Proposed features/Car access tag

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Car access tag
Status: Abandoned (inactive)
Proposed by: Stefan Bethke
Tagging: car=[[Tag:car=* (see <tt style="background:#EEF;white-space:nowrap" dir="ltr">access=*)|* (see access=*)]]</tt>
Applies to: Node Way Area Relation
Definition: Add a tag that describes access policy applicable to just cars (not smaller nor larger vehicles).
Rendered as: German sign 1048-10
Drafted on: 2011-05-03
German sign 1048-10


This proposal introduces a new class of access tag that applies to passenger cars only.


The concrete problem is a parking lot that only cars are allowed to use, but not trucks nor busses, nor motorcycles and other smaller vehicles (technically, parking is allowed for two track vehicles with no trailers, not exceeding a gross mass of 3.5 tonnes). Reading the access=* page, I did not find a way to express that, as it appears that there is no tag specifically for cars, only for all other kinds of vehicles. I believe that certain roads and parking spaces all over the place are regularly limited to cars as opposed to trucks, etc. so it would be great if a tag could be found with which to express "only cars".

Furthermore, the description of motorcar=* on the access=* page and the [Map features] page are not clear enough: while the Map features description would likely be interpreted as applying to just cars, the access=* page clearly make motorcar a category of all larger motor vehicles. This should be clarified.

Update of Map Features and Key:Access

On the access=* page, the new category is inserted just below motorcar=*, on the same level as hov=*, with a description:

Passenger cars only. Excludes trucks, busses, and similar large vehicles. Depending on local law, may include or exclude minibusses, vans, and similar sized vehicles, as well as cars with trailers. Also see motorcar=*.

No specific legal definition is given since country specific or even local law does differ too widely with respect to vehicle classes.

The Map features’ Restriction section entry for motorcar is updated:

Access permission for (motor) cars, including larger vehicles like trucks and busses. Also see car=*. See the access=* page for details.

The Map features’ Restriction section gets a new entry for car:

Passenger cars only. Excludes trucks, busses, and similar large vehicles. Depending on local law, may include or exclude minibusses, vans, and similar sized vehicles. Also see motorcar=*. See the access=* page for details.


On a parking area, tag access=no, car=yes.


Please put comments and questions on the Talk page. I will summarize the discussions here.

I think there's three potential ways forward:

  • Change the meaning of motorcar=* to only refer to cars, not trucks, busses, etc. This would require a new tag for all double tracked motorized vehicles to be introduced. "motorcar" has been used over 200,000 times, so this would cause some confusion.
  • Introduce a new tag for "two-tracked, small passenger vehicles". "car" would seem a natural fit, except for the potential for confusion with "motorcar".
  • Deprecate "motorcar" and introduce two new tags for "double tracked motorized vehicles" and "two-tracked, small passenger vehicles". It is not obvious to me what these tags should be called to avoid confusion.

Discussion on tagging@ appears leaning towards introducing car, updating the wiki to reflect this specific distinction. This proposal describes this option.

Redefine motorcar, motor_vehicle

US definition

In at least parts of the US, "motor vehicle" is understood to mean motorcycles, cars and larger vehicles (Florida statutes):

Any self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped.

Nathan suggests on tagging@ to stick to this definition, thereby making motor_vehicle the category for motorcycles, cars, vans, trucks, busses, etc., leaving motorcar applying to just cars.

Discussion on talk-de@, history of tags

An ongoing discussion on talk-de@ is debating the state of the various wiki pages (access=*, motorcar=*, Access Restrictions for routing, and the various language versions of these, including the history of edits.

It would appear that making motorcar a super-category for all two-tracked vehicles was an intentional change by some editors, but neither discussed nor properly documented at the time.

The confusion was helped by using icons from the catalog of German traffic signs with specific meanings, which contradict the current description on access=*.

As of May 9th, the discussion is ongoing and has not reached a consensus yet.