Talk:Access provisions in the United Kingdom

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Byways - BOATs/RBs

This section moved from the UK Tagging Guidelines Consultation 'talk' page.--RobJN 22:28, 16 May 2012 (BST)
  • Key value for Byway Open To All Traffic & motor_vehicle should be yes (ref. Achadwick's RoW table above)
  • Some RB's have legal mechanism's that grant the public lawful authority to use them with motorvehicles.
  • I propose changing 'Motor cars, motor bicycles, quad bikes, motorised scooters, etc. are not permitted.' to 'Motor cars, motor bicycles, quad bikes, motorised scooters, etc. are usually not permitted.'

-- User:PeterRounce 20:06, April 25, 2012

  • BOtAT & motor_vehicle. It already is; if motor_vehicle=* is omitted, it inherits any explicitly set value on vehicle=* because motor vehicles are a subset of vehicles. I'm taking OSM's vehicle=* as meaning carriages within the meaning of the act.

--achadwick 10:11, 30 April 2012 (BST)

permanent traffic regulation order (PTRO)

This section moved from the UK Tagging Guidelines Consultation 'talk' page.--RobJN 22:28, 16 May 2012 (BST)

It would appear that local councils can apply PTROs to their rights of way to restrict access (used when the path is unsurfaced and therefore unsuitable for some vehicles). See:

JOSM presets now available

This section moved from the UK Tagging Guidelines page.--RobJN 13:52, 30 May 2012 (BST)

Presets for Rights of way in England and Wales can now be downloaded from within JOSM, or examined and manually downloaded from Presets/EnglandWalesRightsOfWay (JOSM trac wiki). Its description is "Public rights of way in England and Wales, using the good bits out of the global tagging style while retaining our ancient folkways and customs". I hope it can be used as a way around the horrid impasse regarding highway=path. Quick summary of how these presets implement the guidelines on the main page:

  • This is a hybrid style based on both the "Classic UK Tagging style" and the supposed "Alternative Global tagging style" from the main page as of 2012-01-27. I try to take the best bits from each.
  • Only cross-country RoWs are attempted. Urban paths might be added in future revisions.
  • The physical aspects of a path drive the choice of highway=* tag.
    • Tracks and minor-road physical aspects override simple paths.
    • One feature, one OSM element. If a simple path joins a farm track for 200m, cut it up and tag the central section as a track.
    • Continuity of purpose comes from the designation=* tags.
  • highway=footway and highway=bridleway} are retained for simple paths (a good feature of the "Classic" guidelines)
  • highway=track is used for RoW parts which lie along farm tracks - common in the countryside.
  • highway=path is available only for permissive paths, because those might be permissive for bikes or foot or horse riders equally.
  • Other highway tag values are fine, and will not be overwritten.
  • Extensive and IMO more correct usage of access tags (a good feature of the "Global" guidelines).
    • <accesskey>=designated is used with <accesskey>=yes in order to provide a hierarchy of priority and provision. Rationales are given in the XML source for each choice.
    • Better inclusion of vehicles, and exclusion of motor vehicles on byways.
  • An appropriate designation=* tag is applied silently when using each preset (a good feature of both sets of guidelines).
  • designation=permissive_path is implemented, invented in line with the titular name in Wikipedia. It stands for all kinds of path-like permissive way: footpaths, bridleways and cycle paths.

I hope this schema meets with everyone's approval; please let me know what if anything you'd change about it. If people like this approach, maybe we could retire the Classic/Global split on the main page with guidelines based on it.

