Talk:Cycleway/New Mapping Scheme

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Only promote drawing separate ways?

I see no need to get rid of the cycleway=*, but just to promote awareness of, that drawing cycleways as separate ways even if they are right next to a road is more beneficial than a simple tag "cycleway=track/lane" on some road. Even more so if the side of the road is somehow important - probably for most cases it's just nice to know beforehand but the cyclist can make his micro-routing (i.e. crossing the street when necessary) if she knows which way he's turning next and that there's a cycleway "on this road". A casual mapper can just add "here was a cycleway, too" or take the time to add it and all the necessary junctions with the road it's following and the roads it crosses. Most of the time I'm using the latter method of adding a separate highway=cycleway. As you've written, it's the only way to add surface, width and other information relevant to the cycleway only.

It's clearly stated (albeit hard to find) that the "official way" to tag combined cycle and footways is highway=cycleway, foot=yes if they "look like they could be called a cycleway". There has been talk but no proposal, yet (my bad), to propose the value 'designated' (as in foot=designated) for cycleways with a posted sign making them designated for several methods of travel - which would make it unambiguous.Alv 09:23, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree with you, don't just deprecate the use of cycleway=* for highway=whatever. Adding cycleways as their own highway may give more realistic maps, but don't forget the practical issues:
  • You need to track each of these cycleways somehow before you can enter them in OSM (I don't think putting in cycleways at an arbitrary location next to the road is a good thing). When a person is driving a car while mapping he could easily see that there is a cycleway, so then he could just add a cycleway=track/lane to the road.
I have found that with some practice (and possibly photos) one becomes accurate enough (within few meters) at estimating the distance from the center of the road to the center of the cycleway. One can relate the observations to "known" widths of the lanes, cars in the photos etc. and use editors with measurement tools. But it requires the effort and dedication to take them notes. Alv 15:11, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Entering each cycleway individually also takes loads of extra time (tracking them by GPS + entering them + tagging them + routing + much increased intersection complexity) which certain persons can't (or are not willing to) spend on OSM. Don't force mappers to add individual cycleways everytime or they either won't do it, or do it at some estimated location which may eventually be way off compared to its real location.
So for these cases the "easy way" will always be needed. --Eimai 13:08, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, I always do this with normal streets when mapping: I cycle the cycleway (or walk on the pavement) and then I put the road next to the recorded track. I don't see why this shouldn't work the other way round? If you really need an easy way, then in my oppinion this should be, to omit the cycleways completely - something, that is frequently done with other stuff too. --Kumakyoo 13:52, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
That sounds something like: don't add single nodes for things like shops and other buildings, since you can always track the building outlines instead. For those we have the "easy way": add a node, and the way which needs considerably more time and effort: add the building outlines.
I can't see that adding this "lower resolution" data like cycleway tags on the main road is a bad thing: giving information can't be bad, right? --Eimai 14:21, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
OK. But it should be made sure, that people understand, that this is only an easy way, and that separate ways are the preferred way to render cycleways, shouldn't it? --Kumakyoo 15:56, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Need to demonstrate renderer support (that's not horribly ugly) for this, I think. Rules for both osmarender and mapnik would be great. It might be nicely backwards-compatible too. One alternative method that has some support right now and which is going through the conventional proposal channel is Proposed features/right left. IMO, adding cycleway tags to the main road is especially appropriate for cycle "lane"s (painted strips on the main carriageway) and some parallel on-pavement "track"s. But not heavily-segregated parallel tracks. Combine this with the above to give cycleway:left and cycleway:right, and maybe junk or repurpose the horrid opposite_* terminology and I think you have a very workable solution that doesn't involve drawing extra ways or obsessing about where the cycleway sits relative to the main carriageway. Sometimes it's enough to say merely "here is some bike provision". --achadwick 20:40, 21 March 2009 (UTC)


As for the cycleroads, I must ask (the picture's quite small so can't read the sign) if they are of the same variety I've found lately in Finland: marked as a cycleway or a combined cycle and footway but with an added text sign effectively stating "driving to houses allowed" or "service traffic allowed"? If so, they're mostly the only way to the destination and the driver either gets routing directions to use that cycleway or manually finds the start of the cycleroad when going to the "point on a road nearest to his destination" and then finds out he's allowed to drive all the way.Alv 09:23, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

The road you describe seems to be the same kind of road which has appeared in Belgium the last years. They have signs like this (with variations on the depicted symbols). These roads are for pedestrians, cyclists, horses and agriculture vehicles, but it's also allowed for vehicles to/from the buildings and parcels on that road. I'm not sure yet if "cycleroad" is a good description of this, I usually use "highway=residential/unclassified, access=destination, foot=yes, bicycle=yes, horse=yes, agriculture=yes" (perhaps I could add "emergency=yes" as well, but to my knowledge, those vehicles are allowed everywhere anyway). We actually don't have a name for these roads, in traffic law they just call them "roads reserved for agriculture vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and horse drivers". They sometimes have a red asphalt though, which is the material usually used for cycleways, and for cyclists and pedestrians the rules are (almost) those of dedicated cycleways/footways (they can use the full width of the road for example). --Eimai 12:49, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, a cycleroad is something different. What you describe, is a cycleway with "access=destination". It's difficult to write, what the differences are, but I'll try to do so:
Maybe it's best to do this from the history viewpoint: When more and more bicycles came on to the road, in some roads you found more bicycles than cars and thus some cities in germany started to mark this roads as cycleways (and most often an additional sign saying, that cars are allowed). As this differed in different cities, in 1997, when the law concerning bicycles in germany has been updated, these roads where calles cycleroads with a special sign (see
Without other signs, on this roads (which typically include pavements like other residential roads), only bikes are allowed. If cars are allowed too, they may only go with cyclespeed which is arround 25 km/h. In difference to other (residential) roads bikes my go side by side and are privileged.
Maybe, the main difference between cycleways and cycleroads is, that cycleroads are fullgrown roads with pavements next to them, quite often several meters broad.
More on this can be found at (in german).--Kumakyoo 13:40, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

But. Think of the maths.

Nice at z17+, but this wouldn't be at all easy to render at z13-16 which in practice is what you need to actually print a street map. The processing required to analyse the members of the relation, and turn them into the equivalent single way is a right pain, even if you could rely on the members to be close enough to parallel lines, with adjacent beginnings and ends - which you can't. It's got to be more-heavily structured than that.

That's why I've concluded that the core requirement is a single way, such as: highway=primary cycleway:left=lane cycleway:right=track

and that if you want more detail, you need to use extended tagging, possibly as part of a more-general lane framework, such as: highway=primary cycleway:left=lane cycleway:right=track cycleway:left:width=1.5 cycleway:right:surface=paved cycleway:right:offset=10

This could do with editor support (to hide the colons), but would work with existing editors.

PS - the imprecision of the path/footway/cycleway debate has put me pretty close to abandoning this project too. But I figure the end result is worth a bit of hard thinking. Anyone who believes this map is "free" just isn't paying attention.--RichardMann 11:35, 6 October 2009 (UTC)