Proposed features/Trail

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Status: Canceled (inactive)
Proposed by: Hawke
Drafted on: 2007-06-10


Provide a value for a nonspecific or multi-use path.

Applies to




A path (as for bicycles, horses, snowmobiles, cross-country skiing, etc.) could be tagged as:

<tag k="route" v="path"/>
<tag k="bicycle" v="yes"/>
<tag k="horse" v="yes"/>
<tag k="snowmobile" v="yes"/>
<tag k="xc_ski" v="yes"/>






This should probably be rendered as a thin line (similar to current highway=footway), possibly broken, with color depending on the allowed usage.


If this is accepted, the values "cycleway", "bridleway", and "footway" should be deprecated.

Outstanding problems

  • This doesn't provide for "designated use" paths. Perhaps an addition to the access keys would be good. (e.g. bicycle=designated, foot=yes for a cycleway which allows foot, or foot=designated, bicycle=yes for the opposite)


I think this proposal solves more than the 'multi-use problem'. It also solves the problem that footway,bridleway and cycleway refer to 'legal rights of way'. Some people interpret a footway as foot=yes is an implied value whereas other people find the implied value is foot=permissive. See:

Argument against is that footways, bridleways and cycleways are normally rendered different on maps and I am not sure whetter this proposal makes it more difficult to render these different ways.

rvanderh,3 Aug 2007.

The new scheme misses the main function of the way. There's a huge difference between highway=footway;bicycle=yes and highway=cycleway at least here in Germany.
Maybe I miss something (quite new in OSM). But as far as I understand the proposal tagging for a (typical) footpath or a (typical) cyclepath will be <route=path;foot=yes> and <route=path;cycle=yes>. Although indeed I miss 'foot' under 'Tags' rvanderh,3 Aug 2007.
Problem is that <route=path;foot=yes;bicycle=yes> could be a) a path that is primarily intended for pedestrians (though cyclists are allowed to use it) or b) a path that is primarily indended for cyclists (though pedestrians are allowed to use it). -- Eckhart 22:11, 3 August 2007 (BST)
How else do you propose to solve the following: A path that is primarily intended for both cyclists and pedestrians, but is not a "legal right of way" for either? --Hawke
Pick your choice:
highway=footway;foot=permissive;bicycle=permissive or
highway=cycleway;foot=permissive;bicycle=permissive or maybe even
highway=primary;foot=permissive;bicycle=permissive ????
Nick (link above) just told he doesn't render highway=footway default as foot=yes. In my view it supports this proposal to remove pathes out of the highway-family. rvanderh,3 Aug 2007
highway=footway indicates that it is primarily intended for foot, highway=cycleway for bicycles. And primary is a major road for automobiles and thus completely inappropriate. None of those options provide for an equal-use route. --Hawke 08:59, 4 August 2007 (BST)
As far as I understand the descriptions in map_features xxxway is about 'legal status'. So you call a trail 'highway=footway' when you see official signs 'public footpath','yellow arrows' or the round blue/white signs in urban areas. Similar for bridleway,byway,and i think cycleway. I did some googling on 'bridleway','byway','cycleway' and 'rights of way' and I didn't find any clues that 'horseriding' is THE intended use on 'bridleway', or 'cars' on byways or cycles on cycleways. Checked law in NL use of cycleways by pedestrians is allowed if there is no footpath. So it's or highway=cycleway;cycle=yes;foot=yes (equal rights) or it is highway=cycleway;cycle=yes (single right). But I will stop arguing on highway=primary;foot=yes :)--rvanderh 11:18, 4 August 2007 (BST)
Okay, I now see the problem for rendering the map. But maybe you can explain why someone would want to know what the primary use of a path is ? The only thing I can think of is that one use has priority on the other use. But I don't think this is a real world situation. In my view the map should reflect the 'real world' rvanderh,3 Aug 2007
I agree with 'real world' completely, and feel that route=path reflects that, better than highway=xxxway. One reason I can think of to know the primary/intended use of a path, is so someone can make a map of all the "bike routes" in an area, or all the "hiking trails", or all the "ski trails". In most cases, bike can use roads -- but it's not as useful for a special purpose map to show/highlight everywhere a bike *could* go, rather only the routes that are built or designated with that purpose in mind. --Hawke 08:59, 4 August 2007 (BST)
You can make special purpose maps also without knowing the 'intended use'. I know bridleways on 'normal' maps have a different rendering, but why should OSM copy/paste ? Why should I want to know a way's intended use is 'horse' ? The only thing I want to know is that it may/can be used by horses so that I can avoid it if I am afraid of horses. Your proposal fits both single and multi-use and that's all there is IMHO.--rvanderh 16:36, 4 August 2007 (BST)
If you're riding a horse, you might prefer the bridleway over the footway because your horse suffers less fatigue. If you're cycling, you might prefer the cycleway because you can ride faster there. 3247 22:14, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Can you explain that difference, please? The only difference I can see is if highway=cycleway is forbidden to pedestrians. And if so, route=path;bicycle=yes;foot=no would take care of that. (remember, the logic is that for access permissions, =yes means that it is a legal right-of-way). --Hawke
In Germany, on a cycleway you can ride as fast as you can (well, with some exceptions). On a footway which permits cyclists to use it you have to adjust your speed to pedestrian speed. E.g. a routing application would have to take care of that. -- Eckhart 17:28, 4 August 2007 (BST)
This 'cycleway you can ride as fast as you can' is by definition a single use path. If pedestrians are allowed on a cycleway, by law cyclist should adapt there speed on these 'weaker' traffic users. Even if something like 'intended use' exists it doesn't mean that this 'intended use' has more rights then the other 'legal' or 'permitted' users. Maybe cyclist don't like it, but then you better get rid of your fellow users and make it a single use path. --rvanderh 20:19, 4 August 2007 (BST)
In the UK I've been using cycleway in two ways, and I'm not sure this proposal adequately captures them. First, to represent paths that actually have a sign with a bicycle on them or the word "cycle path" - never mind that pedestrians can still use them, I've found it useful and faithful to the real world to represent them as ways primarily intended for cyclists. Second, to represent paths that are well surfaced, used predominantly by cylists, that are part of cycle networks and that are usually much bigger than a standard footpath. I quite like seeing two different kinds of path on the map, I think it conveys useful information. TomChance 13:48, 5 August 2007 (BST)
In the US, the sign in question generally says "BIKE ROUTE" and has a picture of a bike on it. However, these are frequently just sidewalks (that is, primarily for pedestrians) rather than paths purpose-built for bicycling. In some cases they'll also be widened for safety (to allow bikes to travel faster without causing problems for pedestrians. In regards to seeing two different kinds of path, I also like that -- but this proposal does not interfere with it. It is perfectly feasible to have the renderer render "route=path, foot=yes" one way, and "route=path, bicycle=yes" another. The intent of this proposal is primarily to unify footway,bridleway, and cycleway into one tag, as they have much in common with each other and little in common with the roads that make up the majority of highway=. --Hawke 23:40, 6 August 2007 (BST)
Think this is a good idea and closer to the scheme I would have come up with. Given the permissions of the path is defined by the foot=yes/permissive, horse=yes/permissive tags (etc), things like "highway=bridleway" are extraneous. Better in my view would be to use foot, horse etc for permissions, and highway=path, highway=gravel_track or highway=mud_track to represent the physical surface of the path. --Nick W 22:52, 4 August 2007 (BST)
Nick I miss something. You support the proposal and you still mention 'highway=..'. Maybe you should have a look on Ben's proposal on 'highways': . Main goal: move 'legal status' from the main key (highway-old,route-new) to the secondary access-key. Hawke proposes 'route' in stead of 'highway'. I oppose against highway=mud_track,etc or route=mud_track,etc. Let's put this under the surface-key or/and tracktype-key. Ben proposed (link above) route=road/track/trail/path. I don't know what his idea was on this, but it fits in my perception of the hierarchy in 'routes' I see in the countryside, allthough I doubt about 'road' and am not sure about the difference between trail en path (unpaved/paved ?)--rvanderh 23:23, 4 August 2007 (BST)
Just a quick general comment - this seems to depend upon quite a significant change to the way we differentiate between physical / legal / etc. aspects of a map feature. Is that correct? Just taking all forms of path out of highway would be very confusing. I'd rather see this proposed as part of that wider change, and do a lot of work to ensure that it is widely discussed since it would be such a big change. Personally I'd rather we just waited to fully develop something like STAGS/cOSMology, or went for Nick's proposal of a relatively small change. TomChance 13:48, 5 August 2007 (BST)
TomChance: The "highways" proposal would be a significant change for little gain. (Ben primarily doesn't like the term 'highway' as it has extra implications for legal rights). This proposal is a rather small change, and shouldn't be confusing (as the foot/bridle/cycleway would be only deprecated and thus should still work until someone went and removed them. (presumably well after this proposal would be made official) --Hawke 23:40, 6 August 2007 (BST)
Hawke. Maybe you could append some information in your proposal on the way it affects rendering of maps. The more I read in the Wiki and lists, the more I realize people are more worried about rendering of maps then about the meaning off tags. So give people confidence that the maps keep rendering the way they are used too.--rvanderh 00:25, 7 August 2007 (BST)
Rvanderh: The "Rendering" section covers this as well. It basically says that it should not affect rendering.
Rvanderh: Correct, a path is paved, a trail is unpaved. A trail may be narrower and have a more uneven surface as well. --Hawke 23:40, 6 August 2007 (BST)
This looks like what I need to tag the skiing trails I've been entering. I found references to "route=ski" and "piste:type=nordic" but to get them rendered anywhere, I needed to add a highway tag so I set it to "footway" with a comment. But these are definitely not "footways" and should not be confused with paths during summer, though they do overlap in places. You can see them in this area. If this proposal is accepted, the "xc_ski" paths need to look different to avoid confusion. On Norwegian paper maps, they are typically drawn as solid but often thin, red lines. --Bjornmu 21:13, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

