Proposal talk:Path

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Mixed discussion

First off, you say "the highway tag depends on physical properties". This is immediately contradicted by the existence of bridleway, cycleway, and footway. The distinction among them is purely a legal one. The proposed highway=path would be useful where:
  • The path in question is not a designated cycle path, foot path, or horse path.
Hmm, I don't think it is. What you describe is just the default in most places (public use allowed unless expressly forbidden). 'designated' is something different for the most part, as in the table above "designed to support this method of travel and marked as such". Just because something is not designated doesn't mean you can't use it, but if something is designated you can expect it to be suitable for that method (and depending on jurisdiction you may have a right-of-way to use it) --Hawke 16:09, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
  • The path in question is equally for use by cyclists and equestrians, because cycleway and bridleway each clearly emphasise one method of transport over all others.
  • The path in question is primarily designated for use by something other than horse, bicycle, or foot.
--Hawke 00:04, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
So it would be needed for snowmobile or skiing tracks where walking is not allowed at any time but where the physical appearance is too bushy and uneven for it to be classified as a highway=track (with motorcar=no) ? This seems like the only case requiring a new highway tag. If, say, a snowmobileway looked like a footway and walking was allowed, it'd be a footway with snowmobile=designated. Thinking of cross country skiing, would it include maintained skiing tracks on icy lakes? Alv 09:04, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
There are other paths besides snowmobile and ski tracks. For snowmobile routes: around here, there are many snowmobile routes which only really exist as a route in winter. The rest of the year, they're unmaintained as a route, and will just look like any other field or forest or whatever. For ski trails: there are several which are signed (designated) as ski trails, but which are also indicated as other traffic being prohibited, due to the erosion caused when there's no snow. Would you have it tagged highway=footway+foot=no(+ski=yes)? That seems silly. As to ski trails on lakes, I see no reason not to include them. --Hawke 16:09, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Clearly highway tags don't represent physical properties. Otherwise every motorway has to be tagged with highway=motorway, foot=no, bicycle=no, moped=no, agriculture=no, horse=no. Also some footways would be suitable for bicycles. Those footways would then be tagged with highway=cycleway, bicycle=no, foot=yes. If highway tag doesn't define access, all cycleways should be tagged with highway=cycleway, access=no, bicycle=yes. For routing algorithms every way has to have clear access properties for every type of transport. Also designated snowmobileways and maybe mopedways and skiing trails would need some kind of a highway tag. Which highway tag represents the physical properties for these? Also highway=pedestrian seems to define access rather than physical properties. --PetskuH 00:53, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
I would leave the "physical feasability" (in Alvs comment) totally out. I think we need a better granularity in the "surface" key, or an extra "smoothness" key to describe the physical properties of the surface of the way. It totally depends on your bike (and you) wether you can physically drive on a way with your bike or not. A good MTB cyclist can probably drive on more paths than my grandmother can walk on. I think the logically correct way of classifying "ways" (that you can travel on) would be to tag every "way" as way=yes (or path=yes, since way is used already?). The highway tag describes properties that are important for car-driving. If it is a footpath, it should read highway=no. The bicycle tag describes properties of a way that are important for bicycles. The "surface" tag would then describe the surface, and the "hiking" tag some special properties for important for hiking. So this proposal, in my eyes, is a compromise, but exactly in the right direction. If we want, we could easily introduce a way=yes later and replace highway=path with highway=no. As I am writing this, I propose to write a proposal "cleanup of the highway tag". The main incentive of the highway tag should be "what kind of highway is that?". We should than have a tag "cycleway" (instead of "bicycle") that answers the question "what type of cycleway is that?". The values "footway", "cycleway", "bridleway", "pedestrian" and "steps" should be removed from "highway". Does anybody agree? --Chrischan 08:28, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
From a UK perspective - a public footpath, public bridleway, or a public byway are actually highways legally. A highway needn't be able to carry motorised vehicles. Let's keep these on the highway tag. Richard B 00:59, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
I see, that's where it comes from. Webster says "a public way; especially: a main direct road". I guess, most people from different countries (like me) know only the second meaning. Ok, so lets stay with the highway tag for paths. Nevertheless I think we should
  • open a proposal to extend the access stuff with "designated" and "impossible"
  • open a proposal to add a highway value of "path" for highways that are no road, and cannot clearly classified as "cycleway", "footway" or "bridleway"
  • open a proposal to deprecate "cycleway", "footway" and "bridleway" (I feel lots of resistance against it, so it will probably not get approved.
  • try to unite the bicycle=yes/no/designated/impossible and the cycleway=lane/track/opposite... stuff. There are no overlapping values, we could just unite them and call them EITHER cycleway OR bicycle
A general thing: I think it is important to have ONE scheme that we propagate. Deprecating something doesn't mean that it is forbidden or something, people can continue to use it, if they want. They can type in everything anyway. But I think, there should be ONE consistent, logically correct and computationally usable solution that is propagated on the website. --Chrischan 07:52, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
I strongly think so too (to keep current highways), yet I feel the need for the addition of a path: a path is a route designed for some method of transport, but which doesn't fit the existing highway tags because on it
  • car travel is impossible (so it's not a track)
  • foot travel is forbidden or "like theres no path at all", i.e. a passageway in the forest for snowmobiles or a skiing track on ice - most of the year one can't walk over water
  • it's shouldn't be a footway because granny wouldn't use it so it's not level enough to be a cycleway or bridleway, either. - hiking trails and narrow footpaths from erosion of use in forests fit this (other tags in other proposals are discussed to describe them in more detail).
Then the description could be (amending the proposal's description): highway=path is a generic path, either multi-use, or unspecified usage and too small to be a track or too uneven to be a footway. The default access restriction of highway=path is "open to all non-motorized vehicles", but a path has no guarantees of passability by other methods than specified by i.e. foot=yes or snowmobile=designated. Default renderers could choose to render only those with a yes or designated for foot and bicycle as something even less prominent than a footway. Other combinations are probably for specialist maps. Only the forest trails now marked as a footway but which, say, require hiking shoes, could be moved to be a highway=path so a footway would imply some level of physical structure. Alv 08:24, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Richard, I don't think anyone was proposing moving away from the highway key (well, some of the out-of-scope proposals below are, but that's not this proposal). --Hawke 17:20, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

