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Default access for motorway

To avoid an edit war: What should be the default access permissions on a motorway? I would say it is access=no, motorcar=yes, because everywhere that I'm aware of, motorways/interstates/etc. do not allow anything but motor vehicles. I have taken "motorcar" to mean all motor vehicles. What do others think? --Hawke 15:36, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

I think eventually we'll have to come up with a country specific scheme for whatever's implied. Access=no? I originally took that in the same was as some roads have "access=private". Maybe I misunderstood. But I think we need to be a bit more specific than just access=no. Granted that bikes, horse riders, pedestrians are forbidden, but for UK motorways, there are a host of implications that would need to be taken into account. For UK motorways, the speed limit varies according to the type of vehicle involved e.g. Cars = 70mph unless signed otherwise, all the way down to certain types of track-laying vehicles, 5mph. Only certain types of motor vehicles are allowed to use the motorway. Mopeds and small-engined motorbikes are prohibited. So are agricultural tractors. Learner car drivers may not use a motorway. etc. Richard B 22:17, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
We may end up needing country-specific schemes as well, but I'd rather try to go without to the extent possible. The restrictions you listed fit with the restrictions on an Interstate in the US (with the exception of learner drivers and the specific values of speed limits). I'm not so much interested in getting a full list of all the implications, I'm just going for basic characteristics that define motorway-equivalent roads world-wide. I think one of those is that access is fairly heavily restricted. So where with a non-motorway road it's probably better to say "everything can use it, except:...", for a motorway it's probably better to say "nothing can use it, except:...". Defaults of access=no in combination with motorcar=yes (and possibly motorcycle=yes) would seem to accomplish this. Do you agree that far at least? --Hawke 22:53, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
With hgv=yes probably as well - that's a tag that's heavily used on minor roads in the opposite sense. Richard B 11:44, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. access=no with motorcar=yes is excluding motorcycles, caravans, goods, psv and ATVs from the motorway. At least in regards to the hierarchy depicted at Key:access. Of course there may be additionally different national legal restrictions. --HeikoE 20:07, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
My comment was written before that hierarchy was created. Today I would say motor_vehicle=yes instead of motorcar=yes. --Hawke 22:28, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
I agree with HeikoE, current implications are flawed, a lot of vehicles are excluded that shouldn't. With motor_vehicle=yes we would have to exclude additionally some vehicles though, e.g. mofas and mopeds.--Dieterdreist 11:47, 26 June 2012 (BST)

Many Interstates in the Western U.S. allow pedestrians and bicycles, usually because there is no other road. --NE2 06:05, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Sure, but those can be tagged with bicycle=yes and foot=yes. This is just about the defaults, i.e. what should be assumed (e.g. by routers) if there’s no tag, and when can the tag be omitted? --Hawke 19:07, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

Intersection on an otherwise motorway?

What should be done in the case where a motorway ends at an intersection, but begins again on the other side? There's no place except within the intersection that the road is not built to motorway standards, but showing it as a continuous motorway is misleading. --NE2 06:05, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

I’d tag it as trunk between the intersection and the next entrance/exit ramps. That’s how I handle motorway/trunk transitions in general (where it doesn’t ever go back to motorway.) --Hawke 19:07, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
In places where motorway actually implies restrictions, that's incorrect, since non-motorized vehicles are not allowed on the portion between the intersection and the next junction. Elsewhere it could still be problematic if there are many miles between the intersection and the previous junction. --NE2 00:57, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, you could tag those restrictions, or you could just leave it as a highway=motorway with a level intersection. --Hawke 07:33, 6 January 2010 (UTC)


Currently it says:

  • access=no
  • motorcar=yes
  • hgv=yes

I'm pretty sure it formerly said something like access=yes foot=no bicycle=no. The above bans buses, ambulances, and other motor vehicles. Would motor_vehicle=yes be correct, or is there still a problem with that? --NE2 13:16, 25 October 2011 (BST)


I think, we should write, that maximum speed can be tagged by <countrycode>:motorway, if maximum speed is determined not by maximum speed signs, but by sign "motorway". Dinamik (talk) 11:13, 11 March 2016 (UTC)

Two-way case

The article on highway=* says that motorways are  restricted access, which implies dual carriageway, each side one-way. But this article admits the possibility of two-way motorways. So is separation of flows a requirement? --Fernando Trebien (talk) 10:56, 17 December 2017 (UTC)

