Proposed features/Bench: replace seats by capacity

From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Replace seats by capacity
Proposal status: Canceled (inactive)
Proposed by: Martianfreeloader
Tagging: capacity=*
Applies to: node way
Definition: Number of people who can comfortably sit on the bench at one time
Draft started: 2022-09-28
RFC start: 2022-09-28


This proposal was retracted by the author on 2022-09-29 due to lack of support.


I propose to stop using seats=* on benches. Instead, capacity=* should be used. The meaning remains unchanged.

Existing tagging with amenity=bench + seats=* can be kept or replaced by the new key over time. Automation of the replacement is presumably very easy and safe.


To the author's knowledge, seats=* is only used on benches (amenity=bench). The key capacity=* has the exact same meaning, and is used for all objects other than benches. The purpose of this proposal is to overcome this inconsistency.

98% of the currently 330 thousand seats=* tags occur in combination with amenity=bench [1].


Exactly the same as seats=* until now. The tag can be used on benches, regardless of whether seats are physically separated or not (e.g. by armrests).

The Examples section of the amenity=bench wiki page currently only explicitly shows the seats=* tag for examples where the bench is physically divided into seats. However, the How to map section already implies that the tag can also be used on benches without such separation.


See wiki page for amenity=bench.


No changes.

Features/Pages affected



  • Do not use seats=* on benches anymore.

External discussions

  • Tagging mailing list


Please comment on the discussion page.

Adressing concerns

Not an objective property

As with virtually any proposal, the "This ain't objective" argument can be brought up here. It has also been suggested that width=* is a better tag, as it is considered more objective. However:

  • The proposal merely aims at a renaming of an already approved tag (seats=* -> capacity=*). As mentioned above, the meaning would remain completely unchanged.
  • For most benches, the capacity can be estimated fairly well with different people getting to estimates within ±1 of one another.
  • For the vast majority of bench users, capacity is a more useful information than width. Yet, width=* can still be tagged in addition if the mapper believes this is useful information.
  • Many tags in OSM have some degree of subjectivity: natural=scrub, roof:shape=*, smoothness=*, visibility=*, sac_scale=*, tracktype=*, ...

Seats is used elsewhere

  • 98% of the currently 330 thousand seats=* tags occur in combination with amenity=bench.
  • Outside benches, capacity=* (1.6 million occurrences) is used 500 times more often than seats=* (6 thousand occurrences outside benches).
  • In some situations, it makes sense to distinguish between capacity and seats (for example a stadium). Not so for benches. As a bench is a thing that is used for sitting, it is implied that capacity=* here refers to seating capacity.