I really like the actual proposal. Now, after 2 month of silence we should finalized it on vote for it. Because the this proposal will make mapping much easier. --Cbm 12:44, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Designated vs. Designation

I'd prefer adding a tag designation=horse or designation=foot;bicycle to the extension of access=. Robx 17:13, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Robx: in voting you mentioned that you'd like to see designation=* -- what would possible values for that be? --Hawke 17:42, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

As I stated above (just rearranged the discussion a little), I was thinking of designation=horse or designation=foot;bicycle but I could also imagine designation=bridleway or designation=cycleway. In fact, why not the former in general and the latter for these special UK-rights-of-way? Robx 14:25, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

It's unclear how the designation tags are intended to be used -- and how to denote "true" footpaths/bridleway/byway, etc. as opposed to their permissive counterparts or un-designated ways using this scheme -- plus the relationship with pedestrian is also unclear. It would be really useful to have a decent table laying out the options and the impact on the scheme as currently specified in UK_public_rights_of_way. Is highway=footway equivalent to (highway=path + foot=designated) or is (highway=footway + foot=yes) equivalent to (highway=path + foot=designated)? Many paths are jointly shared for pedestrians and cyclists EQUALLY -- so should these paths have two designated values? --Ndm 00:00, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

Why I voted no

First, I don't see the interrest to say that a footway is designated for pedestrians and a cycleway is designated for cycles because it is obvious. If some tags are not clear enough as it seems to be for some people, then we just need a better description in the wiki. And secondly, I also saw at the same time another proposal for highway=road. Where all those proposals have good reasons, the result is that we have generic names highway=unclassified (which is already misunderstood by some people), highway=path and highway=road which will increase the confusion, especially for the newbies. Third, I'm convinced that this project will only succeed if the tagging schema is not too complex and will not require a too long learning phase. I have the feeling that single tags are very popular because we are all lazy guys and when I see new tagging schema where 3 or 4 key/values will replace the old single one, I'm very sceptical... Pieren 10:16, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

I also vote no because of the following reasons:

