Talk:Proposed features/Designation

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I think this is a good idea, particularly to solve the England & Wales issues about categories of public rights & permissions. The current guidance in UK Countryside Mapping [[1]]to tag bridleways as horse=yes, bicycle=yes, foot=yes is laborious, and not widely used. Ideally, the bridleway tag alone should assume this position as default, at least in the UK, and extra tags refer to only exceptions to the rule. The page on the default position on OSM routing/access restrictions in different countries is relevant here [[2]]

This represents, IMO, a good compromise solution to current arguments as it can be used to differentiate the absolute signed legal right to use or not use the different types of UK highway, as opposed to the physical capabilities/capacity of a highway. --Qichina 22:21, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

I like pretty much everything about this proposal - especially as it solves most of the thorny problems we have in England/Wales in making a distinction between legal status and physical state. Mikh43 16:48, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

I think separating legal status from the highway tag is a good thing in general. Currently with bridleways tagged as highway=bridleway you have no idea what kind of actual way you are dealing with. Where I live there are a lot of bridleways, some on wide tracks and some on singletrack paths. I also know of one bridleway near me that runs up the driveway of a country house. It would be nice to be able to differentiate that rather than the current situation where either the type of way or the legal status is lost. devonshire 13:18, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Tag name

I like everything about this proposal except the actual tag name. I don't think it's descriptive of what's being recorded. Maybe rightofway=* or something equally descriptive. The less ambiguous the better, though. Jono 12:58, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

  • The term "designation" is used because it also meets a more general need to state the legal situation in other contexts. The term has been batted around for a while; rights-of-way are just a specific need provoking it to be codified. It is also already in use, so changing it would be a slight pain. --RichardMann 15:32, 10 June 2009 (UTC)


I'm not sure designation=not_highway works in this key - it potentially clashes with other values. Socks 13:13, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

  • I decided it wouldn't happen often enough to be worth worrying about. I'd just say the footpath/bridleway value took priority.--RichardMann 15:46, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Agree with Richard here. Mikh43 16:53, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
  • How is not_highway any different from permissive? --JonS 14:12, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

IMO this is not different enough from access=permissive private land to warrant an additional tag values. --achadwick 17:12, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

  • the designation tag allows the tagger to record the explicit presence of a sign or notice specifying the nature of the permissive access. These signs appear to be of two types as described in the proposal; these do not cover all permissive access, by any means. The access tag still has to be used to vary the availability of the way implied by the highway tag.--RichardMann 09:51, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

Other Roads with Public Access (ORPAs)

How would we tag an ORPA? This abbreviation (Other Roads with Public Access) has no defined legal standing but is widely used since it was invented by the UK Ordnance Survey and is widely used on their maps (line of solid green circles). Mikh43 16:53, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

  • Is there any way to tell they exist on the ground? Or are they non-public roads that there's no "Private Keep Out" sign on - in which case access=permissive would surely be more accurate anyway?--RichardMann 12:38, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
  • You're right. I don't think you can really tell on the ground, although the highway authority may maintain a non-copyright lists. Mikh43 07:02, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
  • So not included--RichardMann 09:19, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

I've just followed the instructions on the OS map key and asked my local highways authority about the status of two ORPAs near me. It turns out they are actually "unclassified roads" with full vehicular access rights. So I guess we should either use highway=unclassified for these (which may be bit misleading since they're not necessarily suitable for driving normal cars on) or use highway=track combined with something like designation=unclassified_road to indicate the legal status. Rjw62 13:58, 28 January 2011 (UTC)


Is there a case for including possible tag values of designation=adopted and designation=unadopted? (In England and Wales at least) Mikh43 07:14, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

  • This will conflict with other values too often (eg a road that is unadopted with a public footpath along it). So not included.--RichardMann 09:16, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

Use for all highways

I think this is a great idea, which has far greater usage potential than the examples shown. In the US, the existing highway tag values don't match well with the government designations of the roads, especially in urban areas. --Amillar 14:35, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

  • Relations work better where (1) the ways are part of numbered routes, and (2) you can have multiple refs on a way. designation=* works better when the designations are (almost always) exclusive, and for unnumbered ways such as paths. So not included.--RichardMann 09:22, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

