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Discuss Tag:highway=steps here:


I think it makes sense to use highway=steps also on nodes, to describe a single step or a small flight of steps. If you don't have aerial photography, it's quite hard to create an accurate separate way. I've been using it like this for a while, and apart from the fact that it isn't rendered, I don't see a problem with it. Robx 09:25, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

I totally agree with you Robx. GeoJ 12:48, 21 July 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't agree here. I still think a short way is desirable, over a node. Remember that a node represents a point. You use steps to travel from A to B. A node steps would be travelling from A to A. I believe the only way a node could be permissable for something you could walk a distance over might be something like a road crossing - where there is some context (i.e. the node represents crossing the way, not merely a link between two separate ways). I don't believe that short ways need to be particularly accurate - and of course if you use JOSM, you can zoom in and create ways of almost arbitrary smallness. Richard B 19:14, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
As it makes a big difference for the handicapped an for persons carrying a bicicly with heavy load if they have to climb up or down, a node is not suitable for mapping steps. --Lulu-Ann 16:25, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
Of course in some cases mapping steps as a way may be more useful, but in most cases it's annoying when a way is cut into pieces just b/c there's a small steps.
Mapping steps as a node is much more comfortable:
  1. in cases like way-steps-junction-steps-junction-steps-junction-steps-way it's very nasty to cut the way into pieces
  2. you can still tag/name/edit the footway as a whole
  3. in my area there are cases of a 100m footway with three times three stairs & and I feel terrible about
    1. cutting the way in 7 (!) pieces or
    2. pretending that there's a 100m staircase..
  4. very likely there would be more steps tagged if it's more simple
  5. the information 'there are stairs' is the most valuable
  6. you can still tell the direction (eg. inclining in the direction of the way -->-->-->--)
  7. the mapnik rendering of stairs like ||||||| sucks. --DerKuchen 17:10, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
Seems you are the only one who is to lazy to map some stairs the right way. I recommend you place your nodes in OpenStreetBugs, as somebody needs to clean up after you anyways :-) Lulu-Ann

What about steps with no horizontal extent - ladders. [1] --SpeedEvil 18:11, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

A way, by definition, implies horizontal extent in the direction of the way. A single step in a footpath does not generally have measurable horizontal extent (except across the way). Therefore, tagging a single step as a way is logically incorrect. Moreover, the word "steps" is a plural. Tagging a single step as "highway=steps" is grammatically incorrect. On the other hand, a node does not necessarily imply a lack of physical extent. Almost all objects worth mapping have some extent. Quite a large object, such as an airport, can be mapped as a single node. --T99 (talk) 19:55, 27 March 2016 (UTC)

Apparently, since there has been no objection in over 4 years, the above mentioned use of this tag on a node has been approved de facto. There's also another case were a single node is appropriate: a vertical stairwell containing multiple overlapping flights of stairs in a zig-zag, spiral or other formation, where it's not practical to map the horizontal extent of any of the flights. The location of the stairwell is still useful information. If you don't agree, you are welcome to come and map the missing detail. -- T99 (talk) 07:57, 25 June 2020 (UTC)

Where and by whom is it approved 'de facto'? Or where is it displayed as approved? I see only a node icon crossed in red, and the tooltip saying "should not be used on nodes" on this Wiki page. Without it one cannot even make QA tools like OSMI to accept it. Anyway, I also second the pro-arguments above, like a single step or steps too far away from each other. A step_count=*=1 would indicate it's indeed a single step so it imposes only a minor difficulty for wheelchairs, strollers, bicycles or for the elderly. Like a kerb. (Please don't suggest using barrier=kerb nodes instead for single steps.) ITineris (talk) 06:31, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
Personally, I use short segment of highway=steps line with step_count=1. Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 08:56, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
"cutting the way in 7 (!) pieces" - I see no problem with that and do it, in case of evenly spaced steps (one step every 4 meters) step_count=* is useful. Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 08:56, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
"the mapnik rendering of stairs like ||||||| sucks" - rendering in specific map style is offtopic here Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 08:56, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
Overall I see no need for tagging steps on nodes Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 08:56, 4 February 2021 (UTC)

