Cycle routes/cyclability

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"It is one of several proposed schemes. You may use or ignore it. This is how we do it." -- from the Karlsruhe Schema webpage. i.e. unsuitable for voting types.

(Differentiation: see also cyclability=* )

Use this page to list physical attributes along a cycle route that could be used to define cyclability.

Important principle: no two cyclists are the same - OSM should concentrate on recording the facts so that map users/client software can make up its own mind, rather than imposing an arbitrary general-purpose definition of "cyclability".

Route type

  • On road/Off road
    • how? both have advantages
    • safety issues mostly occur around junctions
    • Pedestrians madly flailing around and not understanding that The Bit With The Bike Painted On Is For Bikes
  • Cycle lanes (minor) and their design characteristics including width and location (more telling)
    • Best sort for some users are often also bus lanes.
    • Narrow sort can be unsafe or worse than useless, as can bike lanes located too close to parking or to the outside of all lanes (including turn lanes).
    • Presence of cycle lanes on junctions like roundabouts can be actively unhelpful
  • Continuity, and actually going somewhere
  • General traffic picture: complexity, number of crossing motions permitted
  • Signed route
    • Amount, consistency, and clarity of signage


  • Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs, "bike boxes") with/without sensible feeder lanes
  • Presence/absence of barriers that hinder cyclists barrier=cycle_barrier
    • for me, bicycle=no on such a thing means: would an ideal bicycle (zero-width) still have to turn by more than 45° to wiggle through (or do you have to get off and push, are there interferences at pedal and handlebar level)
    • trailers are even more difficult to deal with
  • Traffic calming
  • Good/bad sightlines
  • Presence of nearby amenities (e.g: cycle parking, refreshments, toilets, etc...)


  • Surface type surface=*
    • Type (material)
    • Quality (presence of potholes, etc.)
    • Surface smoothness (suitability for different types of wheeled vehicles) smoothness=*
  • Glass (Ephemeral :) )
  • Dropped kerbs (at intersections of off-road ways with roads)

Some surface recording might be seasonal - e.g. bridleways that are impassable (due to mud) in winter but easily cycled in summer; paths with hawthorn clippings at certain times.

Other users

  • Route also used by walkers
    • Codify highway=footway|bicycle=yes < highway=cycleway|foot=yes as a means of recording what a way is better for, perhaps?
  • Other route users
    • Traffic levels
    • proximity to vehicles
      • ... infer from road width / classification?
  • Speed limit for motors
  • Presence of parked cars (mapping street parking may be useful)
    • with bike lanes: typically a bad combination round here, but not always
    • likelihood of dooring affected by number of nearby shops, degree of clue in car-driving locals...
  • Tram or other light rail lines sharing the carriageway.


  • Gradient (from SRTM)
    • For short slip roads/hills where the change in height won't be picked up by SRTM, use incline=1/-1 or steep_incline=1/-1
  • Pub on section
  • Illuminated lit=*
  • Road classification
  • Named hazards
    • What about cycleway:hazard=* or {bicycle,car,vehicle}:hazard=*?

Tag ideas:

  • Try to use existing tags where they exist, and link to where they're defined
Physical Tag key values notes
Illuminated lit=* yes; no
Surface surface=* paved; unpaved in many cases this can be successfully guessed from the way itself (for highway=trunk to highway=residential in many regions "paved" is a safe bet).
It is suggested to always add surface information to remove ambiguity and uncertainty
Hazards hazards potholes; traffic_calming; parked_vehicles; glass; hawthorn; barrier; gate looks like it could be made more generally applicable - perhaps a {motorcar, bicycle, vehicle}:hazard:thing={yes, no, very_bad} combo?
Barriers barrier=* cycle_barrier; gate; bollard; stile...
General cycleway form cycleway on_road; off_road; lane; track; opposite_lane; opposite_track; shared_use; segregated. Combine with Proposed features/right left? cycleway=asl or cycleway=bike_box (for nodes near traffic_signals) Segregated (e.g. by verges) but parallel to a road on-pavement stuff should probably get separate ways.

Segregated (e.g. by embedded kerbstones, bollards) on-road stuff should probably use cycleway.

cycleway=* on a highway=cycleway → iterative refinement, saying more about the cycleway itself.

Section shared shared_with foot; car; horse; bus; tram; rail in most cases this is implied by the way itself, of course (e.g. if a way is both railway= and highway=cycleway)
Speed limit for motors maxspeed=* xxmph
Signage signed yes; no
Gradient gradient flat; gentle; steep; very_steep way-direction-dependent: way points uphill (like highway=steps?)
Necessity to dismount dismount yes; no; trailer; tandem
Necessity to dismount (plan B) bicycle


dismount done as an access-style tag. Handy for barrier "access" (ability to pass through) too.
Cycle parking (existing) amenity=bicycle_parking