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the footway in the example looks like it is explicitly not for bicycles. 18:17, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

Not to me, it doesn't. It just looks like cyclists are prevented from going out into the street at full speed (because they have to negotiate the barrier). --Hawke 20:01, 23 July 2008 (UTC)
Yes, and exactly this makes the way a highway=path. Please use a better picture. --Scai 20:37, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
No, it doesn't, even if it could be tagged as a path. Thinking that all highway=footways are only the kinds with the blue pedestrian sign read the equivalences introduced in the path proposal the wrong way round. Your interpretation was decisively rejected at that poll; the definition of a highway=footway was never amended from "mainly or exclusively for pedestrians" - and it would be hard to change a meaning of a tag, esp. when it's one of the oldest tags. Only some language versions of the tagging guides emphasize using highway=path always when it's not signed for one mode of transport only. There are already several pages explaining the various users' needs and interpretations, at least: Consolidation_footway_cycleway_path, Path controversy. Alv 07:05, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
I still don't get why this is a footway and no path, could you explain it to me? The two mentioned pages don't really help me here. --Scai 08:15, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Think of the time before anyone introduced highway=path; there was only highway=footway and highway=cycleway. Then choose between the two, and the one in the picture is "mainly for pedestrians" (because it's made harder to use by cyclists), i.e. a footway. Alv 08:30, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Sure, if I only have the choice between them, footway fits more. But this isn't the case any longer. To me, there is still an exact differentiation between footway and path missing, all those pages just go in circles or have overlapping descriptions without explaining the definite distinctive features between the two types. There are many examples where both highway=footway and highway=path fit, this is really confusing. --Scai 11:17, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

footway vs pedestrian

Vovkav 09:05, 16 February 2010 (UTC): When should Tag:highway=footway and not Tag:highway=pedestrian be used? Should not we merge these two?

(Answered earlier at Talk:Tag:highway=pedestrian#footway vs pedestrian).

Should this be tagged surface=paved?

Or is that implied (despite not being in the infobox here)? I had been using the 'paved track' preset in Potlatch for paved urban paths, since the 'public footpath' preset doesn't include surface=paved, but apparently that's only for rural paths. --NE2 17:10, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

It's always good to tag the surface; about only thing we know to be paved all around the world are motorways, and possibly trunk roads. Presets are just the starting point (lowest common denominator) - 'public footpath' in Potlatch is for any, well, public way where you're allowed to walk but (most of the time) not allowed to use any other means of transport. Alv 17:42, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
So there's no preset for the most common type of footpath in a city? Gotcha. --NE2 18:04, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Formally derive from highway=path?

Subtitle: "There Is (hopefully) No Path Controversy (any more)"

Just sounding people out here. Could we generally settle on the notion that a highway=footway is a specialisation of highway=path? To me, here in the UK, it merely adds the loose but helpful information that it is a kind of highway=path which is normally used by pedestrians, or is built to be used by them. I'd like to see the main page updated with the emphasised wording too.

It would be good if we could formalise a proper notion of inheritance for these tags, to the extent of also stating that h=path's implications are inherited.

It's a simpler tag for new mappers to apply, Duck tagging and all that, and using the more specific tag conveys useful information information about the footpath's level if importance in the transportation network. After all, no-one's insisting on a single tag for all roads. The same notion of specialisation of a generic path could equally well apply to h=bridleway and h=cycleway if people find it amenable.

--achadwick 13:19, 3 May 2012 (BST)

I would agree with you.
I'd like to see if anyone disagrees with this, as I'd be quite suprised if that was the case. If no one objects in a few weeks, I'd say make the change. -- Joshdoe 15:38, 18 May 2012 (BST)

Advanced definition: Distinction footway vs path

I would like to propose an advanced definition of footway in order to have a classification criteria from "path".

"highway=footway is used for pathways designated for pedestrians. The designation may be explicitly by a signpost, implicitly by law (like sidewalks if mapped as distinct ways) or obviously by structural design. Designated footpaths are primarily common in residential areas, but may also exist out-of-town (recreational environments, parklands etc.).