Implied Wheelchair=no

I don't think that wheelchair=no should be implied. If somebody is tagging steps he/she might forget the implied wheelchair=no. Later on you won't be able to find out if somebody has taken the decision that there is no ramp or if the manual setting of wheelchair=no has been forgotten. Routing software for the handicapped will consider steps to be barriers anyway, so no need to imply this in the tagging. As I don't know about a voting about this I will remove the "implies wheelchair=no". --Lulu-Ann 16:29, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Well, it is obvious that routing software will – as you say – consider all steps not explicitly tagged as usable for wheelchairs to be a barrier, which is the very meaning of it being “implied”. Personally, I’d prefer if router designers didn’t need to use undocumented assumptions, not the least because they might forget some relevant implications. Moreover, implying a “no” here wouldn’t stop mappers from explicitly setting a wheelchair=no to indicate that they have indeed checked this fact.
But alright, if you disagree here, we’ll leave it out. --Tordanik 17:31, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
(my 2nd comment in a row) Maybe it's good for public awareness to add wheelchair=no . For example someone notices that tag saying 'no' and gets the idea to ask the local administration to add wheelchair ramps to steps planned for the future, or even modify existing steps. Logictheo 08:51, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

I've also reconsidered, when before I thought it was a good idea to imply wheelchair=no . Since most people are not in wheelchairs it's logical to not put it in. The software in the wheelchair case might instead search for the wheelchair=yes tag, which I think is the most practical solution Logictheo 08:45, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

If in doubt, we should probably assume that an arbitrary set of steps is not navigable by wheelchair unassisted. I have certainly seen flights that have shallow risers and long going that a wheelchair user can negotiate, but this only comes where we have specific knowledge of the flight. Chriscf 09:50, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
See also DE:Rollstuhlfahrer-Routing

highway=steps, bicycle=yes

I have an example of where bicycles and be brought up/down stairs. And Yes, on the right side is the up side of the stairs. I'll tag it highway=steps bicycle=yes and include this stairway as part of a cycle route (as it is). The paved path stops and turns to gravel when going under the bridge, not suitable for road bicycles.

Imo, that's no "bicycle=yes", because you can't drive your bicycle up/down there. Carrying or pushing bicycles doesn't count for bicycle=* (otherwise, most pedestrian only ways would need a bicycle=yes, which would lead to wrong interpretations by software), but should of course be assumed as a possibility by bicycle routers. --Tordanik 11:53, 1 April 2009 (UTC)
But their might be some talented folks who could :) But this is an extension of the hand rail. As in this case, it doesn't require the user to 'carry' the bike... they 'push' the bike up/down. Ideal for long distance tourers with lots of gear. The feature is designed specifically for bicycles.

--acrosscanadatrails 19:05, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

When a steep ramp is wheelchair=limited, then is a ramp to push a bike up/down bicycle=limited, as it slows you down, you need to get off the bike and it is not possible to use it with heavy luggage. --Lulu-Ann 12:52, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
Stroller yes.jpg

This is to me:

--Lulu-Ann 12:52, 23 April 2009 (UTC)


I would like to clarify what kind of ramps there are on steps. What does ramp=yes mean? Is it the same as a stroller_ramp=yes? I think this should be documented and explained with pictures. --Driver2 00:52, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

If stroller_ramp=yes then bicycle_ramp=yes should also exist (as per above image link) because it is a physical feature designed to assist those with strollers (ramp eithor side) --acrosscanadatrails 03:30, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Sounds better to me than ramp=yes, wheelchair=no for stroller ramps. --Lulu-Ann 10:54, 13 September 2009 (UTC)


Should steps have a level tag on them? Or do they inherit the level on both ends because of course they transition between levels. Of course, the ground could have a slop up which the stairs climb, in which case the stairs *don't* transition between levels. But you can figure that out by looking at the levels of the things on both ends. RussNelson 21:29, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

Sure, see level proposal. --Lulu-Ann 22:40, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

Spiral and helical stairs

There is some spiral stairs on the streets.

I propose to map it as a way from one end to another (through additional node at the central pole), with "spiral=yes".

Maybe some extra tags with information about number of turns or height would be useful too. --Antares19 08:59, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

How about mapping them as nodes instead of ways (with highway=steps and steps:type=spiral or spiral=yes)? Since a spiral staircase goes straight up, mapping it as a way doesn't really make sense. --CareyM

It doesn't go straight up, but around a central pole. So just map a way going in (multiple) circles. No need for a special case. It might seem somewhat pointless in 2D, but when mapping indoor features, you need to take the third dimension into account.--Tordanik 15:37, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

highway=spiral_staircase University of Cambridge#Building_entrances Davileci (talk) 11:53, 25 April 2023 (UTC)

low density steps


I propose to add as an example that highway=steps may be used to tag also relatively low density steps Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 16:06, 8 November 2017 (UTC)

