[Talk-GB] Tagging of shared use paths

Mark Goodge mark at good-stuff.co.uk
Thu Dec 10 15:17:59 UTC 2020

On 10/12/2020 12:41, Ken Kilfedder wrote:
> As a break from 'tagging for the renderer', I'd like to see rendering 
> for the tags.  It would save a lot of heartarche if the map on osm.org 
> showed shared-use paths explicitly.   

I entirely agree! I think the real problem here is that the standard OSM 
render simply doesn't handle highways restricted to non-motorised users 
very well at all, and hence there's a strong incentive to people to 
modify the tags to try and workaround that issue.


Perhaps as follows:-
>   * highway=cycleway with nothing to say that foot is allowed - blue
>     dashes as at present.
>   * highway=footway with nothing to say bicyles are allowed - red dashes
>     as at present.
>   * highway=cycleway with foot expressly allowed - blue/red dashed line
>     (maybe blue long dash interspersed with red short dash)
>   * highway=footway with bikes expressly allowed - blue/red dashed line
>     (maybe red long dash interspersed with blue short dash)
>   * With segregated=yes - possibly, at higher zoom levels, show blue
>     dashes in parallel with red - the right way round if possible.

...this distinction doesn't really exist in the UK. The default legal 
position for for any public highway in the UK is that any permission for 
any class of user also includes permission for any class of user prior 
to that in the hierarchy, unless explicitly stated (and signed) 
otherwise. The hierarchy in question being:

horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles
motor vehicles

So any cycleway in the UK is also a footway, unless pedestrians are 
explicitly prohibited, and any road that cars can use is also open to 
cyclists and pedestrians (unless, again, they are explicitly prohibited, 
such as on motorways). There's certainly no general legal distinction 
between a cycleway that allows pedestrians and a footway that allows 
cycles - they are both, in law, exactly the same, and are both in law, a 
shared-use path. Even a segregated shared-use path is still legally 
usable across its entire width by pedestrians, even if that's typically 

Personally, I think the default OSM map render should follow that 
hierarchy, with minor highways and paths having a three-way distinction:

pedestrians only
pedestrians and cycles
all vehicles

(I'd disregard horses in this context, although tagging bridleways in 
rural areas would still be useful and it would be helpful to have that 
indicated somehow on the default render).

> I think that would solve the issue here, and prevent a lot of anonymous 
> notes.
> Anyone know off hand where/how to propose this?  Or even willing to help 
> on coding up a demo?

Another issue here is that the default OSM map render is intended to be 
global, but other countries don't necessarily have the same highway 
hierarchy as the UK. In some countries, cycleways that pedestrians are 
prohibited from using may be the norm (I have a feeling that is the case 
in The Netherlands, for example). This is one of the reasons why I think 
that the default render ought to be location-aware, in order to reflect 
different highway laws in different places.

But, also, it's a good reason to press on with creating a specifically 
UK stylesheet, so that OSM on a .uk domain looks different to that on a 
.org domain, with the former being styled to match British practice.


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