The current definition ("minor pathways which are used mainly or exclusively by pedestrians") is not specific in providing definite distinctive features between footway and path. The consequences are misconceptions and assumptions in selecting the right type. --geow (talk) 17:20, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

  • Redefining so popular tags makes no sense, as it is already used on massive scale and there is no chance for review ensuring that usage will fit new definition. Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 18:03, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

Mateusz, I'm sorry but I don't share your general rejection. According to your belief it would be hardly possibly to develop and enhance the tagging of popular keys. Do you have any functional suggestions for a decent classification criteria between footway and path? --geow (talk) 19:57, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

I don't think signposts are enough to make a way a footway on their own. I'm seeing networks of wilderness trails using a mix of h=path and h=footway for similar trails based only on access restrictions, and I don't think that's right. To me, a footway should not only be designated for pedestrians, it should be relatively unattractive to other modes. For example, pathways between buildings on a campus and urban sidewalks are footways, because you probably wouldn't/ shouldn't ride a bike or a horse between buildings on campus. A trail which prohibits other modes but is physically similar to ways where cycles are allowed should use the same highway tag and only be different in the access tagging
Likewise, a cycleway should be specially attractive to cyclists relative to other modes. The easiest indicator is if the path is divided with a centerline, but the presence of cycle-specific traffic signals, roundabouts, and other cycle-specific infrastructure also helps. I also use cycleway/footway if the way is divided into separate, parallel paths which are designated to separate traffic. A typical user wouldn't walk on the cycle side if there's a designated pedestrian path running parallel two meters to the right.
In order to avoid overlapping keys, the highway tag should be based on how a typical user would use the network, with access restrictions of minor relevance at most, since that has its own keys. Dericke (talk) 19:01, 3 October 2015 (UTC)


Hi I checked and there are none as of yet, but we do have a lot of arielway:heating. We have one heated footway here in HSAND and I am about to tag it.--PangoSE (talk) 15:28, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

If it is a heated footway, wouldn't a tag like heated=yes be enough? What do you mean by footway:heating=yes? --Jeisenbe (talk) 14:23, 9 November 2019 (UTC)
The idea was to follow the convention used in arielway:heating. Heating=yes is just as fine. Fuel="district heating" also seems fine to me. Any objections to add these 2 to the article?--PangoSE (talk) 14:30, 9 November 2019 (UTC)
Perhaps I am misunderstanding your language, but a look at aerialway:heating=yes on the page Aerialway says that this tag says "If each carriage has heating." The correct English term should have been "heated=yes/no"; the gerund form "heating" suggests that the object provides heat for some other purpose. For example, you might have a heating steam pipe. But a footway or sidewalk which is warmed so that ice does not form would be called a "heated sidewalk". That's why "heating=yes" is not clear. --Jeisenbe (talk) 11:59, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
So we agree on footway:heating=yes now? Then I will go ahead and add it. We can leave out the fuel source for now.--PangoSE (talk) 13:46, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
No, it would be better to add a tag like heated=yes. If you want to propose a new tag, please see the Proposal process page. I would not recommend adding new tags to a major page like Tag:highway=footway without discussing them with the wider community. --Jeisenbe (talk) 15:37, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
Okay, I will change to heated=yes. Thanks for joining the discussion :)--PangoSE (talk) 09:21, 14 November 2019 (UTC)


I'd like to add a reference to ramp=* in the article, but I'm not sure where to put it. There doesn't seem to be a specific section for accessibility features. Perhaps the answer is to re-write the article to include one that can include ramp=*. The article could be clearer anyway. I'd like some suggestions first though. --Adamant1 (talk) 04:44, 18 April 2020 (UTC)

The page Key:ramp currently says: "It's normally used on staircases: ways that are tagged with highway=steps. ... A standalone ramp without steps can be tagged with highway=footway and incline=*" --Jeisenbe (talk) 11:33, 18 April 2020 (UTC)

Mapping footway as square is an incorrect tagging for renderer

@Nickvet419: - area=yes + highway=footway is an incorrect tagging for the renderer, as far as I know when used for footways rather than for squares. Why you described it as correct? Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 21:34, 8 February 2021 (UTC)

