MENTZ GmbH/Modellierungsvorschläge Verkehrswege

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The points below should provide support for the modeling of transport routes in OpenStreetMap. The topics are presenting a collection of information, which was taken from OSM-Wiki. The aim is to reflect the guidelines for modeling real features. We are thankful for any annotations and comments: MENTZ Kontakt

Access to our other topics:

Transport Routes

This abstract describes the modeling of tracks and streets, where public transport is active. Important aspects for the routing and the visualisation are listed here.

Streets way

Streets are marked with the "key" highway=*. For "streets with more tracks" the "OSM-attribute" lanes=* will be applied. The tag "lanes" is used to indicate the number of tracks, which can be used by motorized traffic.

If there is a footway or a bicycle way next to the street, the following tags are used:

Bicycle way= bicycle=use_sidepath

Footway= foot=use_sidepath.

Streets with and without bicycle paths

A bicycle rider has the option to ride "on the street" or "on the bicyle path". The following tagging methods should be applied:

  • The drawing direction should be specified, so the bicycle driver knows on which side of the street he has to ride.
  • For example: In the driving direction is oneway:bicycle=yes and against the driving direction is oneway:bicycle=-1. If it's forbidden to ride in any direction, "no" is used.
  • The value „yes“ is used for "in drawing direction" and -1 for "against the drawing direction", where bicyles are allowed.

Bus lanes

Tracks, which are only for busses are tagged with: highway=service + access=no +psv=yes or bus=yes. This tag is only used on streets, where bus lanes are clearly separated from the actual track. If there are missing streets with bus traffic, they have to be delineated.

Streets inside bus stations shouldn't be allowed for pedestrians. Pedestrians should use the footways and the streets only if there is a transition. This condition is fulfilled, if on the streets of the bus station the tag highway=service is connected with the tag service=driveway.

Bridges way

Key Value Description
man_made=* bridge for bridges
area=* yes relevant for areas
name=* "Name" Name of the bridge

Rails way


Usually, the rails shouldn't be edited. But if there are missing rails, which is usually the case in the subway, they should be delineated. Furthermore, the relations have to be updated.

More tags for the railway infrastructure are available under OpenRailwayMap/Tagging

Key Value Description Model
railway rail Rail for train
tram Rail for tram
subway Rail for subway
monorail A monorail can go on rails like a magnetic levitation hovertrain or a suspension railway (e.g. the Wuppertaler Schwebebahn). For the suspension railway the tag monorail=hanging should be added.
Monorail in Kuala Lumpur
level integer Level, on which the rail is located; rail level and platform level should have the same value!
ref integer Reference number of the switch; is usually marked at the switchpoint light.
name Name Only if meaningful. For example: Regular track
highspeed yes/no Highspeed traffic
maxspeed integer Maximum speed
operator Name Operator of the rails
railway:bidirectional regular Bi-directional traffic
signals Signalised wrong line operation
possible Wrong line driving possible
railway:track_ref integer Railway track reference
railway:preserved yes/no Preserved track
usage main Main train
branch Light train
industrial Industrial track
service yard Service track
siding Siding track
spur Spur track
crossover Crossover track

Water way


To capture ferry lines, the route of the ferry should be roughly drawn on the water. Furthermore the tag route=ferry should be used. For simple ferry line this kind of modeling is sufficient. These tags can be added:

Key Value Description
route ferry Defines a ferry line
ref Number Reference number of the ferry line
operator Name Operator of the ferry line
network Name Traffic network, in which the ferry line is integrated
ferry:cable yes/no Indicating, if it's about a ferry cable

Furthermore there is a possibility to model ferry lines and route relations (type=route).

Bicycle paths way

In the following abstract are suggestions for mapping bicycle paths and footways. These are based on the suggestion of the discussion of the germany mailing list.

For more information about bicycle paths: Pressemitteilungen Radroutenplaner.

The modeling conditions of the bicycle ways for the bicycle route planner are defined in OSM from MVV.

If a bicycle path is on a street edge and has a traffic sign as a recognition, then bicycle=use_sidepath is used on the egde. See the abstract "Street".

The tag highway=path is problematic due to the fact that many paths in the forests are tagged like this. There are speculations to create a new tag, which should solve the mixtures of bicycle and foot paths.

Image/ Description Tags
signposted bicycle path (only allowed for bicycle riders)
Zeichen 237 - Sonderweg Radfahrer, StVO 1992.svg

If it's about a bicycle way, which is in parallel with the street, then highway=cycleway will be tagged with the combination of

Sidepath is important because the name won't be shown on the map with the tiles.

