Proposal:Cycle expressways

From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
cycle expressways
Proposal status: Proposed (under way)
Proposed by: Balchen
Tagging: cycleway=expressway
Applies to: way
Definition: A cycleway with high design speed, limited access, no or very few at-grade crossings, right of way

Draft started: 2022-08-03
RFC start: 2022-08-03


A new value cycleway=expressway meaning a cycleway that is built to a significantly higher standard than a regular cycleway. Specifics will vary between countries, like in all other cases. As an illustrative reference, typical traits will include several or all of the following:

  • design speed higher than 25 kph
  • extended line of sight
  • at least two lanes
  • lanes wide enough to pass another cyclist in the same lane
  • limited access (prohibited for pedestrians which can be marked with foot=no, and physically separated from footways with fences or similar)
  • no or very few at-grade crossings with other road classes (such as carriageways)
  • gentler slopes
  • turning lanes
  • right of way at all intersections
  • well lit (can be marked with lit=yes)

Applies to ways.


Cycle expressways are becoming increasingly common across Europe. They are distinctly higher quality cycling roads compared to regular cycleways, equivalent to motorways for cars. highway=cycleway currently captures the basics of a cycleway, and adding lanes=*, foot=no, or width=* can provide additional detail on the quality of the cycleway, but there are no tags to capture the complete meaning of a road being a cycle expressway (see list of physical traits above).

The definition is formalised in Norway as "sykkelekspressveg", in Sweden as "supercykelväg", and in Denmark as "cykelsupersti". The term "expressway" generally means the highest grade of highway and captures all of these definitions and terms.

It is common in the Nordic countries to refer to "Fietssnelweg" in the Netherlands and Belgium as the equivalent to the three above. This proposal's discussion has revealed that Fietssnelweg is a cycle network classification with an intention of a physical road quality -- an intention that often does not turn into reality -- and it is becoming difficult to clearly delineate what exactly a Fietssnelweg means in terms of road quality. Also, with the generally higher quality of cycle roads in NL/BE, the separation between expressway and regular cycleway is smaller than in other countries. With that in mind, please be mindful of the difference between a road's physical quality and a road's network classification, even if they correlate a lot of the time. This proposal is meant to only cover a road's physical quality.

For completeness: London's cycle superhighways are not cycle expressways. They are a network classification with little correlation with quality.

Relation to cycle route/network

There is a separate proposal on how to capture a cycleway's network function/classification more accurately than today. This is more relevant to the case of London's cycle superhighways and the Dutch and Belgian fietssnelwegen. That proposal covers network function in more depth than is warranted here, so please read that too if you are concerned with cycle routes and cycle networks. See also cycle_highway=* for use on route relations.


highway=cycleway + cycleway=expressway is proposed as the tagging to represent a cycle expressway.

The value goes along well with established values such as highway=* + cycleway=lane and highway=* + cycleway=track used to denote other distinct types of cycleways.


Fietssnelweg, the Netherlands
Sykkelekspressveg, Norway


Features/Pages affected

External discussions



Please comment on the discussion page.