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Public-images-osm logo.svg shoulder
15-05-23-Berlin-Sachsendamm-Tesla-RalfR-N3S 7354.jpg
Presence of shoulder in highway Edit or translate this description.
Group: Highways
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasshould not be used on relations
Status: in use


Indicates the presence of a  shoulder on highways.

A shoulder, often serving as an emergency stopping lane, is a reserved lane by the verge of a road or motorway - on the right in countries which drive on the right, or on the left side in those which drive on the left (Japan, the UK, Australia, etc.).

Picture from Wikimedia Commons, taken by User:Ralf_Roletschek, licensed Free Art License
Picture from Wikimedia Commons, taken by User:Coolcaesar, licensed cc-by-sa 3.0


Tag a highway way with shoulder=yes if it has a shoulder.

You may find it useful to tag roads with shoulder=no if it might be otherwise assumed to have a shoulder. For example, in some countries, most highway=motorway will have a shoulder but there may be exceptions.

If there is a shoulder on just one side of the road, there are two commonly used ways of tagging:

While both kinds of tagging are in use, shoulder=* seems to be the preferred representation form (as of 09/2017):

shoulder=* shoulder:left=* shoulder:right=* shoulder:both=*

Unless otherwise tagged, a shoulder so tagged should be assumed paved, wide enough to be used as an emergency refuge for cars, and wide enough for through passage by bicycles.

Access permissions are assumed to be inherited from the national defaults for that type of highway, unless otherwise tagged.


You may want to add further details of the shoulder using normal tags, suitably namespaced. Here are some examples of tags that are in use:

would indicate that the shoulder is 4 meters wide, has a excellently smooth concrete surface, can be used by bicycles and is separated from the road using a solid line.

If the shoulders are different on both sides of the road, consider using the :left/:right suffixes in the keys:


This tag was first proposed in 2010 by Xan and has since gained 'In use' status through widespread usage. It was moved to formal tag documentation in 2016 by Richard after discussion on the tagging mailing list. See initially thread (where Daniel Tremblay comments if there is tag for shoulders), and subsequent threads on the OSM forum and talk-us lists.