In Poland motorway during maintenance may have one of carriageways temporarily closed, with one becoming two-way without physical separation. It is still motorway but one may at least in theory map such state (especially as sometimes this state exists for quite long time). So it is at least one way to have dual carriageway requirement and no physical separation Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 13:13, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
This is not specific to Poland, this occurs everywhere (most often at unpredictable times: these are unplanned events); the motorways are preequiped with openable passages where trafic can be deviated for maintenance works, or in case of accidents or other events. However these events are very short in time, and very visibly signaled (including with temporary speed restrictions, and cones separating the lanes temporarily, and flashing alerts before the deviation or before end (because the tempoary passages have very short curves). So a motorway normally usable at 130km/h on separate oneway carriageways will merge onto one side. The lanes on this side will be oneway, the emergency stop lane on the right (normally restricted against normal trafic) may be also be used to facilitate the separation and security. In rare cases, the trafic may be alternating with trafic signals if the available width does not allow setting two separate oneway lanes on the single carriageway left.
Currently the mapping of passages for temporary deviations is not mapped. These positions are visible along the motorway (the trafic signals for deviations are just non oriented, and there's a removable "light" barrier between the two carriages and a paved surface instead of the usual island with grass/trees (this surface is usually painted with some zebras, meaning no stop allowed in absence of the deviation signal). On
Motorways with dual carriage, there are such passages every about 2-5 km if there's no entry/exit way usable, and no service areas (oil stations, rest areas, that are installed about every 20 km, also with access service highways to the secondary or rural road network, that are normally closed but may be occasionally opened for emergency situations). Near urban areas, these passages are more exceptional because there are enough entry/exit near enougj, and the trafic may be more easily blocked and deviated with help of the police to protect the needed u-turns and allowing for that the temporary use of emergency stop lanes for evacuating the closed section. — Verdy_p (talk) 13:52, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
"Currently the mapping of passages for temporary deviations is not mapped." - sometimes people map temporary state, especially if construction takes a longer time Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 11:42, 20 December 2017 (UTC)

Toll gates

Motorways may have toll gates

Is it desirable to have several parallel highway=motorway or highway=motorway_link? I think that answer is clearly "no", but if there is a doubt I would be happy to discuss it more widely Mateusz Konieczny 14:22, 20 January 2021 (UTC)

If I want to map the amenity=atm nodes correctly in relation to a service=drive-through way, I technically have to map multiple drive-through ways.
…with foot=yes bicycle=yes on the ways…

@Mateusz Konieczny: I see you've answered your own question. ;^) This question comes up every now and then on OSMUS Slack in a few different forms: lanes around toll booths, lanes around checkpoints at border crossings, or drive-through lanes at a bank or gas station. The advice I always give is to consider both forms acceptable, but regard separate ways as more thorough micromapping that adheres to the physical separation rule (consistent with the considerations for dual carriageways and sidewalks as ways). I've always used separate ways on freeways but have rarely bothered with separate ways for drive-throughs.

Regardless, if you map the lanes as individual ways, it's important that the individual ways begin and end where the barriers begin and end, as opposed to extending the ways for miles based on where cars queue up. Wherever you map the lanes together as one way, it's important to tag lanes=* and change:lanes=* on the way. Ideally, navigation software would use the lane count to increase the rerouting tolerance. Otherwise, someone using the leftmost or rightmost aisle would experience frequent rerouting as the software insists on taking the middle aisle.

 – Minh Nguyễn 💬 21:20, 2 August 2021 (UTC)

"it's important that the individual ways begin and end where the barriers begin and end" that variant also should be fine (though I never seen it used). Though I encountered recommendation to not split road into two on every crossing island, it seems quite similar Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 13:28, 3 August 2021 (UTC)
That recommendation about crossing islands is quite similar in that many mappers do prefer to split the road, especially when getting into details like curb cuts and traffic signs that geometrically fall somewhere in the middle. It ends up being a regional difference, more or less. In my opinion, the wiki should be accommodating of micromapping styles so that people don't overzealously delete detail based on a literal reading of the wiki. – Minh Nguyễn 💬 17:31, 3 August 2021 (UTC)

Terminus at grade

I think it would be appropriate to explicitly state that a motorway can abruptly begin or end at an intersection with another road. Otherwise, I've encountered or heard of mappers arbitrarily downgrading several hundred feet of motorway to highway=trunk because they thought a highway=motorway classification can't touch an at-grade intersection (such as highway=traffic_signals) under any circumstance. Such stubs potentially prevent routers from alerting the user to such an abrupt intersection. It can also be inconsistent with ground truth: for example, in California, R57-1 can be posted right at an intersection. – Minh Nguyễn 💬 07:09, 7 October 2021 (UTC)

Highway Signs?

Has any tagging been created for highway signage? --Nickvet419 This user is member of the wiki team of OSMFlag of United States. 20:10, 22 October 2021 (UTC)

Can you be more specific? Is it specifically about traffic sign indicating motorway start? Destination signs? Turn lanes? Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 22:06, 22 October 2021 (UTC)