Signposted foot and bicycle path
120px-Zeichen 240.svg.png


Signposted foot and bicycle path with dividing line
120px-Zeichen 241.svg.png



This abstract describes all elements, where pedestrians get access to public transport. To use OSM-Data for routing, the modeling from a footway/ street to a platform would be the best solution. Elevators, ramps and escalators should enable a wheelchair accessible routing. Therefore the main emphasis should be put in these.

Footways way

Footways along street edges, which are leading to public transport, are captured with highway=footway. If there aren't existing any footways they have to be created. If a footway is created along a street edge, the edge gets the tag foot=use_sidepath. See the abstract "Street".

Image/Descritpion Tags
signposted footway
Zeichen 239 - Sonderweg Fußgänger, StVO 1992.svg

If the footway isn't signposted (e.g. pavements), the tag highway=footway is used with the combination of footway=sidewalk + name=*. The combination of these tags enables renderers, that the names don't appear on the map. The mapping of pavements makes the wheelchair routing easier, because additional information (e.g. height of the pavement: height=* or wheelchair accessible information for the pavement wheelchair=*) can be added.

Signposted foot and bicycle way
120px-Zeichen 240.svg.png


Signposted foot and bicycle way with dividing line
120px-Zeichen 241.svg.png


Pedestrian zone Mf Relation.svg area


For pedestrian zone and other areas with a concrete ground (for pedestrians), the tags highway=pedestrian,area=yes are used. Areas with names are additionally captured with name=*.

When a pedestrian zone consists of "holes" (e.g. accesses to subway or light rail), the outer polygon (pedestrian zone) and the inner polygon (access) are mapped seperately. Both are put in a relation type type=multipolygon.

If the polygons are already created but aren't in relation, the tag area=yes has to be added.

Examples are railway stations Prinzregentenplatz, Isartor and Karlsplatz (Image).

Tactile paving way node

With the tag tactile_paving=yes important objects for blind people are identified. These objects are mostly captured at the station environment. The tag on points (nodes) has a different meaning than on ways:

On a point (node) node the tag tactile_paving=yes is used when a footway is ending with an lowered curb at crossroads. Both footway sides are captured seperately.

A way way with tactile_paving=yes is a tactile strip. The tag can also be added to footways/ platforms, which means that the whole way/ platform has tactile paving.

Crossings node

The tags are being placed on the position, where two edges clash each other.

Crossing street and footway

Name and description of crossing Tags UK short names Image

Zebra crossing

A footway crossing without traffic lights which has white strips on the street. In the dark it is mostly lighted in yellow.




crossing=zebra Fussgaengerueberweg an einem Kreisverkehrs-Bypass.jpg
Pelican crossing
('traditional' designation in the UK)

Traffic lights which are only designed for pedestrians (can be button operated (button_operated=*) or not).


crossing=traffic_signals Traffic lights, which are directing the traffic (pedestrians, cars etc.).



traffic_signals:sound=yes Pedestrian traffic signals (Pelican/Toucan/Pegasus) with sound for the visually impaired.

traffic_signals:vibration=yes Pedestrian traffic signals (Pelican/Toucan/Pegasus) with vibration for the visually impaired.

crossing=pelican Fußgängerampel Handschaltung Stuttgart 2011.JPG Semaforopedonale.jpg
'Toucan' crossing
('traditional' designation in the UK)

Traffic lights which are designed for pedestrians and bicycle riders (can be button operated (button_operated=*) or not).


crossing=traffic_signals Traffic lights, which are directing the traffic (pedestrians, cars etc.).


segregated=no Indicating, that the crossing for pedestrians and bicycle riders is combined. segregated=yes indicates, that pedestrians and bicycle riders have seperate ways on the crossing.


traffic_signals:sound=yes Pedestrian traffic signals (Pelican/Toucan/Pegasus) with sound for the visually impaired.

traffic_signals:vibration=yes Pedestrian traffic signals (Pelican/Toucan/Pegasus) with vibration for the visually impaired.

crossing=toucan Toucan.jpg
Pedestrian crossing without traffic lights. highway=crossing


Crossing with traffic island. highway=crossing

crossing=island;uncontrolled (or traffic_signals)

Midblock median island.jpg

Crossing rail and footway

Name and description of the crossing Tags
Rail crossing from a pedestrian railway=crossing


crossing:light=yes/no with traffic lights

Crossing rail and street

Name and description of the crossing Tags
Crossing rail and street railway=level_crossing

Crossing rail and rail

Name and description of the crossing Tags
Crossing rail and rail. Used when two rails cross each other but can't change their own track. railway=railway_crossing

Steps, escalators, elevators and ramps

see Modellierungsvorschläge Indoor.