There is one type of situation where I would use designation=* on roads. This is where a road is also a public right of way. This is not uncommon, for example, where new housing developments have encroached on countryside and public footpaths have been subsumed as estate roads but still retain their legal status. Mikh43 15:56, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

  • Exception noted in the proposal. If there's a clash in values for ref=*, the road value will have to take precedence.--RichardMann 17:59, 25 June 2009 (UTC)


I'm not convinced about not rendering any values of this key. --MarkS 18:06, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

  • There's already one specialist rendering. I think general-purpose renderers would be sensible to omit/suppress access=private paths a bit more than they do, but the fine distinctions between different types of legal access is a specialist concern.--RichardMann 09:25, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
    • I tend to agree with access=private should probably be downplayed a bit. However, I would prefer to see byway, bridleway and in particular public_footpath to be rendered. At the moment a public footpath (in the UK) might actually run across a highway=unclassified or highway=unadopted (eg. unadopted roads), highway=track (eg. a farm track) and highway=footway. At the momment it isn't really clear where the footpaths (or bridlgeways) run if they follow a track. I'd like to see some form of rendering for these in preference to farm tracks. Whilst we can force a render to do something, we can encourage it by tweaking the proposal. --MarkS 21:21, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

What exactly is proposed...

I keep asking myself what this proposal exactly wants to do, not being really familiar with the UK situation. But it looks to me like another tagging method for some traffic signs. There are currently two methods in use for that: the highway tag ("highway=living_street"), and another top-level tag which never got voted on but started to get used ("motorroad=yes"). So this proposal would make a third option right? If so, then I think this method is superior to the ones in use and we could add those two above to the list here as well, but I wonder why I don't see them on the proposal page. Just trying to avoid having two ways for tagging the same thing maybe? It would be nice though to have a tag for example to tell that you're on a motorway: some motorway links aren't completely motorway, but no-one is splitting the motorway_link up to tag one part highway=motorway_link and the other part highway=unclassified or something.

That said: in Belgium we have these special roads types, each implying a big list of traffic rules:

  • motorway ("autosnelweg")
  • motorroad ("autoweg")
  • living street ("(woon)erf")
  • road reserved for pedestrians, cyclists and horse drivers
  • road reserved for pedestrians, cyclists and horse drivers on indicated part of the road
  • road reserved for agriculture vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and horse drivers
  • pedestrian zone

and these are usually just one part of a road, but can sometimes be roads on their own (although not really meant for that purpose)

  • mandatory cycleway
  • mandatory footway
  • mandatory part of the road for horse drivers
  • mandatory part of the road for cyclists and pedestrians

The second list can be tagged using existing tags currently ("highway=cycleway" etc). Of the first list we have existing tags for motorroad ("motorroad=yes"), and living_street ("highway=living_street"). All the other ones can't be correctly mapped with existing tags ("highway=pedestrian" is also used for roads that aren't pedestrian zones for example). Promoting a designation=motorroad tag to be used instead of motorroad=yes makes sense, but doing that with living_street is more problematic. --Eimai 11:39, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

What does this proposal want to do? Give taggers somewhere nice and simple to put legal distinctions, so they don't need to try to imply them using the highway and other tags, and don't end up over-defining other tags as a result. If you've got good-enough alignment between highway tags and legal situations, then you don't need to use this tag.--RichardMann 13:30, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Richard. At the moment in the UK we don't have alignment between the highway tags and legal situation. For example roads (be it residential street or farm track) can be privately owned but with a public_footpath across it. The road can only be used by vehicles belonging to the owners, but can be walked along by anybody. At the moment we have no way to record this and as I am trying to map the footpaths in my area at the moment I can see a clear need for this tag. --MarkS 21:25, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Rendering and compatibility

Most countryside routes near me are on tracks but only a subset are rights of way. Planning routes across the Fens in Cambridgeshire can be tricky when using using Mapnik because everything is rendered as a track. That is one reason we now have Freemap - I am a fan of fixing Mapnik however.

When using a map I am looking for two things. Can I legally use a way, and how quickly can I move over that ground ? Eg a track is faster to cycle on than an untracked bridleway. Right now we have to choose between bridleway or track rendering because you cannot do both in Mapnik.

At the moment we have Mapnik rendering highway=bridleway and byway in a UK specific way (tell me if I am wrong). Ideally, we should be as compatible with the rest of the world on Mapnik so we can look at a map of any country and work out if we are allowed to use that route.