  1. The examples page states that things will become much more complicated with this one. a footway is for walking, a cycleway for cycling. Designation semantically included. with this proposal, all signs should be included in OSM, but that won't work because there will be inconsistent way signs somewhere.
  2. The "first example", that one without a picture, it given as the most powerful example why we need this. But it can be solved simply by adding any other highway-tag for snow mobile routes.
One for snowmobile-routes, one for cross-country-skiing tracks, one for atv-paths, maybe even one for penguin-or-sheep-induced-trails, one for jungle liana "paths" and whatever types of non-footways anyone might come across. If deprecation is not approved but path is, all these could be under the path as they could be used for transportation but only by those methods specifically mentioned. Alv 09:55, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
  1. The primary attribute, "highway=*", should IMHO give the renderer a quick and generic information about how to handle this way. This proposal kills this information and makes it necessary to look up further attributes. It turns highway=path into something abstract, opposed to all other values for this key.
-- Bwurst 07:56, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
Some comments about your objections:
  1. Things will not become more complicated if we keep footway, cycleway etc. as they exist now. They should be seen as "shortcuts" with a defined translation to the detailled tagging scheme.
  2. We can of course solve the problem by adding another highway value. We would also need a highway value for a bicycle+foot designation and for whatever more obscure situation may exist somewhere in the wild, even if it is rare.
  3. Rather than making up highway values for all of these, I'd prefer having a method capable of describing every situation – like the one in this proposal. We can (and should) nevertheless keep/create highway values for common cases – this would allow mappers and renderers (and also tools like mkgmap) to continue as before, except that it would be possible to map the uncommon cases, too.
--Tordanik 09:26, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
So you propose to have multiple tagging standards for the same thing? Is this a good idea? -- Bwurst 09:59, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
It wouldn't really be multiple tagging standards, as things like "cycleway" would really just be a short form for a collection of yes/designated values (de facto with a built-in rendering hint and some implicit ideas about width etc.). Basically, I'd choose the "traditional" form everywhere it fits, thus having only one tagging standard in practice: Use highway values where they exist and yes/designated-descriptions where no highway value exists. --Tordanik 10:28, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Well this is just going to complicate what was simple .... 'path' would pe perfect to be the foot version of the 'track' tag, a footway which is traced by the frequent use of it but wich is not or does not look really 'official' but not replace the 'highway' tag for non motorized vehicles --PhilippeP 18:25, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
I don't think the proposal will make anything more complicated. Deprecation of existing highway tags probably won't get approved, so nothing will change. Path would be really useful in my country, where we have virtually no designated footways but plenty of unofficial paths. access=designated is quite complicated, but it would be used only for complicated cases where current tags can't be used. --Jttt 18:43, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes but the access addition has nothing to do with the path tag and as it is included in the proposal, I cannot agree with it, a path is not a footway , is not a cycleway , is not ... --PhilippeP 07:16, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Related Proposal: Hiking

Seems that Proposed_features/Hiking is affected by this proposal. Should we incorporate both into one? SlowRider 21:18, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
It is not really affected beyond the fact that the "applies to" paragraph of that proposal should also include highway=path, if this proposal gets voted onto the map features page. So, merging them makes no sense (IMHO). --Cartinus 23:38, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Cartinus. --Hawke 00:13, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Discussion outside the scope of this proposal

Idea: Highway attribute for "generic road" and smaller "path" too narrow for cars.

The current highway classification is quite complicated as several attributes are implied in a tag like "highway=motorway" (physical attributes (width, quality of the surface, ...), legal restrictions (no access for pedestrians, you have to drive "fast", ...), ...). But I think we all agree more or less on our perception of a "motorway" or a "primary road". There are not that many different important/clearly to classify road types. All other roads are unclassified or residential (if part of a village/town). For smaller roads where the classification is more complicated and that are unpaved/unsealed we have the "tracks" together with attributes like "surface" or "grade". These tracks are wide enough for vehicles with four wheels. For even smaller ways we have the footway, cycleway and bridleway.

I think we should abandon these. Instead we need two new highway attributes: one for a generic road that can be used by vehicles with four wheels and one for a smaller path (too narrow for vehicles with four wheels). These highways can be classified using tags for surface and access and so on. Maybe we could use "unclassified" for my proposed generic road.

