Proposal:Officially dedicated usage

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name=Officially dedicated usage.
Proposal status: Abandoned (inactive)
Proposed by: Nop
Tagging: access=official
Applies to: way
Definition: A way legally dedicated to specific kinds of traffic by law and/or by the rules of traffic.

Rendered as: Official traffic sign
Draft started: 2009-01-15
RFC start: 2009-01-17


Introduce a new value to the access tags foot, bicycle and horse, for ways legally dedicated to specific modes of travel by a law or by the rules of traffic. The tag is to signify the official, legal nature of the dedication.

In most cases, the official dedication also means that other modes of travel are prohibited. In some countries like Germany such a usage right is also mandatory ((In this description, the term "mandatory" is used in a totally different meaning than in the proposal of Key:mandatory, where it is used as asynonyme of "reserved".)), travelers must not use a parallel way if an official way is marked. The tag must only be used where there is a an official traffic sign or an unambiguous law. But exclusive or compulsory use is only a deduction based on local laws and traffic rules, it is not the meaning of the tag "official".

Add clarifications to the Wiki explaining the exact meanings of all values. Especially that access=official is used for legally dedicated use while access=designated is used for practical, recommended or assumed usage.

Based on repeated discussions on talk-de, this proposal is an attempt to resolve the dissent and differing use of the tags highway=footway, highway=cycleway, foot=designated and bicycle=designated by suggesting a means to express the intended statements of both interpretations without conflict. A central idea of this proposal is to be compatible to existing use as much as possible, to augment the system without redesigning it completely.


It is useful to express official legal rights of usage for a certain mode of travel, as you can make reliable conlusions about whether to use or avoid this way. In most cases, officially dedicated use for one mode of travel also means exclusive use, so it is prohibited to all others. If you are using that mode of travel, those ways are often preferred. If you are using another mode of travel, you may not use them and will have to find an alternate way or use the street. Thus this information is a major factor when planning a route on the map. It is absolutely required for creating reliable pedestrian or bicycle routing information. The information is very reliable as the legal implications are defined for each country. The significance compares to tags like oneway=yes or access=no in street traffic.

The only existing tag that could possibly express this is access=designated. Currently there is no consent on the meaning and use of this. In several discussions I was able to identify three contradicting points of view which I am trying to show in the following table. Each point of view is supported by some entries in the wiki, each is sound and logical when used by itself and at least two of them are widely used. But applied to the same mailing list they mean endless discussion and applied to the same data, they mean a continuously bad map quality.

If you spot yet another point of view or an important tagging use case I have missed, please complete the table.

Example A: "strict" interpretation B: mixed interpretation C: "traditional" interpretation D: intended in path proposal


Exclusive legal use for pedestrians.
In Germany: Marked by blue traffic sign, pedestrians must use this way.
Implies bicycle=no and horse=no

Explicit use of "designated" means official: same as A

Way is mainly intended for pedestrians.
Implies nothing about bicycles.

Way has some traffic sign or painting:

legal use for pedestrians. Tells nothing
about other users - path implies all
unmotorized are allowed so they should be
added as bicycle=no etc. unless
is supported.


Same as foot=designated Exclusive legal use for pedestrians.
In Germany: Marked by blue traffic sign, pedestrians must use this way.
Implies bicycle=no and horse=no

Shortcut tag is considered weaker: same as C

Way is mainly intended for pedestrians.
Implies nothing about bicycles.

Way is mainly intended for pedestrians.
Bicycle access is not legal or not feasible.

No traffic sign, signpost of local cycle network.


bicycle=yes or highway=cycleway

bicycle=designated or highway=cycleway

both seem allowed and guess it's a built road so highway=cycleway + foot=yes

I have learned that the "traditional" interpretation C seems to have grown over time. It appears to me that many people looking for a way to express the rules of traffic exactly have concluded A or B from the existing documentation. At least this is the way I came to interpretation A. But in the "traditional" interpretation there is no way to express an officially assigned usage as the strongest value already has another meaning.

Therefore I propose a new value and a clarification to resolve the dispute and to be able to map the legal situation exactly. In particular

  • extend the map features and tagging pages with clarifications explaining the use of designated for mainly intended use or apparent suitability of a way.
  • introduce a new access tag to express legally declared dedication to specific forms of travel

After some further consideration and consultation of native speakers I propose the term "official" as it clearly tells the official, legal nature of the assignment. The explicit and possibly compulsive use is not a direct meaning of the tag but rather a consequence implied by local laws. The tagging of a way with multiple official dedications is also conclusive.



The tag may only be used where there is a an official traffic sign or an unambiguous legal regulation.





Applies to



Expressed by different line styles or indicated by rendering an official traffic sign.


Please use discussion page to comment.