Proposed features/lifts

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Status: Draft (under way)
Proposed by: Lulu-Ann
Tagging: highway=elevator
Applies to: node, way, area
Definition: A vertical public right-of-way for pedestrians
Rendered as: PD Elevator Icon
Drafted on: 2008-01
RFC start: 2009-04-24


A public elevator (or lift) is used to travel vertically, providing passenger and freight access between pathways at different floor levels.

Example: the Golden Jubilee Bridges in London, have a lift at each end, allowing wheelchair access which would not otherwise be possible due to the steps used for normal access.

More examples of public elevators here

Mapping outdoor public elevators

Suggested mapping procedure: Add a node node at the location of the elevator and add highway=elevator (c.f. highway=steps, which is also a physical description rather than a legal right-of-way type). For larger elevators, such as freight lifts, draw an enclosed way area around the outline of the lift. For non-vertical incline elevators, draw a straight way way along the elevator's path.

Connect highway=elevator with highway=footway or any other appropriate tag.

Note: Incline elevators should not be confused with longer-distance trams or aerial incline cable cars; continue to use railway=tram and aerialway=cable_car respectively.

In this example, four highway=elevator tags are placed within a building in JOSM and labeled with brand=Otis.

Mapping indoor elevators

Elevators located within buildings could also be tagged as a property as building=* with elevator=yes if the specific location of the elevator(s) is unknown. If the specific location is known, adding the elevator, or multiple elevators, as separate nodes using the highway=elevator tag, would be the preferred approach (preferred level of detail to work towards). The number of floors should be specified on the features' building=* tag using building:levels=*.

Absence of an elevator

If there is no elevator, this could have negative consequences concerning the accessibility of a building for wheelchair users (if the building has more than one level). An absence of an elevator could be indicated by tagging elevator=no on the building=* tag or location node.

Lifts/elevator transport from one level to the next


Mostly pedestrians and definitely wheelchairs. Perhaps usable by bicycles. wheelchair=designated, foot=yes would be understood by default. Combine with access=* where appropriate.


An elevator/lift icon PD Elevator Icon would be used for the major map editors such as JOSM. The icon could also be rendered at the 18th zoom level in the slippy map. Large elevators mapped as an area area could be rendered with the icon combined with a light gray area similar to highway=footway, area=yes. Incline elevators would have a single icon with a grey way similar to railway=* tags.

Tagging Examples & Description

Example Suggested Tagging
A Schindler-manufactured public elevator inside of a downtown office tower with Braille dots.
An employee elevator located somewhere inside of a supermarket. Specific location unknown.
A large non-public Otis freight elevator inside of a shopping mall. Location known.
An outdoor Dover elevator with Braille. Elevator has English speech output. Location known. Bicycles ok.
An guest-only Schindler elevator inside of a hotel resort with Braille. Guest shows key to guard to access.