--achadwick 20:14, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

Rather than coming up with a new (and as far as I can see completely unused) tagging of designation=permissive_path, I would suggest using the more specific designation=permissive_footpath and designation=permissive_bridleway. These taggings are already in use (491 and 94 respectively according to tag-info), provide more specific information as to the type pf permissive way, and nicely mirror the corresponding public rights of way.
Rjw62 08:13, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
Good point! I'll do that. --achadwick 17:36, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
I see what you're trying to do with the <access-tag>=designated values, but I think using them for a routing hierarchy is changing the original intention of the tag. As I understand it, it's supposed to indicate official / legally designated routes for different users. While I would agree with the values for a public_bridleway (as cyclist can use them, but the route isn't technically designated for them) I'm not convinced about not having vehicles as designated on Byways Open to All Traffic -- clearly those routes are designated for "All Traffic", even though they wouldn't be a routing preference if other routes existed. I think routers should be able to determine the best option by looking at the highway type and other physical tags, and it would be better not to adjust the meaning of <access-tag>=designated.
Rjw62 08:13, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
First up, I'm not trying the change existing OSM definitions of <access>=designated. That's not the point. It's up to a routing engine implementation to decide what it means in E&W and whether it outweighs <access>=yes, just as it's up to the law to ensure that designation / naming for a given class of user reflects accessibility for that user.
There is a legally-enshrined right for all kinds of traffic to use BOATs, but that just means <access>=yes in OSM. In my interpretation, it would take being named specially in legislation as a preferred or most likely user of a way to gain a <access>=designated tag in OSM.
Mode Footway Bridleway BOAT RB
foot designated yes designated designated
horse no designated designated designated
bicycle no yes designated?
Slightly iffy, see below
other vehicle no no yes no
When making the presets, I went and saw. The devil is so frequently in the details, and "byway open to all traffic" sounds like such a marketing name. The relevant legislation[1] states that a BOAT is "a highway over which the public have a right of way for vehicular and all other kinds of traffic but which is used by the public mainly for the purpose for which footpaths and bridleways are used" (my emphasis). I suppose that means they're designated for all bridleway+footway traffic, and that everything has a right of way. See the table at right for one possible summing-up.
Restricted byways follow BOATs by adding more restrictions. Now in OSM a right of way is <access>=yes. If a mode is picked out as being a preferred or most likely user of that way in legislation it gets an <access>=designated instead. Several other local government sources [2][3] describe them more as glorified bridleways which the public just happens has a right to use vehicles on. Much like bikes on bridleways. The Hampshire County Council website even states "most of these highways do not have a surface suitable for ordinary motor traffic". I don't think we should call these things designated for motor vehicles at all; the legislation doesn't actually designate them, and if anything they're often warned off.
Given all of this, I'm pretty certain I'm right on vehicles generally and motor vehicles especially getting <access>=yes and not <access>=designated. It wouldn't reflect usage, and it wouldn't reflect law.
--achadwick 17:36, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

Looking at the notes and table above, there's still one possible flaw here: non-motorised vehicles. I'm arrogating bicycle=designated to both byway presets rather than just copying the tags from bridleway simply because they're generally better built and nicer to use by bike than bridleways. It's the same logic as picking preset entries for the "Physical aspects" dropdown which generates the basic highway=* tag. I'm prepared to back down on this if everyone thinks it looks especially weird. --achadwick 17:36, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

I'd keep bicycle=designated on both bywyas though -- IIRC, one legal difference between Byways and Bridleways as far as cyclists are concerned is that cyclists have to give way to pedestrians and horses on a bridleway, but have equal rights to other users on Restricted Byways and BOATs.
Rjw62 17:55, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
Okay, I'll keep bicycle=designated on byways. (Other) wheeled vehicles on byways do not have to give way to bicycles and horses though, so it's not a perfect analogy. I'm still prepared to back down on this one, but I wonder if I could argue that, by 1984, bridleways were generally being used by cyclists? :-)
--achadwick 03:47, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

One more thing I do have to change. I think looking at the legislation[4] and OSM's Key:access that I'll also need to add carriage=designated to both kinds of byway: horse-drawn carriages are not vehicles in OSM access tagging, apparently. --achadwick 03:47, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Actually, that's untrue. Carriages are covered by vehicle=*. --23:26, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Presets 0.7 (2012-01-29)

I think we're getting there now. Current set of tags are:

EnglandWalesRightsOfWay presets, version 0.7_2012-01-29
Key Value by right of way
Public Footpath Public Bridleway Byway Open To All Traffic Restricted Byway Permissive footpath Permissive bridleway
highway footway, track, * bridleway, track, * track, unclassified, * track, unclassified, * footway, track, cycleway, unclassified, * bridleway, track, cycleway, unclassified, *
designation public_footpath public_bridleway byway_open_to_all_traffic restricted_byway permissive_footpath permissive_bridleway
foot designated designated designated¹ designated² permissive permissive, *, ~
horse no, * designated designated¹ designated² ~, permissive, * permissive
vehicle no, * no, * yes³ yes³ ~ ~
bicycle ~ † yes designated¹ designated² ~, permissive, * ~, permissive, *
motor_vehicle ~ † ~ † ~ † no, * ~ ~

~: Unstated or blank. In preset terms, the field is optional.
*: Overridable. Access tags which are ordinarily 'no' may be given alternative private-access values if appropriate.
¹: Implicitly designated. The kinds of traffic that were generally using bridleways in 1984.
²: Explicitly designated: named by individual class in the relevant legislation.
³: Official sources are equivocal. Named in the relevant legislation, but many councils discourage this sort of use by name.
†: Inherits whatever value is set on the vehicle tag.

This was a fun exercise, FCVO "fun". Perhaps the main page's content could use the table. Has anything been omitted right now, other than urban footpaths (which I still have to think properly about)? --achadwick 23:26, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

I have added the specific mode designation tags (e.g. foot=designated) to each of the PRoW types, as based on this table. Casey boy (talk) 15:24, 5 January 2021 (UTC)

"Not enough evidence" section

I would like to take issue with some of the images in the "not enough evidence" section. For starters, the wooden "Footpath" finger post is the standard Hampshire County Council fingerpost for public footpaths. I have taken observations of this as hard evidence of public footpath many, many times.

