Proposed features/Way Type

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Way Type
Status: Abandoned (inactive)
Proposed by: *
Tagging: waytype=A-F
Rendered as: width of road defined by highway altered

In my opinion the highway-scheme is insufficient in several cases to describe what really lies behind the map (in the real world).

While the highway-classification scheme is more a formal/political way to define the road, the waytype-key (or any better name) directly describes the physical properties and is more universal.

In several cases, a primary road is not always the biggest road through a city, and there may be secondary roads that are a lot wider. Drawing them as primary (different color) would not be useful as this is not a standard, and primary roads are usually easy to follow which is indicated by another drawing color. Simply drawing secondary roads wider is an option.

Sometimes a road just doesn't fit any category of highway, but describing its physical properties using waytype, surface, in some cases lanes and way_condition is always possible and makes it perfectly clear what the road can (not) be used for.

This information is also useful for route planning, and should be implemented while most of the maps are made.

Using this scheme, a separation between physical (segments) and logical (ways) properties is possible, resulting in better maps.

Discussion has shown that the proposed scheme is not flexible enough, still. In principle each road segment has to be classified with many single tags that describe one physical property. A scheme like this one can only be used to group those tags together, make the common case fast and easy to enter. It has to define default values for those tags which can be overriden for "unusual" roads. Programs using the osm data would need to know the scheme and which tags are implied, so it should not be changed too often.

Humans editing the maps might perhaps find it easier to imagine a road if a single key is used for a set of properties, instead of having to read several tags and find out what road that could be.

An attempt to collect all possible way types and group the most common cases is located at

Proposed_features/Worldwide road classification (physical)

The same applies to logigal / administrative classifications, country-based rulesets (and tagsets) need to be found.

Proposed_Features/Worldwide road classification (logical)

Old proposal:

  • waytype: applied to segments (and perhaps ways); modify drawing style defined by highway
    • A
      • 2 lanes for easily 2 trucks (road has breakdown lane or is VERY wide); Applies to a motorway, because it is drawn separatly for both directions. Lanes overridden by the key lanes if there are more than two.
    • B
      • 2 lanes for 2 trucks (also applicable to motorway, but without breakdown lane, also able to be modified by the key lanes)
    • C
      • 2 lanes, wide enough for 2 cars
    • D
      • 1.5 lanes, two cars fit if they are slow (and such things as motorway_link, i.e. one lane + breakdown)
    • E
      • 1 lane, wide enough for a truck
    • F
      • 1 lane, wide enough for a car
    • G
      • smaller than a car, but wide for anything else
    • H
      • a path, as wide enough for a person to walk on undisturbed by evil thornbushes lurking on the sides
    • I
      • anything smaller and less distinct than a good path, but something visible.

Preferrably, any segment is tagged with its wayclass and other physical properties (tunnel, bridge, oneway)


  • I really think that the tags should describe the real world (surface, width) and that the renderer should be able to infer how to represent that on the map/visualisation as appropriate. PeterMiller:Peter Miller 6:30am 12 June 2007 (BST).