As far as Poland is concerned I would see this feature completly different. Routes (paths/trails) are something completly non-phisical. They comprise a set of highways: footpahts, tracks, bridleways, unclassified etc. (rather not motorways). What constitues a trail in Poland are colourful stripes painted on trees, stones and everything that does not move along the path. Some trails have also reference numbers assingned by Polish Touring Society. I imagine route=path like this. Some highways that may be walked along subsequently are tagged with the same set of route=path tags.

Imagine three ways: a track and too footpaths that meet the track in different points like this

 \ w1
  \   w3
 w2    /

The cycleroute goes along the track w2,w3,w4 and a hiking trail along footpaths w1 and w5 and along the track w3. The only reasonable means to achieve this seem to be relations. Steelman 22:10, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

  • I agree with steelman, that a route is something totally non-physical.
    IMHO it would be much better to add a "highway=path" to combine footway, cycleway, bridleway,... in one highway-value. By adding a "designated" to the core-values of "Key:access" we can capture the real world even more accurate, without losing information.
    e.g. or signed ways are nether a foot- nor a cycleway; they are both by definition, but to can't take this correctly at the moment. If there would be only "highway=path" you can catch it totally right -> highway=way bicycle=designed foot=designed. A sideeffect is also, that the renderers can perfectly adjust themselves to their's needs. --Cbm 21:59, 25 December 2007 (UTC)