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Public-images-osm logo.svg service = alley
Scarborough rear access service road.JPG
An alley is a service road usually located between properties for access to utilities. Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
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 (except multipolygon relations)
Status: de facto

An alley or alleyway is a narrow service road usually located between properties to provide access to back gardens, rear entrances, fire exits, and storage areas. Alleys are normally found in urban areas and often run between the rear sides of buildings such as houses, and commercial premises. Old, narrow streets that provide access to the main entrances of buildings are also mapped as alleys, to distinguish from wider streets which are instead mapped as highway=residential.

If a narrow passage is prohibited for motor vehicles, consider using highway=footway.

If a narrow street is prohibited for motor vehicles, consider using highway=pedestrian.

Medieval ways

In some (e.g. medieval European) settlements alleys may be the very narrow streets which run in-between buildings, providing public (often through-)access. These may be mapped using service=alley.

Possible and legal for motor vehicles Impossible (e.g. steps) or illegal for motor vehicles
highway=service +
Hintere Gasse, Gmünd, Carinthia, Austria
Illegal for motor vehicles
Footpath next to Église Saint-Pierre, Mont-Saint-Michel, France
Step street in Pitigliano, Italy
Rathausgasse, Sommerhausen, Germany
Wide enough but illegal
Kirchgasse, Tübingen, Germany

Alley streets

Alley streets are a road classification found in Baltimore, Maryland, USA[1], and potentially other places. Alley streets are alleys by definition, i.e., they serve the rear of buildings, but are named. Most named alley streets have addresses assigned to them, often small homes or carriage-houses that have been converted into homes, due to Next Generation 911 (NG911) standards that require local governments to sign any public street with addresses. Alley streets may have sidewalks but they are small and designed to house trash cans or steps down from homes. Alley streets do not typically have on-street parking, which distinguishes them from residential streets.

Alley street tagging examples
Tagging Example
Ploy Street, alley street with a narrow sidewalk
highway=service +
service=alley +
sidewalk=both +
Ploy Street, an alley street in the Mt. Vernon Area of Baltimore
Teakle Alley, an alley street that looks like a standard alley with no sidewalk
highway=service +
service=alley +
sidewalk=no +
Teakle Alley, a narrow alley street in Baltimore, Maryland, USA


See also

footway=alley : Narrow streets where cars can't pass and people can barely get by.