1 Jan 2021 17:17:10 +0100
> Volker Schmidt <voschix at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Can we use highway=rest_area on foot ro cycle routes.
> > I am talking about dedicated spaces with benches, (sometimes) tables,
> > (sometimes) information panels.No food sold, no restaurant, no toilet.
> > An example <https://www.mapillary.com/map/im/2e2tV7cWmqBYZQ_4dDHoJw> along
> > an ex-railway (reconverted ex.platform).
> > 
> > We have them frequently here as they are mandatory on new cycle routes. SO
> > fr I only mapped (sometimes) the bench or table or panel, but not the area.
> I don't see why not.  In my region, there's more rest areas on cycleways than highways.

In California, our DOT (Caltrans) sponsors dozens of these (88 at last count, though that quantity includes many of them "on both sides of the highway" as two locations, so the actual number of "areas where there are Rest Area services" is lower, though still in the dozens).

These have a wide variety of services and here are fairly well-tagged.  In the context of Volker's question, highways where bicycles are allowed to travel (usually where the desolation of the highway makes it the only method of travel through the area, so at least there is a shoulder for a cyclist to ride upon as high-speed vehicular traffic whizzes by) certainly DO allow (perhaps even encourage!) cyclists to exit into these and avail themselves of the services.  I haven't seen bicycle-specific services like air pumps or inner tube vending, but that certainly could happen (with a generous hose length, the air pump could service tires / tyres for all kinds of vehicles).

These can be quite rich in services, though we do not have restaurants or gasoline / petrol services in them.  They are completely unstaffed (except they are patrolled by state police in both marked and unmarked, clandestine vehicles on occasion, I have seen this) and some do have notice signs that areas around vending machines have video surveillance.  Some contain "dumping stations" for recreational vehicles to dispose of their black water / gray water waste.  Some have what are called "pet areas," which I wouldn't call a full dog_park, but come pretty close, with plastic bag dog waste dispensers and covered waste cans, a fenced "running zone" and a spigot to fill Fido's water bowl.  Maybe those areas could be mapped with dog_park, I'd be OK with that.

The excellent tagging I've seen some OSM Contributors add to these convey some of this richness.  Here's a Copy Tags paste from JOSM on one Rest Area I frequent on drives to southern California, closed way/96026756:

description=8.5 mi. N. of San Miguel
name=Camp Roberts Rest Area

> While I think that highway=rest_area would actually be very fitting,
> its current definition and usage AFAIK is very car-focused. I would
> recommend using tourism=picnic_site which is basically a rest_area but
> for humans ;)

Yes, these are car-focussed, though again, bicycles are welcome where they are legal on that highway (a minority of cases). I believe Volker's original question specifically asks about these sorts of "Rest Areas" on bicycle-designated routes.  While these no doubt exist in Europe, I have not seen "bicycles only" such facilities here in the USA.  But with better bicycle infrastructure and routing growing all the time here, I believe it is only a matter of time before we do.  It appears Volker will map them first, then we will here; this sort of "cross the pond" data-sharing happens.  It's also possible that these do exist in the USA (I'd be willing to bet they are quite new), but I've never encountered them, either in OSM or in the real world. I wouldn't use picnic_site for the whole area, but if there is a separate picnic_site there (common) that can be added there.

> In my mind a classic example of a rest area would be like the ones that Caltrans or the Oregon DOT operate, which is basically just a place to park, use a toilet, and maybe eat a sack lunch and are primarily utilitarian in nature.  To my mind, a rest area must have appropriate parking and a toilet, basically highway=services but without the service part.

Right, Paul:  I'm used to toilets, vending machines, one or two public pay telephones, a picnic_site flavored area (perhaps some of it chain-link-fenced for dogs), maybe a special section for giant RV parking and possibly the dumping facilities noted, a section (and lane markings, signage) for large ("18-wheeler") trucks to park, drinking fountains / bubblers, and good lighting at night.  Every time I pull into one of these, there are always other vehicles and people there; these see a lot of use.  Some have even more amenities, some have less.  There are always at least restrooms / toilets (hence "rest area" although I have certainly seen motorists catching a snooze in their parked cars, another important reason for such "rest areas").

I suppose "bicycle=yes" might be a tag added to these, although if they are part of a "bicycle only" infrastructure (just as Caltrans Rest Areas are only accessible from the highway), that seems obvious, though it couldn't hurt as an additional tag.


More information about the Tagging mailing list