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Public-images-osm logo.svg mtb
Norco Range.jpg
Used for different types of information for mountain bikes, actual use unclear. Can regard both practical suitability or legal access both for bicycles in general or specifically for mountain bikes. For general legal access use bicycle=* instead Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
Group: restrictions
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areas (and multipolygon relations)should not be used on relations (except multipolygon relations)
Useful combination
See also
Status: de facto

The key mtb=* has been used for different to types of information regarding  mountain bikes since 2009. This key was not documented until April 2020 and its actual use is not very clear, but points more towards practical suitability than legal access-restrictions as meant in Key:access.

Current usage: mainly practical suitability

mtb=* often appears to have been used to describe whether a path or road is suitable for mountain bikes, rather than describing the formal legal accessibility different from the legal access for bicycle=* in general.

The key mtb=* is also used in combination with tourism=information and information=* to signify that these have something to do with mountain biking. E.g. a map with mountain bike routes of the region information=map or a guidepost for mountain bikers information=guidepost or bicycle shop specialising in mountain bikes shop=bicycle.

Current usage on roads and paths Key:highway also points towards practical suitability instead of formal legal accessibility specifically for mountain bikes (instead of bicycles in general) as meant in Key:access:

For instance; only less then 3% of ways with mtb=yes also has bicycle=no or vehicle=no.

Another indication that mtb=* is not used in the sense of access=* is that a legal nuance like mtb=permissive -which might be expected on outback trails- is only used very rarely compared to mtb=yes: ratio 1:1.000 (Taginfo). In comparison bicycle=permissive is used in a much larger proportion of cases: ratio compared to bicycle=yes about 1:50 (Taginfo).

Although current usage on roads and paths seems to describe practical suitability, a better alternative to describe this would be the keys mtb:scale=* and/or tracktype=* sac_scale=* smoothness=*, since it would not only indicate whether a path or road is suitable, but also specify how difficult it is for mountain bikes of different levels.

Legal access

As described above current usage does not suggest that mtb=* describes formal legal accessibility as meant in Key:access.

Furthermore usage to describe legal access specifically for mountain bikes (as opposed to bicycles in general) would be also expected to be rare, since in most countries and situations all types of (non-motorised) bicycles are treated equally in regards to legal access.

Besides the lack of relevance for a legal distinction between mountain bikes and other types of bicycles, it would be very hard to legally accurately define the difference between a "mountain bike" (example 1 / 2) and for instance a "hybrid bike", (example), "cross bike" (example) or "monstercross gravelbike" (examples)

In line with the approved proposal for Key:electric_bicycle, a separate tag for legal access for mountain bikes should only be used if legal access for mountain bikes is different from legal access for bicycles in general. If local law treats mountain bikes identically to bicycles in general, the key bicycle=* should used instead to document legal access restrictions for all kinds of bicycles.

Serrata Mountain Bike Track Board Map. This board is an example with information for mountain bikes and general bicycles.

See also