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Logo. Feature : Lanes
One example for Feature : Lanes
To tag individual lanes of a road together with their distinctive properties.

lanes=*, turn:lanes=*, destination:lanes=*, access:lanes=*, ...

taginfo *:lanes


The subkey :lanes can be used to tag individual lanes of a road.

The similar main key lanes=* counts the number of traffic lanes.

Lane-specific information can be expressed on a way by suffixing the key with :lanes. This suffix is applicable to any existing <key>=<value> tag pair. The value of that tag then contains the values for each lane separated by a | (vertical bar) in left-to-right order as viewed in the respective driving direction of those lanes. If the value of a specific lane is left blank, the (possibly assumed/implicit) value of the main key without :lanes-suffix applies (the so called default value).

In the common case of two driving directions either :forward or :backward is added to the end of the key; i.e., <key>:lanes:forward describes the properties of the lanes in the same direction as the osm-way, whereas <key>:lanes:backward described the properties of the lanes in the opposite direction of the osm-way.

Please be aware that this extension covers all kinds of lanes for all kind of vehicles and is not restricted to motorized traffic.


In principle every tag used to describe properties of a road can be extended by the :lanes suffix when its value depends on the lane. Following list gives an overview of potentially useful combinations and a short description when they might be needed:

Road property Lane specific key Description
access=* hgv:lanes, psv:lanes... Useful if access depends on the lane: For example lanes can be restricted to buses (psv:lanes) or forbidden for heavy good vehicles (hgv:lanes).
maxspeed=* maxspeed:lanes Can be used for roads where the maximum allowed speed depends on the lane. See example below.
turn=* turn:lanes Allows description of designated turn lanes or which lanes will merge in the direction of travel. See detailed examples below.
minspeed=* minspeed:lanes Useful for roads where some lanes require a minimum speed or where lanes have different minimum speed.
surface=* surface:lanes Lane dependent surfaces, for example if there is cobblestone on the outer lane
destination=* destination:lanes While the road specific key describes the direction of the highway by using the name of the city the highway is heading to, the destination:lanes allows tagging of cities when sign-posted for individual lanes. See destination=* for examples.
width=*, maxwidth=* maxwidth:lanes, width:lanes Where necessary, the width of lanes can be tagged. As usual maxwidth:lanes would describe a legal width restriction and width:lanes the actual width of a lane.
maxheight=* maxheight:lanes A height restriction may vary from one lane to another if the road passes beneath an overpass that is inclined or arched.
hov=* hov:lanes If one or more lanes of the road are restricted to high-occupancy vehicles (typically vehicles with 2+ occupants, although this varies by jurisdiction). Most useful if entrance/egress is permitted at any point along the route; if entering or exiting the HOV lane(s) is only permitted at certain locations, modeling the HOV lane(s) as separate ways is preferable.

Different maxspeed per lane (with/without default values)

A simple lane dependent maxspeed example with road sign (one-way street and a general speed limit of 100 assumed):

CH-Hinweissignal-Anzeige von Fahrstreifen mit Beschränkungen.svg
Without the use of default values:

Using default values:

Considering backward compatibility it might be preferred to tag this using default values.

Two driving directions

In the common case of two driving directions either :forward or :backward is added to the end of the key.


This is a road with three lanes in each direction and heavy good vehicles are prohibited on the leftmost lane in each direction.

The lanes are viewed in the respective driving direction; i.e., hgv:lanes:forward describes the lanes in the same direction as the osm-way. The first lane-value refers to the leftmost lane in this direction. Whereas hgv:lanes:backward describes the lanes in the opposite direction of the osm-way.

Minimum speed

Road with a sign-posted minimum speed, which applies to one lane only. Can be tagged as:

Zeichen 526-31 - Fahrstreifentafel; Darstellung mit Gegenverkehr und mit integriertem Zeichen 275 StVO - zwei Fahrstreifen in Fahrtrichtung und ein Fahrstreifen in Gegenrichtung, StVO 1992.svg

Please note the final | character in the value of minspeed:lanes:forward: Because the right-most lane has no minimum speed, no value should be tagged after the lane separator.

Motorway with lanes and destinations

The following example demonstrates the tagging of a motorway.

Lanes Example vert7.png Left part: lanes=3
Right part: lanes=1
Lanes Example vert6.png Left part: lanes=2
Right part: lanes=2
Lanes Example vert5.png lanes=4 (**)
Lanes Example vert4.png lanes=4


Lanes Example vert3.png lanes=3

destination:lanes=A|A;B|B (*)

Lanes Example vert2.png lanes=3

turn:lanes=slight_left|slight_left;slight_right|slight_right (*)

Lanes Example vert1.png lanes=3
destination:lanes=A|A;B|B (*)

* These tags show how to add more than one value to a single lane, by separating those values with a ; (semi-colon).
** There is no physical separation between the upper two lanes and the lower ones, just a double solid line. While the editing standards recommends splitting the ways only when a physical separation is present, in many regions the ways are already split in case of a legal separation like a double solid line. In such a case both resulting ways should be tagged with lanes=2.

Crossing with a designated lane for bicycles

The following example demonstrates tagging lanes with different kinds of traffic.

Kreuzung mit Radspur.jpg

Some more examples can be found on this cycling page (German language).

Pay attention to the value of the lanes=* key. The number of lanes is referred to the lanes available to the traffic using the main highway=* key, in this example and also by definition of lanes=* key motorized traffic, what excludes bicycle lanes. See the proposal of the :lanes suffix for further explanation.

Note: Access tags, like "bicycle:lanes", depend on the country and other circumstances:
"bicycle:lanes=yes|no|designated|yes" value is result of fact that in this case bicycles are obligated to use bicycle lane in certain circumstances (e.g. as long as cyclist is not turning left or right or the cycle way is obstructed or otherwise not practicable, or the bike is too wide (e.g. trailer) and would encumber other cyclists). In other countries where use of bicycle lane is not fully obligatory for cyclists, like in Germany, tagging may be "bicycle:lanes=yes|yes|designated|yes".

Designated Motorcycle Lanes

When tagging lanes you should only be counting lanes=* that are wide enough to fit a car (if it could fit a smart car or it's borderline then most likely you should still count it.)


1 and 2 can both take motor_vehicles, but lanes 3 and 4 cannot.
Motorcycles can use lanes 2, 3, and 4.
Lanes 3 and 4 are designated as motorcycle lanes.


If there is additional signage indicating that the left two lanes are for motor vehicles and the right two are not.


Editor support


The style Lane and Road Attributes visualizes, amongst others, a variety of lane-dependent tags directly while editing, and also detects some common tagging mistakes like e.g. inconsistent number of lane-dependent values. The image below shows a oneway=yes road tagged with the keys turn:lanes=*, width:lanes=* and placement=*.

JOSM Style Road Attributes Example 1.jpeg

See also