Are our bridleways and byways unique or are countryside ways in Europe and the rest of the world in any way similar to ours ? Eg bridleway = foot+cycle+horse.

(I would love to see this debate moved on and get Mapnik fixed for the UK but this discussion has been stagnant for a year) --Pshore 09:25, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Bridleways are virtually unknown outside the UK (and plausible access for bikes is certainly not guaranteed, even here). Use access=private if it's private. I think the highway tag should focus on the broad physical characteristics, myself.--RichardMann 16:36, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Additional tag values for the UK

There are a few other values relevant to the UK that I could see being useful to include:

designation=quiet_lane and designation=home_zone

Under the Quiet Lanes and Home Zones (England) Regulations (2006) I believe councils are able to officially designate a country road as a "Quiet Lane" or a residential road as a "Home Zone". While this doesn't confer any additional access rights, it does have implications for traffic management and expectations for both motor vehicle and non-motor-vehicle users. These designated roads will typically be signed as such. -- Rjw62 17:09, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

I think these can safely be added to the list--RichardMann 16:13, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

What is the difference to highway=living_street ? --Fabi2 16:07, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

You're right - I'd forgotten that home zone is already covered. I think there might be a case that Living_street / Fahrradstrasse etc might be better off recorded as "designations" rather than distinct highway values. But that may be because of the fashion here in the UK to remove signs and just let people guess what the rules are (and sometimes - quite the opposite - just to put up meaningless signs in the hope that it'll create some uncertainty).--RichardMann 14:48, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Home Zone is a specific legal designation, which may or may not apply to any particular road that has the look and feel of a living street. I'd envisage such streets being tagged with both highway=living_street and designation=home_zone if both apply. (It's a similar situation to Public Footpath being a specific legal designation that may or may not apply to a route that looks like a footway.) -- Rjw62 15:03, 5 March 2011 (UTC)


Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) areas of countryside may be designated as "Access Land", which provides a right of access to members of the public to make use of the land for "open-air recreation". This is similar to a public footpath in that it gives you the right to be somewhere, but it applies to areas rather than ways. Access land is typically signed at its entrances making it possible to infer the area covered with the help of aerial imagery. -- Rjw62 17:09, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure anything will be able to use the data (it might be best to add it explicitly to any informal paths across the relevant areas as well). But no harm having it as a value (though I will keep the tag as applying only to ways, formally).--RichardMann 16:18, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Where now?

Now this useful and widely used tag has been voted down by the unnecessary and badly-broken process that goes by the name of 'approval process', what happens next? I will continue to use the tag (as will others), it will still used by data consumers, indeed the useful discussion process has brought up new uses for the tag, but it is not approved. Will this finally be the death knell for the voting as the way to end a discussion? It is clear that it is broken when a group of people who don't understand its use can be whipped up to vote against a tag that is already in use and is useful. We do not have a list of approved tags, and we never should, so why do we need an approval process? What gives anyone the right to vote on the tags anyone else can use? --Chillly

Not sure. I'm going to keep using it until something better replaces it. Unfortunately none of the no voters have suggested an alternative. Maybe a post in talk-gb to try and drum up support might help, after all there was a talk-de post... Can't see it helping much. Another approach might be for someone fluent in german to explain the tag to ensure there wasn't any misunderstanding?--Pobice 22:50, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
The proper thing to do was to define the use of the tag more clearly, until everybody can agree on it. There is no dispute that it is commonly used and meaningful for the UK/Wales. There is a strong opposition however to setting it up by vote globally - without any concept of what values make sense or how it is supposed to work in the context of existing tags. The topic of designation is pretty much scorched earth in Germany - partially caused by a failed attempt to apply British concepts to German ways - and yet another variant that is completely vague is not exactly an improvement to the existing desaster. Just saying "may be used in other countries, too" is just not good enough to be called a proposal or a concept. So the easiest thing would be to just limit the proposal documentation to the context and area where it is well defined and well used and postpone a global attempt until anything useful has been defined for a global scenario. --Nop 23:46, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
The tag isn't meant to replace any current access tags. Its define the legal status which covers not only access but many other intricate rules and regs. Access tags should still be set when used with designation. As for getting as an "official sanctioned wiki documented tag" what do we need to do then - simply say this tag is currently for use in the UK/Wales, For other countries please produce a separate proposal for the new values? Is there any need to actually say this this is the policy of all tags.--Pobice 00:14, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes it is. The current formulations are extremely misleading. Imagine what a new user will do who still believes there is meaning in the wiki and finds a tag that claims to apply to the whole world, but the given values are only meaningful in the UK. --Nop 07:58, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
You're misunderstanding so much I don't know where to begin. There are no given values, this is a freeform tag. --Richard 11:22, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I see. An undefined freeform tag for an already chaotic and disputed topic? That would be a worst-case desaster scenario. A definite no-go. --Nop 00:33, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
It's not "for an already chaotic and disputed topic". Please stop thinking that this is here to codify access rights in machine-parseable format. It isn't. It's here to record the formal legal status of an entity. --Richard 16:47, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Hang on a min every tag is a freeform tag. However the fact renders and data users have to also support the tag tends to keep the freeform nature under control. Personally I don't see the issue, but then again don't think it needs mentioning in the proposal either --Pobice 18:34, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

