Richmond, Virginia/Tags

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Below are some guidelines for editing OpenStreetMap in Richmond, Virginia.

We welcome any suggestions or feedback, please get in touch!

Bicycle Infrastructure

Generally, Richmond mappers follow the accepted practices documented in the OpenStreetMap Wiki and the consensus among active mappers in other cities in the US.

Tagging of Bike Lanes

In OpenStreetMap, cycle tracks can be mapped either as separated ways, or as a part of the road they run along. See Key:cycleway#Cycle Tracks for more information.

In Richmond, our preference is to add the cycleway=* tag to the road when there is no physical protection between vehicles and bicycles. This includes buffer spaces with flexible bollards (a.k.a flexposts or candlesticks) and a buffer space that has parking.

Bicycle facilities are mapped separately from the road (as highway=cycleway) when there is physical protection (i.e. concrete median, jersey barrier, curbs, etc.) or there is a two-way cycle track separated with a buffer (with at minimum flexible bollards) from vehicle traffic.


Pedestrian Infrastructure

We prefer to map sidewalks as separate ways in Richmond. There is an ongoing project to fill in the sidewalks, crossings, and other pedestrian infrastructure around our city.

Footway Links

The use of footway=link is encouraged. Footway links are valuable to describe how pedestrians might commonly travel where there is not a traditional footway=*. footway=link is most commonly used to create connections between sidewalks and roads, where such a connection might be necessary or convenient for a pedestrian to reach a nearby destination. footway=link is most useful to routing engines and pedestrian mapping styles, and may not be rendered in maps intended for other modes of transportation.

While it is common to map foot path surfaces after their ways are initially drawn, it is good practice to tag footway links with a surface=* tag upon creation. This is because footway links are not well-known to all OSM users, and folks using surveying apps like StreetComplete for example might not easily identify which surface is in question.

Common Mistakes

  • Short ways between a crossing and the centerline of a sidewalk are considered a part of the sidewalk and should be tagged with footway=sidewalk.
  • Anywhere a pedestrian could reasonably cross a road, footway=crossing should be used, with crossing:markings=no if there are no markings on the street. footway=crossing does not imply that a pedestrian must fully cross!


  • Here, footway=link is used to connect a sidewalk way to the centerlines of adjacent service roads. This keeps the sidewalk's geometry well-defined, while connecting the two highways for routing purposes.
  • In apartment complexes, it's common to use footway=link ways to connect sidewalk segments to residential roads, like is done here.
  • Occasionally, footway=link is appropriate where pedestrians could be meaningfully expected to travel, but there is no real path (informal or not). For example, this link between a sidewalk and unmarked crossing along Douglasdale Road. This Bing Streetside image shows that there is no path from the sidewalk to the curb at this corner, yet for navigation purposes it is reasonable to have a footway link connecting these ways.

Sidewalks vs. Foot Paths

Sidewalks are distinct from other highway=footway ways in that they run along a carriageway. These ways should have the additional tag footway=sidewalk. In Richmond, this distinction is usually clear. Short ways connecting a sidewalk out to a crossing in an intersection may also be tagged with footway=sidewalk.

There are other values of footway=* that you should consider using (see Footway Links above). For example, footway=residential may be used on ways in and around housing complexes and single-family homes. We have not established a firm standard for the use of this tag, however.

Tagging Roads

We have decided that adding sidewalk=separate to all roads in Richmond is out of scope for our current sidewalk-mapping project. We welcome your help adding these tags where we have completed mapping sidewalks as separate ways.

Unmarked Crossings

We add unmarked crossing ways wherever two footways can be reasonably connected across a carriageway for routing purposes. This includes but is not limited to crossings at intersections. Wherever a pedestrian could reasonably cross a carriageway to reach a local destination, an unmarked crossing should be added if there is not one nearby. The omission of an unmarked crossing should indicate that it is unsafe and/or illegal to cross in a vicinity. Mapping curbs on unmarked crossing ways is encouraged.

Common Mistakes

If a pedestrian may enter a carriageway at a location but could not reasonably cross it, an unmarked crossing is not appropriate and you should consider adding a footway link instead (see above).