  • What used to be a "cycleway" would become a highway=unclassified, access=no, bicycle=designated (foot=yes if appropriate)
  • A small "footway" in a village would become a highway=path, foot=designated
  • A mountain hiking trail is a highway=path, foot=designated, hiking=mountain (see Proposed_features/Hiking)
  • A mountainbike trail is a highway=path, bicycle=designated, foot=yes
  • We could even abandon "pedestrian" as this would be a highway=residential, foot=designated, access=no, bicycle=yes
  • Also "track" could be tagged as highway=unclassified, surface=unpaved

I hope you get what I intend. What do you think? --Mgeiser 21:43, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

I do, but I think it's outside the scope of this proposal. In case you do turn this block into a separate proposal, I would consider the typical 'cycleway' to be more of a path than an unclassified road, and I would say that "unclassified" fits the bill for the generic road. --Hawke 22:43, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
This is almost exactly what I have in mind. I think we should try to split it up in several proposals, and I think that won't be too difficult. If we wrap it into one "clean up highway" proposal, as I suggested earlier, I fear it will not be approved. --Chrischan 07:52, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
  • what I see here, is that the highway tag might become more and more complicate to use by incorporating too much "non car" things

what I like in this proposal is "highway=path is "open to all non-motorized vehicles"" as a way to move away paths from highway, then why not try to turn it all the way round by a :

  • path=footway
  • path=cycleway
  • path=horseway

path being a main tag ? sounds complicate given the actual state of the DB but I like the previous proposal to write a proposal about cleaning up the highway tag to return to the true meaning of highways

then the logic of a xxx=designated become implicit in the path=xxxway tag

one tag only becomes enough just like highway=motorway is enough to say foot=no, cycle=no, horse=no Sletuffe 00:26, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Although I totally agree with your first statement, I don't agree with the proposed solution. With this schema we would *still* have the problem of paths that cannot clearly be classified as "horseway" or "footway". I like the proposal of Mgeiser above better, and it is easy to split up and we might get something approved. --Chrischan 07:52, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Sletuffe, I disagree. Just changing the main key, doesn't solve any of our problems. A path=* would still be inappropriate for most of the ways, since they are mostly of a multi-use type. -- motp 18:57, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
I'd support splitting "highway" into "highway" and "path" as suggested, no matter what comes of the present proposal. Robx 17:07, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

"designated" vs "yes"

The designated value is confusing me. I don't understand what the extra value of it is compared to "yes", given the fact that a way of transport either is allowed on the road, or it isn't.
For example: on a cycleway mopeds are always allowed unless there's an exception sign. So, does that make moped=yes instead of moped=designated only because the sign at the beginning of the cycleway doesn't have a moped depicted?
Likewise, when there's no sidewalk or footway, pedestrians can follow a cycleway (signed with the usual blue round bicycle sign) when there is one. So while the pedestrians have legal access to it, it's still no foot=designated, even though legally there's not a single difference if it was signed with the bicycle + pedestrian blue round sign?
Or, why would a path with a no access sign (the white round sign with red brim) with a message below "except bicycles" be tagged differently than a path signed with a blue round bicycle sign?
In short, I just don't understand the reason behind making a difference between "yes" and "designated", so please explain me... --Eimai 16:13, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

Hawke's explanation/answer: "Yes" indicates that:

  • A route is physically suitable for use by the mode of transport in question
  • There are no visible or otherwise known restrictions to use by the mode of transport in question (e.g. a sign saying "no bicycles allowed")

On the other hand, "designated" indicates that:

  • The route is probably suitable for use by the mode of transport in question (but the surface may have deteriorated after signs were put in place, for example).
  • There are visible indications that a route is intended for use by the mode of transport in question (e.g. a sign saying "bike route")


  • In a jurisdiction where mopeds are allowed on cycleways, a path signed as a cycleway with no exception restricting mopeds would be bicycle=designated+moped=yes, because there is a sign indicating that the route is intended for biycles, and there is no indication that mopeds are restricted.
  • A path signed as a cycleway which is legally usable by pedestrians only because there is no alternative footway would be bicycle=designated+foot=yes, because there is an indication that the path is intended for bicycles and no indication that pedestrians are restricted.
  • A path with an "no access except bicycles" sign would be access=no+bicycle=yes, because there is an indication that general access is forbidden, but no indication that bicycles are forbidden.

