Proposal:Obligatory vs. optional cycletrack

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Obligatory vs. optional cycletracks
Proposal status: Inactive (inactive)
Proposed by: ulamm
Tagging: obligatory=yes vs. no
Applies to: linear
Definition: Legal status of roadside cycletracks that must be used by cyclists versus those
that are reserved for them but need not be used

Rendered as: modifications of cycletrack signtures
Draft started: 2015-05-09
RFC start: 2015-05-09


Optional oneway cycletrack in Germany without roadsigns
Optional twoway cycletrack in Germany, right of the road
and left of the road
cycletrack signs
cycletrack cycle- and
obligtory Nederlands verkeersbord G11.svg Nederlands verkeersbord G12a.svg
optional Nederlands verkeersbord G13.svg

The traffic laws of several coutries provide two classes of cycletracks. One class must be used, i. e. cyclists must not ride on the adjacent carriageway. The other class is reserved for bicycles (resp. one subtype of it for pedestrians and cyclists on equal right of way), but cyclists have the choice to use the cycletrack or the carriageway.

The Netherlands, France and Austria have special roadsigns for both classes of cycletracks. In Germany, ordinary optional cycletracks have no roadsigns, bidirectional ones are marked with additional signs without principal signs.

cycletrack signs
cycletrack adjacent cycletrack
and sidewalk
shared cycle-
and footway
obligtory Vorschriftszeichen 16.svg Vorschriftszeichen 17a-b.svg Vorschriftszeichen 17a-a.svg
optional Hinweiszeichen 27.svg Hinweiszeichen 28b.svg Hinweiszeichen 28a.svg


Up to now, a clear tag to distinguish these two classes has been missing.

In 2009, the access-tag official was proposed under the impression of German traffic law. But it misunderstands the law, as optional cycletracks are official as well, being reserved for cycling (see above) and having to be maintained by the local traffic authorities.

In 2011, a team of politically active cyclists from Lübeck enhanced bicycyle tagging in order to produce an OSM-based cyclist city map. They use bicycle=desginated rather than (alternatively) bicycle=official for obligatory cycletracks in contrast to bicycle=yes for optional ones. Nevertheless, bicycle=desginated had been established in 2008/2009 to substitute highway=cycleway by the combination of {key|highway|path}} + bicycle=desginated. The innovations had been approved, but even a larger majority approved to maintain the usage of highway=cycleway.

In 2013, for carriageways with separately drawn roadside cycletracks, bicyle=use_cyclway was proposed, which in a third approach resulted in the approval of bicyle=use_sidepath in April 2014. The initiators do not like to extend this tag on road-lines with road-tagged cycletracks.

In June 2014, for British cycle lanes the key manadatory was proposed, but as in U.K. all cycling fycilities are optional for cyclists, the use of the term "mandatory" in British traffic law means "forbidden for other vehicles" = "reserved but only optional for cyclists".[1]

This way, a universal and unequivocal tag to record that feature is still missing.


French cycletrack signs
France road sign B22a.svg piste ou bande cyclable
France road sign C113.svg piste ou bande cyclable
conseillée et réservée

The term "obligatory" has two advantages:

  • Piste cyclable obligatoire" is the term in French traffic law.
  • The originally Latin word "obligator…" is common in quite a lot of languages, "obligatorio" in Spanish, "obrigatorio" in Portuguese, "obligatorisch" in German, "obbligatorio" in Italian, "obligatorní" in Czech.

The term "optional" is an international term as well.

Using both as values of the (unmentioned) parameter legal state instead of a Boolean[2] parameter "obligatory=yes/no" avoids too complicated tags in roadline-tagging of cycletracks. If there are different cycling facilities on either side of the road, combined tags are inevitable.

Applies to

The tag shall be available for road-tagged as well as separately drawn roadside cycletracks.


On road-tagged cycletracks the tagging depends on the geometrical road layout:

  • If there is only one cycletrack and no other cycling facility, simply tag cycleway=obligatory or cycleway=optional.
  • If there are more than one cycling facilities, combine with other specifications such as "right", "left" or "both":

cycleway:right=obligatory, cycleway:left=optional

On speratately drawn roadside cycletracks tag highway=cycleway and cycleway=obligatory the usage of the first value as the second parameter is parallel to highway=footway and footway=sidewalk on spearately drawn sidewalks.

Of course, the same tagging of the legal status is possible with highway=path + bicycle=designated + cycleway=obligatory and, dependent to the designation, also foot=designated.

In all ways of mapping, the directionality of the cycletrack must not be forgotten.


Obligatory and optional cycletracke my be distinguished by the shape of signatures (bold vs. feeble line, continuous vs. dashed) or by colours. There are possible conflicts with other specifications such as surface quality or width.

The optimal way of rendering the legal state and other specifications has to be found by testing the various options when specifical dates have been tagged for several local road systems.


The values *=obligatory and *=optional belong to the access-tag-category. cycleway=* isn't about access, it's about street-layout. What you want is bicycle=obligatory/optional but we already have the meanings to tag obligational use (which really only implies: don't use the street) with bicycle=use_sidepath on the street. I see absolutely no need for yet another tag. --Nadjita (talk) 09:04, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

On the necessity of the tag:
As I've written above, the initiator of bicycle=use_sidepath accepts that tag only, if the cycletrack is drawn separately, but there are also (in reality) obligatory cycletracks recorded without a separately drawn wayline.
Furthermore, a roadline tag for a feature expected to be rendered as a specification of the signature of the (separately drawn) cycletrack makes rendering very complicated.
On the term "obligatory":
It is important, if the term is unequivocal within road traffic.
And the usage on nudist areas (You mustn't be naked outside and you mustn't wear clothes inside.) does not contradict the usage on cycling facilities (You mustn't go by bike outside and you mustn't use other vehicles on them.)
As an alternative, "compulsory" would not be wrong, but "compulsory" is specificly English, while "obligatory" is universal.--Ulamm (talk) 15:12, 22 December 2014 (UTC)


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