Also the yellow arrow unmarked by "public footpath" wording. There might be very occasional occurrences of yellow arrows *not* meaning public footpaths, but in most cases they are.

In summary I think some of the photos in the "not enough evidence" section are too conservative and we should tag them with a designation tag... then let someone remove it later if it turns out not to be. nickw 31 May 2012 17:20 BST


  1. Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, section 15(9)(c) [1]
  2. Calderdale Council's "Public Rights of Way" webpage [2]
  3. Hampshire County Council's "Types of Rights of Way and who can use them" webpage [3]
  4. Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, Section 48 (4) [4]

designation=public_footpath - when?

Under what circumstances should a footpath be tagged with "designation=public_footpath"? For example would it simply be for (public) footpaths across private land, eg fields - the 'usual' public footpath so to speak. Or should it also be used for A) footpaths along the roadside (sidewalks in the US talk), B) footpaths in urban areas, eg those that go across a housing estate or between buildings away from roads, and C) publicly accessible footpaths across publicly accessible land that are not in themselves RoWs, eg a footpath through a woodland or park, or indeed across 'access land'? --Abc26324 17:38, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Designation is ONLY to be used for paths which appear in the PRoW files at the relevant highway authority. Usually they will be signed with a "Public Footpath" sign. Certainly do not use it for pavements/sidewalks, paths in parks, desire line paths on access land, any old path on a village green or common. It is assumed that all road classes (except Motorways) are accessible on foot unless tagged otherwise. Certainly your local paved path through the park is not likely to have an official statement (the Definitive Statement) saying exactly what its route is. In practice many of these paths although owned by the council are permissive. The status of many paths in urban areas which go between buildings away from roads is often obscure. We would expect any path tagged public_foootpath etc to feature in the Definitive Statement (and therefore they should also have a relevant reference from that statement. If in doubt dont tag. PRoW law in E&W can get very complicated: see my blog post on one path in Nottingham. SK53 (talk) 18:42, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Does anyone know of any maps of Open Access Land for England?

There are loads available from the various authorities such as Natural England, the Magic map thing and, of course, OS - but I cant find any that can be copied for OSM. Are there any/what is a compatible source for this information for OSM? --Abc26324 17:48, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Gating orders

Is there any guidance on how to tag public highways that have been gated by the local council?

Local authority reference as name

Hi all. I'm new to OSM and I've been working on public rights of way in my local parishes in Derbyshire, UK. Where a path or track doesn't have a local name (e.g. "name=Primrose Lane"), I've been adding the rights-of-way reference as the name (e.g. "name=New Mills FP 3") as well as putting the same information in the prow_ref=* tag. It's been suggested that I shouldn't do this, but I would contend that the right-of-way reference is the name of the trail when there is no other name. In rights of way, planning and walking circles, you often hear people talking about "New Mills footpath 3" or whatever. I acknowledge the guidance at Names that "the name of the item in question only and should not include additional information not contained in the official name such as categories, types, descriptions, addresses, refs, or notes", but personally I think this is a slightly different case to those where the reference is an obscure, context-free numeric identifier that is never ordinarily used by humans. I personally find it useful to have the rights-of-way labelled on the map in my local area, and I'm not convinced that adding this information detracts from the map in any way. Dave.Dunford (talk) 11:45, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

The downside to this approach, as I see it, is when the local authority changes the name every time there's an intersection between PRoWs. For example, if you have two public footpaths crossing, you end up with four names instead of two. To the footpath user, you remain on the same path but the prow_ref changes. It might seem odd to then change its name. I think I prefer the only add a name if it's given one, rather than if no name add prow_ref instead, approach. (Sorry - I know this is an old post, just saw no-one had ever replied). Casey boy (talk) 15:28, 5 January 2021 (UTC)
Another problem with using the PRoW reference as the name is that sites that display PRoW references will want to know that something is a PRoW reference and not a name. For a couple of examples, see here: SomeoneElse (talk) 20:38, 15 October 2023 (UTC)

Northern Ireland tagging

According to one NI government website there are three types of public rights of way in NI:

  • footpath – open to walkers only
  • bridleway – open to walkers and horse riders
  • carriageway – open to walkers, cyclists, horse riders, horse-drawn vehicles and motor vehicles

If we were to map these consistently with their English/Welsh and Scottish counterparts, using the designation=* tag, then would that be designation=footpath, designation=bridleway and designation=carriageway? Unfortunately these seem that they might be too generic and open to confusion for others to use outside of NI. Casey boy (talk) 00:25, 6 February 2022 (UTC)

Perhaps sticking with the England and Wales tagging scheme makes the most sense? It's what I've suggested for the Isle of Man based on the current tagging used there. So:

For info, the current usage of the island of Ireland can be seen at . Ignoring the obvious spurious values that should be in description, the ones winning out are designation=public_footpath, designation=public_bridleway and designation=carriageway. An overpass query is . SomeoneElse (talk) 20:28, 15 October 2023 (UTC)