--Hawke 07:47, 27 May 2008 (UTC)


One thing I'm wondering about this proposal is the default access rights. If a way has only highway=path it implies foot=yes, bicycle=yes, horse=yes and so on. But if there is at least one access tag (foot, bicycle, horse or other) then highway=path implies foot=no, bicycle=no, horse=no and so on. This is not a problem as long as people use only those access tags defined in Key:access. If some user defined access tag (for example tricycle) is used, it is impossible for other people and routing programs especially to know whether highway=path implies =yes of =no values if they don't recognize the tag as an access tag. --PetskuH 10:47, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Two things:
  • I don't think having at least one access tag implies that the others are 'no'. This is not how I've understood it to be with the other highway values. It should be treated exactly the same as any other highway, IMO. (with the exception that access for motorized vehicles (whatever the tag for that may be) should be "no" on this one.
  • Take a look at Proposed_features/access:_name_space, which I think could help with the problem of recognizing any/all access tags.
--Hawke 06:00, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
In the usage section of the proposal: "highway=path+foot=designated is considered equivalent to highway=footway". In this highway=path states that it is open to all non-motorized vehicles and foot=designated only makes it designated for pedestrians, i.e. bicycles, horses and skiers are all allowed. If footways are for pedestrians only, access=no would also be needed. --PetskuH 08:46, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Designated does not belong in the access key

The fact a cycleway is designated a cycleway has nothing to do with who can access it. A cycleway could be designated yet have private, permissive or unknown access. For example pretty much all permissive bridleways and footpaths are going to be designated. If they are not designated how would you know they exist? Private or permissive cycleways are also likely to be designated. Designated needs to be in a separate key so a way can be both permissive and designated. --Thewinch 16:54, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

If the landowner was to withdraw access, he or she would have to remove the sign making it designated, right? Doesn't a permissive path then require it being designated, too, if access on private property is otherwise forbidden? I wouldn't know because "permissive ways" don't exist in some other countries, mine included (any way is accessible if it doesn't go through someones home yard). Access rights can thus vary on two axes, public/permissive/private and designated/yes/tolerated/no (+unknown to both) and presenting them on one scale needs at least more exact definitions. You're right that the permissiveness hasn't been addressed in the definition written in the proposal, but could a simple addition of "designated as intended for a particular use, as opposed to such use merely being allowed and not a permissive path" suffice? If it's permissive, there is a sign stating (permissive) right to access and if it's public space, access could then be 'yes' or 'designated'. Alv 19:15, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
Over here road signs are still valid even if they're on private property and public access is permitted (like on parkings of shops for example). The access on those roads is permissive (the owner could always close it with a fence for example), so what to do if a cycleway runs through that parking for example to a bicycle parking near the entrance? The cycleway is bicycle=designated (cyclists have right of way over pedestrians), but it's also bicycle=permissive since it's a private path... --Eimai 19:48, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
If there wasn't a cycleway sign, would one be allowed to use it or does it depend on if it's fenced or signposted as "private/keep out"? If it was private property and without a cycleway sign, it'd be bicycle=no and only a sign can make it permissive? The proposal was that only 'yes' would be split into 'yes' and 'designated'. Alv 05:38, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
Let's give following example: at one of the university campuses here there is a cycleway running through it. This cycleway is private property from the university, but it's public space: meaning that one can usually freely walk/cycle on them. That means that the traffic law still applies there, so on a cycleway pedestrians have to give way to cyclists (like on non-private cycleways). But it also means that the university could close the way anytime they want (which in this case doesn't happen often, but it does now and then), and there are gates at each side of the cycleway to close it. So, we here end up with a path which is bicycle=permissive, but also which is bicycle=designated. If you introduce the designated tag to give the extra information which types of transport have designated access, one would thus be unable to to that for these permissive access paths.
Sure it does, I don't have a picture, but these are often signed with a home-made sign "private road, access allowed for pedestrians and cyclists", or more officially: the no access traffic sign (white round with red brim), a notice "private road" below it and the exception sign "except cyclists". --Eimai 15:01, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
On the other hand, I hope I don't understand the designated tag completely wrong, as I still have no idea what use it has, since I mentioned above somewhere: you either are allowed access or you aren't. I don't understand the difference at all, you have the traffic laws which tell you exactly whether you can enter a path or not. The fact that there is a sign at the beginning showing your exact transport type doesn't give any difference. --Eimai 12:51, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
But the right of way is for pedestrians crossing the cycleway, not for walking and cycling on the same path. Furthermore if a cycleway has the round blue bicycle sign and is not part of another road and no other path next to it, pedestrians are also allowed on it, and in fact has the same status as if it were signed with a blue round sign with a pedestrian and a bicycle. A pedestrian also can't block the path for cyclists either and not let him pass if the road is wide enough to let him pass, combined footway/cycleway sign or not.
So, for these kind of paths which don't belong to another road, whether it has a cycleway sign, or whether it has a combined footway/cycleway sign, the rules are exactly the same over here for both, but yet you want to tag them differently... --Eimai 14:57, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
I guess one of the problems here is that the combined footway/cycleway sign is a new traffic sign only introduced several years ago, so many of these paths are just tagged with the cycleway sign and as a result the allowed pedestrian access if there is no path next to it which is for footways (in that case, the cycleway is foot=no).
Anyway, the problem I keep seeing is that if a path allows access to transport types X, Y and Z, the traffic rules say how they should behave in combination with each other, and not the traffic sign. But I guess they're are different rules about it in different countries, yet I was hoping someone would come up with an example (maybe in all the discussion I missed it somewhere?)... Perhaps I'm focussing too much on the traffic rules over here :-) and those rules give me no single good usage for the designated tag, but maybe somewhere else in the world there is one?
Anyway, time to close the discussion, the majority apparently still wants the designated tag, and the indentation starts getting big :-) --Eimai 18:36, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Attempted explanation of 'designated' value

