|Used on these elements|
|Documented values: 3|
|Status: de facto|
|Tools for this tag|
Indicates a way's grade, slope, or incline. In the case of roads, there is often a warning sign along the road.
The incline is most commonly given either as
- the gradient; the ratio of vertical to horizontal change as a percentage (numeric with postfixed percentage symbol, %); e.g., incline=15%. This is calculated as rise h over run d by the formula 100%×h⁄d.
- the angle of inclination from the horizontal (numeric with postfixed degree symbol, °); e.g., incline=10°. This is preferred only where widely in use.
As one moves forward on a way, a positive incline gets higher, and a negative incline gets lower.
If the incline is unknown, it can be specified simply as incline=up or incline=down. See below for how to use these.
Changing inclines or bridges
incline=up/downshow an up and down incline, like for a foot bridge (it can be problematic for bicycles or pedestrians...)
Split the way at the ends of the steep section and add a tag incline=value% on the way with values as given above. The value should be given for the practical maximum incline on the steep section (i.e., the maximum incline that a vehicle/primary user could achieve), and not for the average incline between the nodes. See Talk:Key:incline.
Most occurrences of this tag are on steps (highway=steps), usually tagged with incline=up or incline=down.
The use of this tag has limited (if any) usage, as nodes do not have any direction. It may be used only on nodes that are used by a single way, but it does not mean that this is the inclination of the whole way.
To avoid problems that could occur when the node is shared by an intersection of ways, you should tag instead a segment-way between two nodes where the incline angle is effectively measurable.
Extremely short inclined segments (under about 1 meter on ways for vehicles, or below 10 centimetres for footways usable by wheelchairs) generally don't need to be tagged as they are not really significant barriers if the incline rate remains below about 50% (otherwise they are effectively "steps").
In case you don't know the exact value you can:
- use incline=up for ways going up the hill in the direction of the way, and incline=down for ways going down the hill in the direction of the way
- roughly estimate and do not mind if it is somewhat wrong. It would be helpful to add another tag, like fixme=check incline.
Relationship between gradient and angle
Values can be converted as follows:
- ‹gradient in %› = tan'(‹angle in °›) × 100% = tan(‹angle in °› × πc / 180°) × 100%
- ‹angle in °› = arctan(‹gradient in %› / 100%) = arctan(‹gradient in % / 100%) × 180° / πc
The rate of change of the gradient with respect to the inclination is not constant. E.g., 10° is 17.63%, and 30° is 57.73% (not 52.89%).
Common & extreme inclines
Common values for this tag are in the range −25% to 25% on roads. Ways with a steepness of under 10% are seldom signposted, except on motorways in mountainous regions (for sections longer than about 500 meters where an acceleration not controlled by braking may expose to danger, notably in curves or with other slower vehicles or with people walking along the road), but inclines of over 20% are rare and pure visual estimation of steepness often results in too big values.
Maximum known inclines on public streets is 37% at Canton Avenue - the steepest officially recorded public street in the United States. Standing upright in an incline of 52% (found in downhill pistes) can already be tricky, and not only because the shoes start to slip. The steepest groomed skipistes are around 100% (i.e., Piste de l'Aigle in Zinal, Switzerland, around 100%, or Harakiri in Mayrhofen, Austria, at 85%). Off-piste skiing takes place on even steeper terrain for experts only.
Long inclines in mountains are considered steep for bicycles when they reach 15% for a significant length. In sports competitions, they are challenging and frequently assigned a "category" according to the total length of steep incline. There's no international standard for this category, each competition decides the category and assigns specific points for the sportive challenge, and this categorization may change over time at each competition event; however the categorization is for a long route that include sections with variable inclines requiring more than a few minutes of efforts. So there's no permanent signs for these categories except during these competition events.
On the opposite, the categorisation of long steep inclines on pistes open for skiing is signed permanently with conventional colours marking their difficulty. These colours (typically from green to blue, red, and black in Europe) are tagged separately. See piste:difficulty=*.
One stated recommended maximum transverse incline for a footway usable in a wheelchair has been 2.5%.
incline:across=* has been suggested in Proposed features/incline:across.
incline=up/down has some use for marking ways without clear overall incline but with many up/down hops. Some people would prefer it to be a separate tag but there is no any known used alternative or clear replacement or clear deprecation of that value
This use was confirmed by asking all people who used this specific tag
There is also opposition to treating this value seriously, see https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/w/index.php?title=Key:incline&diff=2410960&oldid=2404953 and https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Tordanik&oldid=2411029#incline
It was not included in Proposed features/incline up down
Tagging based on traffic signs
An easy derivation of the data is possible using the source of existing traffic signs (traffic_sign=*) for slope warning, see table:
For other warning traffic signs, their impact is mainly tagged as hazard=*.
Possible tagging mistakes
- handrail=* - Defines whether there is at least one handrail
- mtb:scale:uphill=* - A classification scheme for the difficulty of trails for mountainbiking especially for going uphill
- Proposal for incline
- Proposal for incline=up/down
- ↑ "The Effect of Footway Crossfall Gradient on Wheelchair Accessibility" by Catherine Holloway "The thesis concludes that current crossfall guidelines of 2.5% seem reasonable, and that inexperienced users may struggle when these guidelines are exceeded."
- ↑ https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/tagging/2022-September/thread.html#65543
- ↑ https://codeberg.org/matkoniecz/who-added-this-tag was used to find who added incline=up/down present as of 2022-10-13 with people asked via changeset comments, with responses at https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/112587084 https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/82137876 https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/96792992 https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/84037308 https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/113458222 https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/88299100