Forward & backward, left & right
|Feature: Forward & backward, left & right|
|Used to describe position or direction relative to a way.|
|*:forward=*, *:backward=*, *:left=*, *:right=*|
When adding details to highways or other ways, it is often important to differentiate between the direction of travel or the side of the way. To do this we define the four terms forward, backward, left and right, which all depend on the direction in which the way is drawn in OpenStreetMap.
It is important to know the difference between backward/forward and left/right.
Forward and backward
Forward and backward describe a direction along a way, but not a side of the way. Forward means the direction in which the way is drawn in OpenStreetMap, while backward means the opposite direction. The oneway=yes tag is a good example of a direction-dependent feature: if this tag is added to a way, it becomes a one-way in forward direction.
Left and right
Left and right describe a side of a way, but not a direction along the way. Left means the left-hand side of the road when looking in forward direction (as defined above), while right means the right-hand side.
As part of the key
- maxspeed:forward=* - maximum speed which only applies in forward direction
- lanes:backward=* - number of lanes in backward direction
- cycleway:left=* - a cycleway on the left side of the road
- parking:lane:right=* - a parking lane on the right side of the road
- name:left=*, name:right=* - e.g. when street name is different on the right and left side
Forward, backward, left and right are also sometimes used as a tag's value. In this case, no additional namespace is added to the key of the tag.
- sidewalk=* - the side(s) of the road where sidewalks are present
- traffic_signals:direction=* - the direction of travel affected by traffic signals
Identifying the direction of a way
In iD the direction of a way is only shown (by grey arrows on the way itself) indirectly if it is tagged with a oneway=* tag (note that the arrow direction is the opposite of the way direction if it is tagged oneway=-1). At least currently there seems to be no other possibility.
In Potlatch 2 the direction of a selected way is shown ...
- ... if you choose the "Enhanced" map view in Potlatch 2 the direction is indicated by small, light grey arrows on the way itself. This only works if the way is tagged with key highway, railway or waterway (+ maybe also some other keys) and is currently not tagged as oneway street (reason follows).
- If ways are tagged as oneway streets then they always show bigger, grey arrows which indicate the allowed oneway direction (which is the opposite of the way direction if it is tagged
In JOSM arrows are shown on the selected way. To show arrows for all ways, go to Edit→Preferences..., select the "Dispay Settings" page, then the "OSM Data" tab, and check "Draw Direction Arrows".
In Merkaartor, you can switch way direction display between always-on, always-off and only-oneways in the View menu.
Data view on osm.org
The node list of a way in the data view on osm.org is sorted with the top/first node in the list being the start/first node of the way respectively the bottom/last node in the list being the end/last node of the way. data layer helps you to get to such a page.