Hopefully this can clear up at least a bit of the confusion surrounding the 'designated' access value.

I intend(ed) "designated" to be used where there is a definite indication that a route is intended for use by a given mode of transportation.

I used the meaning "indicates that a route has been specially designated (typically by a government) for use by a particular mode (or modes) of transport. The specific meaning varies according to jurisdiction. It may imply extra usage rights for the given mode of transport, or may be just a suggested route."

In general, "specially designated" means that there is a sign there saying something like "bicycles allowed", or a bicycle icon, or something along those lines.

As governments (national, regional, local, or whatever) are the ones who put up most of the signs, the designation is "typically by a government". However, in some cases (as with some permissive routes), the designation may be from a landowner. I'm sure there are other situations as well.

Clarification of the wording on the main page is definitely welcome.

--Hawke 07:47, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

I will now add some relatively concrete examples and country-specific commentary, hopefully to be included on the access=designated page -- or otherwise just for reference:

England and Wales
To me, this doesn't clear it up at all. Legally, a bridleway should also be designated for foot traffic surely?Richard B 09:04, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
The designation is only for one mode of transport (or rather, one per sign (or whatever sort of marking)). To take your example of a bridleway: In the UK, that designation also gives rights to other modes of transport (foot and bicycles) but it is still marked as being intended for horses, and not marked as being intended for anything else. Compare to Scotland just below: If your method were followed there, there would be no distinction at all between footway and bridleway.
There's also a routing advantage to using the single designation: All else being equal, a pedestrian should prefer a footway over a bridleway. And a cyclist should prefer a cycleway over a bridleway. Multiple designations remove that useful distinction.
The single designation also makes it easier to understand how to tag in a variety of jurisdictions. "A route is designated for what it shows on the sign, and the meaning of that designation depends on where you are" is a lot easier to understand than "In jurisdiction foo, a sign with a bicycle on implies this and that, while in jurisdiction bar a sign with a bicycle implies only this -- you need to have a sign with a bicycle and a pedestrian on to imply this and that. And over in jurisdiction baz it implies this, that, and the other, unless it says the other is not allowed".
That's just my 2 cents on the matter; I'm hardly the final authority on how the value should be defined, particularly for the UK. My perspective is based around the US (see below). --Hawke 16:49, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
I don't believe much of what you've said to be the case in the UK, sorry. Whilst a horse symbol is often shown (but often just the words "public bridleway"), it's also designated for foot use, and it also allows cycles. A walker probably wouldn't care if they are following a public bridleway or a footpath in my opinion. There's no routing advantage in following a footpath over a bridleway. It might be the opposite, as a lot of footpaths have poorer surfaces. Also, note that on a cycleway, cyclists must still give way to any pedestrians. I'm still not convinced that "yes" is any different to "designated". Of course, in Scotland, the distinction by my method would be clear. I would use highway=footway and highway=bridleway, rather than this designated nonsense. Richard B 10:06, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
In other countries the distinction can be beneficial. For UK users accepting 'designated' can be just to know that it exists and they can regards it as equal to yes when writing software. Likewise as some countries don't have permissive ways but users need to know how to interpret the value 'permissive'. Alv 18:57, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
Footways and bridleways are equivalent markings legally. [1]. However, they each have only have one designation. Footways are foot=designated+horse=yes. Bridleways are horse=designated+foot=yes. The designation does not give any additional usage rights (since the 2003 Land Reform Act)
In the US, most (or at least many) designated routes are not purpose-built. A route designation may be applied to pretty much anything. Most designations are by local government.
  • Bike route [2], [3] is applied to: roads (generally low-traffic); purpose-built paths; and ordinary sidewalks. Purpose-built paths may or may not be paved, but generally are. Sidewalks might be widened to reduce conflict with pedestrian traffic. gives a pretty good explanation of how it works (the article appears to be directed at local government interested in implementing a bike route system). Note the phrase "a bikeway system" -- as the designation of routes is a function of local government, there is no centralized "cycle network" or anything of that nature. Some local cycle route systems are interconnected though.