My point is not that this tag is good, bad or indifferent, but that the process of voting is broken, useless and actually causes more problems than it solves. Voting on tags gives them some degree of importance or validity that they don't deserve. Most votes gather less than 20 votes - how is that representative? Many times people vote who have no understanding of the use of a tag - as is very clear in this case. People seem to think that only approved tags can be used. THERE ARE NO APPROVED TAGS!!!!! If there are no approved tags, why have an approval process and what is the point of voting when you can use any tag anywhere? Documenting tags to help people be consistent is very useful, but that is not the same as having an approval process. I know that not having a list tags that can be used causes some people to be very worried, but it works: OSM is the proof that it works. So lets have useful discussions, great documentation but no votes leading to a phoney approved status. Chillly 11:29, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

The way I see it, voting (if we must call it that) should be only possible when there are two (or more) envisioned ways how to tag a specific thing, and when they both could work reasonably (also in relation to other tags). Now the proposals come up as one vision of a new tag, key, or value, and the "voting" is a mixture of whether it's consistent with previous usage, reasonably easy to add to current tools and data consumers, whether random people like the idea of adding them to the database at all and objections or approvals based on users not yet understanding the complexity, scope and prior art of the osm data. Yet at this point comes the hard part: we're reluctant, and rightly so, to appoint anyone even to a position where they could act as a, "proposal secretary". But then (only) some senior mappers bother engaging in the wiki, to educate new users, and to correct misconceptions. That's unlikely to change as long as we're lacking coders to implement any support for the previously added/engineered tags. And normally we don't hear about the misconceptions until someone "votes on the wiki". Alv 11:58, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