@Mateusz Konieczny:The text i added does not describe a square. Squares are considered places, not path features. It is common practice to mark walkable areas within a square as a pedestrian area as vehicles often use the area. Footway areas are the variant where only foot traffic is used. It has become common practice to use area=yes + highway=footway to map out the walkable areas within park areas as you see it in many theme parks, city parks, and other high foot traffic areas as described. Nickvet419 Flag of United StatesThis user is member of the wiki team of OSM 22:48, 8 February 2021 (UTC)
I noticed such use, but considered it as tagging for renderer, and something that should be replaced by area:highway=*. But admit, that looking at taginfo it seems very popular :( Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 23:04, 8 February 2021 (UTC)
Perhaps this needs to be fixed in OpenStreetMap Carto. --Jeisenbe (talk) 16:43, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
@Nickvet419: I had reverted the change in description on this page, but I see that you have changed it back. I believe this is incorrect advise. The areas of linear highways can be mapped with area:highway=*, e.g. area:highway=footway, while tags like highway=footway + area=yes are supposed to represent a square where pedestrians can travel freely in any direction. See e.g. highway=pedestrian + area=yes which is also used in that way. --Jeisenbe (talk) 05:58, 16 February 2021 (UTC)
If you take a look at many of the city parks, zoos, especially theme parks, that have wider and more complex walking areas, you will find that mapping techniques have gone far past just using the tag for squares. [1][2] [3] [4] [5] [6] for a few examples. Since OSM is always evolving, the instruction of how the tag is being used needed to be updated also.Nickvet419 This user is member of the wiki team of OSMFlag of United States 17:14, 16 February 2021 (UTC)
Also you may notice that some of these examples use highway=footway + area=yes and or highway=pedestrian + area=yes. so both instructions should be updated noting the difference that one area is used only for foot traffic, while the other can be used by vehicle also according to the definitions. Nickvet419 This user is member of the wiki team of OSMFlag of United States17:21, 16 February 2021 (UTC)
This mapping is definitely popular, though often clearly broken (mapping only disconnected areas in extreme cases). I am thinking about making proposal to deprecate highway=footway/highway=pedestrian + area=yes for sidewalk mapping (with area:highway=footway as a replacement) Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 17:57, 16 February 2021 (UTC)
I would think that tag still has things to be worked out, ex. usage, rendering.. which should have been done in the proposal stage which seems to have been abandoned. Also it was proposed as non-routable areas which dose not describe walkable pedestrian/footway areas. Nickvet419 This user is member of the wiki team of OSMFlag of United States18:20, 16 February 2021 (UTC)

I recently posted about this topic to the tagging mailing list and I think the outcome was that highway=footway, area=yes is not always incorrect. If one simply wants to map the area of a footway (i.e. micromapping the width) then, yes, one should probably use area:highway=*. However, there are instances where footway areas do exist, in that pedestrians are free to move around in a non-linear fashion and these are not squares/plazas (for example, large sidewalks with benches on them etc but are attached to a road and thus do not meet the definition of highway=pedestrian). We should, therefore, allow highway=footway, area=yes just as we allow highway=pedestrian, area=yes or else we risk mis-tagging highway=footway as highway=pedestrian Casey boy (talk) 15:01, 3 November 2021 (UTC)

Indeed, I note that this is also the current guidance on the area:highway=* page. Therefore, I'm going to update the "areas" guidance on this page to match. Casey boy (talk) 15:05, 3 November 2021 (UTC)
Done. Hopefully this provides a balanced view of the current situation. Casey boy (talk) 15:35, 3 November 2021 (UTC)

Attach Ways to Area by Edges or Through Area

I would like to add some highway=footway areas and I'm wondering how to attach the surrounding footways to this new area. Should the ways end at the ways (i.e. should the area be 'empty' of ways on the inside) or should the way run all the way through the area to the logical endpoint on the other side of the area? --IanVG (talk) 15:37, 7 June 2021 (UTC)

I usually run through. Depending on exact situation both can be argued as preferable, neither is wrong Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 16:18, 7 June 2021 (UTC)
I also run through. The possible traversable path should be as accurate as possible. --Lectrician1 (talk) 11:59, 8 June 2021 (UTC)
@Mateusz Konieczny: @Lectrician1: great! Thank you both for the clarification. I know there is a link on the main page to the discussion page, but I think a combination of the both of your simple and concise explanations would benefit the main page and reduce confusion. What do you think? --IanVG (talk) 04:22, 26 July 2021 (UTC)
@IanVG: feel free to add it if you have a specific idea how to do this! Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 06:26, 26 July 2021 (UTC)
Just to give a more complete picture: I would personally only draw a way across a highway area if that path is visibly distinct from the overall area. In my experience, drawing invisible paths across areas is often motivated by limitations of OSM routing software (which really ought be able to calculate these paths on its own, but typically isn't). So it strikes me as a workaround that would become obsolete with better software, and I would prefer if people tagged them differently from ways that actually exist on the ground to make them easier to exclude during rendering. Still, they aren't too bad as long as they share nodes with the area. --Tordanik 21:38, 8 August 2021 (UTC)


What part of highway=footway defines it as 'a minor pathway'? All ways taken by foot should be tagged as 'highway=footway'. Any other distinguishing features should be tagged with additional sub/adjective tags. --DaveF63 (talk) 21:16, 21 January 2022 (UTC)