In general, the same situation applies to most types of designated routes. Some are designated for more than one type of traffic. The designation generally has no legal effect on other usage (Though local laws may vary of course). That is, a road may be designated as a bike route and a snowmobile route, but still be a road as used by automobiles.

One major exception: hiking/walking/foot paths. The vast (vast!) majority of foot paths are not indicated in any way. In some cases designation may be found in a map rather than as a sign or any visible indication at the path itself. (e.g. a marking in a map legend showing "hiking trails") --Hawke

Separate vote for designated tag?

Since with all the discussion above I have the impression that half of the people don't understand or don't agree on the exact meaning of designated, could we perhaps leave it out of the highway=path proposal and make the exact meaning clear first before having a separate vote for it, so we at least know what we agree or disagree with when voting? --Eimai 11:45, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

I agree with this 200%, like Olivia Newton John once said : "Let's Get Physical" :) --PhilippeP 12:23, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Emergency vehicles allowed?

Steve Hill mentioned that he didn't think access for emergency vehicles should default to yes. What about the situation where someone is injured on a path? In my area at least, emergency vehicles are allowed to go pretty much anywhere they need to, in an emergency. But I agree that paths probably shouldn't be used for emergency vehicle routing. Perhaps emergency=destination would work? --Hawke 16:48, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

It looks rather strange to add access rules to emergency vehicles, they're just allowed everywhere, they could drive through fields if they want. And I don't think OSM should really care about emergency vehicle access rules either... --Eimai 17:22, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
But it makes sense to map routes which only emergency vehicles may use, so emergency=* is valuable (and already exists). And the access=destination also already exists. So emergency=destination makes sense for paths, since emergency=yes might route emergency vehicles along them incorrectly. --Hawke 18:25, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
Let's assume the path is large enough to let pass an emergency vehicle (I doubt it because then I would tag it as a track) and it is a shortcut to the emergency need , why would the vehicle not take the shortcut ?? Let's see what would be the highway that an emergency vehicle would not take if needed .... --PhilippeP 19:07, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
Speed. Shorter is not the same as faster. It may not be possible or safe to drive an emergency vehicle at full speed down a narrow path, due to the danger of hitting trees along the path or hitting people biking or jogging who don't expect to see an emergency vehicle coming down the path. A quick google image search turned up this: [4]. It looks to me like you could fit a police car down there without much trouble, but you probably wouldn't want to drive it faster than 10-20 miles per hour, depending on how many people were otherwise using the path. --Hawke 19:44, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
Routing programs use speed coefficients for different types of highways. Program wouldn't route emergency vehicle on path unless its much shorter (and faster) then routing using better type of highway. Anyway, I don't thing emergency=yes should be default as most paths are not wide enough. --Jttt 19:59, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
I'll agree there. But would emergency=destination be a good default? --Hawke 20:30, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
Shortcut is not just less distance , it's also less time, I'm pretty sure a police car would go thru for an emergency if it would make them reach their destination faster ... And I'm pretty certain I would tag your pictured way as a cycleway or footway , not a path --PhilippeP 20:09, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps. It would be up to the judgment of the police officer in question. As to the picture: paths, cycleways, and footways are physically the same, so you can't tell what's most appropriate. But you wouldn't tag it as a track, even though it's wide enough to allow an emergency vehicle to pass. --Hawke 20:30, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
Why we need special tag for emergency? The path is either wide enough for cars and emergency vehicles can use it or it's not. If the path is wide enough it will probably be used by other vehicles too, for example by lawn service. --Jttt 20:56, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
We already have one. I'm not proposing it. It is useful because it is very common to have roads which are only legally allowed to be used by emergency vehicles. This is not the place to discuss whether emergency=* should exist. --Hawke 22:16, 28 May 2008 (UTC)