Proposals are an incentive to develop a tagging idea until there is widespread support for it and to write good documentation. Without a mechanism to do this, it's too easy to only focus on those who agree with you (such as those who use a tag) and ignore valid concerns of others. If there are lots of people who "have no understanding of the use of a tag", for example, then that's a clear sign that the documentation of the proposed tags is not good enough. This can happen, for example, if an idea develops within a group of people who have a common cultural background that lets them consider things obvious that aren't actually obvious to the rest of the world. So what now? 1. Narrow the scope of the proposal to the small number of tags for which there is actually demand and that are in use, rather than trying to establish a global "free-form" tag. In addition, although is not strictly necessary, I'd consider choosing a key (say, "right_of_way") or using a prefix ("uk:*"?), that clarifies this narrowed scope. 2. State more clearly why the key is needed, and how it interacts with other tags. Perceived overlap with highway and access (especially the designated value - which is partly the fault of the key choice "designation") seems to be a major concern for those who reject the proposal. 3. Set up a new proposal with these changes and point out what aspects of the feedback you have taken into account. It would also help if that new proposal didn't include a statement that the proposal author dislikes the very process he is inviting people to participate in. --Tordanik 13:08, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately, most of those voting to oppose the proposal haven't provided reasons, so we don't really know what they were objecting to. Do they think that we shouldn't have a way to tag the official designation of things in general, or that we should but should use a different name, or that we don't need to specifically tag the designation/status of public rights of way in England and Wales, or that we should use a more specific tag for public rights of way tagging (and by corollary a different specific tag for other instances of legal designations that may arise), or is their opposition from something entirely different? Without constructive comments with opposing votes we're not going to be able to move forward with any certainty. In the mean time, designation=* for UK public rights of way tagging will just become more engrained in usage of UK mappers. -- Rjw62 13:30, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
IMO, this does illustrate the absurdity of the voting process. For anyone who has tried to tag rights of way in England and Wales, the various other options all proved, either unsatisfactory (plain footway, track etc), or overly cumbersome (access tags with designated). In many cases it was still not possible to identify those highways which were legal rights of way. This is an important issue: some of these rights may be irrevocably lost in 2026 through inadequate recording by highway authorities. Once the designation tag was suggested a lot of these problems fell by the wayside. It is rather close in name to designated, but does not prevent that tag being used. It also happens that the basic principle, that of being able to tag separately the formal legal status of a mapped object, from a more uniform objective tagging scheme, is of wider applicability. The apparently concerted effort of some OSM contributors to vote down this tag without any experience of using it demonstrates a wholly inappropriate view of what consensus means, and, in particular, it demonstrates a lack of respect for other OSM contributors. SK53 15:40, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't think this is a matter of lack of respect, but more of an inadequate proposal description and usage specification. Also, voting processes are not absurd at all. They are needed to evaluate different opinions on tags and their usage in order to gather different opinions and in conclusion being able to improve these tags to eliminate ambiguities, redundancy and increase their usefulness. Otherwise you'll end up with a database full of different tags without an adequate definition which makes proper interpretation really hard. --Scai 14:12, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
This is just a completely absurd argument. We all can use any tag we like at any time. Why do you think for one moment that voting changes this? Voting makes people feel that the process is official, when it is not. Consistency comes from use of tags, not from the broken voting system. Voting has encouraged people to make mass changes with bots that are completely inappropriate because they, mistakenly, believe that only tags that have been voted on should be used. Chillly 17:02, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Bots are a completely different problem, I don't like them, too. Of course you can use any tag you like, but OSM is not just about tags, but also about interpreting them correctly. Just think about routing engines, without proper tag definitions they are completely useless. --Scai 18:13, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
How can you improve a proposal if you don't know why people are voting against it? Should we just keep stabbing in the dark until we hit some hidden set of criteria? I don't care if its just a same as userx reason, we just need something to go on. I know I've probably been guilty of it in the past, but it really isn't helpful for moving on. For example would just changing the name or removing the German values help (I fear a change in name could be too late now..)--Pobice 18:09, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
You could ask them directly - we know their usernames, after all. --Tordanik 20:27, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

separating "right of way" and "generic official classification"

I want to point out that this proposal does not simply document existing usage of a popular tag. Instead, it tries to take a tag that is almost exclusively used for a particular concept (right of way) and in a certain part of the world ( England and Wales) and establish it as a global "freeform tag" for official classifications. Personally, I'd prefer to see the scope of this proposal limited to the popular use case only. The need for tagging that attribute has already been demonstrated in practice, and for this particular purpose, the existing uses of "designation" would be hard to get rid of. A value list would also address the several - imo valid - objections that this proposal is "too vague".

The question whether we need a generic key for official classifications should be discussed separately. There are several problems with a single generic key for that purpose, and even if we decide that we want such a key, we really don't need to call it "designation". --Tordanik 21:02, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

I support the idea of separation, it would make this tag a lot less confusing. Combined with a proper proposal it should be no problem to get this tag approved. --Scai 10:42, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

Results (so far)

Rough count upto Tordanik 20:16, 8 March 2011 . Sorry if I miss counted, or tagged your response down for the wrong reason. --Pobice 23:45, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Vote Count
Yes 11
No 24
Stupid* 3
Abstain 1
  • As in wiki voting is stupid etc etc

Break Down of No's

Reason Count
Needs limiting to England/Wales 3
Redundant - just use access tags 4
Too Vague 2
Badly Named 1
Reply in German* 1
Unknown 14
  • Tried google translate. None the wiser
Same if you are a native speaker. :-) Actually, the comment has nothing to do with this proposal at all. --Nop 00:34, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

Rejected feature ?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the vote has ended 15 days ago, so this proposal shouldn't be still listed as "voting (under way)", right ? --Don-vip 20:46, 31 March 2011 (BST)

I'm setting it to "Post-Vote" until someone wishes to clean it as a rejected feature. --Don-vip 14:01, 16 April 2011 (BST)