Wearing my data consumer hat, that image makes me a bit uncomfortable. It breaks several common assumptions (equal distance between steps, each individual step being mostly straight), and I doubt I could treat it correctly if it's tagged indistinguishably from regular steps. That gravel section after the first step on the bottom right, in particular, looks pretty much like a regular path rather than part of a flight of steps. --Tordanik 18:18, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
So how it should be tagged? Each step as separate short highway=steps way (I encountered this in past)? Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 22:39, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
I would probably tag at least the step on the bottom right as a separate short highway=steps, yes. For the two steps that are closer to each other, either separate ways or a single highway=steps way would work in my opinion. Preferably, all of these should also use step_count=* to make the situation more clear. --Tordanik 15:09, 26 November 2017 (UTC)

Now there is flat_steps=* a tag to express that the steps are actually flat enough to be driven on (e.g. 1 step every meter) mentioned in Tag:highway=steps#Tags_to_use_in_combination --Opk12 (talk) 16:02, 20 September 2022 (UTC)

Tagging wheelchair lifts

We have the ramp=* tag to indicate that the steps have an attached ramp so that wheelchairs can navigate it. But, what do we do if the steps have an attached chair lift? Something like Could we use a tag like chairlift=yes. Or would it be smarter to generalize wheelchair access to either wheelchair=ramp or wheelchair=lift ? --Taktaal (talk) 09:58, 20 April 2021 (UTC)

Steps at heart/axis of ways

We have many ways in the hilly/mountainous area that are usually surface=concrete, narrow themselves, 2.5 to 3 meters wide with steps at the heart of 0.5m at or so wide (1.5-2 feet), the way itself often with anti-skid carvings for cars when wet or snowy. These residential (drive)ways are reasonably to quite steep. They have either steps integrated at the axis or at one of the sides. To kick a conversation in taginfo I've mapped a way with incline and added steps=centre. At the sides I've so far mapped them separately but could as well use steps=left and steps=right however the way's direction was originally mapped. Any thoughts on how to map/tag these features?

--SekeRob (talk) 12:17, 20 April 2022 (UTC)

Steps could be an area too

I was looking at w:Spanish Steps thinking if one could tag areas also as steps, one

  1. needn't draw random paths over areas.
  2. needn't use pedestrian area, etc.

The only problem is how to indicate incline. Maybe when editing, "draw a vector in the direction of maximum incline." (Or just give an azimuth.) But then again the stairs might be curved...

Anyway, somebody deal with this for me. Thanks. Jidanni (talk) 15:11, 21 November 2022 (UTC)

@Jidanni: Perhaps area:highway=steps would be appropriate. Routers generally don't know how to route over areas, so it wouldn't be a replacement for mapping the "centerline" of the steps. The centerline is also more appropriate for indicating the incline. Perhaps in the future there may be a more mainstream way of mapping each individual step as an area, useful for terraces with very large steps. – Minh Nguyễn 💬 21:35, 21 November 2022 (UTC)

Underwater steps

(Renderers should expect steps in swimming pools etc. They aren't errors.) Jidanni (talk) 14:56, 23 November 2022 (UTC)


If known, use the tag incline=up — when the direction of the way points upwards — or the tag incline=down, respectively.

Mention what to do about, cases like commons:File:Steps but with no incline.jpg, where they are indeed steps. But they are going neither up nor down.

Or mention if they thus are not steps, but instead some kind of trail surface.

By the way, on the File:FLT CT6 10.9 mi - 12 log steps - panoramio.jpg example given, there is no incline=*, so viewers cannot tell if those steps are going up or down, or neither, as in the first image I mentioned.

Perhaps add incline tags to each example. Hmmm, also assume the way points away from the camera, and mention that assumption. (Else up becomes down.)

See also Talk:Key:surface#Stone slabs / stone_blocks.

Jidanni (talk) 03:41, 31 January 2023 (UTC)

Wouldn't that just be like incline=0% (which has 48,043 uses BTW)? --Adamant1 (talk) 04:08, 31 January 2023 (UTC)
I agree that incline=0% makes sense for a way with no incline.
As for whether that first example image is a highway=step, I'd say no. --Tordanik 17:15, 1 February 2023 (UTC)
These are not steps Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 07:30, 2 February 2023 (UTC)

Highway=pedestrian with steps

How to indicate that a highway=pedestrian has steps? I thought steps=yes would be fine, but the wiki states it's used for other purposes. --AntMadeira (talk) 02:45, 19 February 2023 (UTC)

I would map such section as highway=steps and tag width Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 15:13, 20 February 2023 (UTC)
It's not just a section, it's the entire street. It's a pedestrian and residential street. Where would be the information that it is a residential/pedestrian street with toponymy, not just a stairway? --AntMadeira (talk) 19:02, 20 February 2023 (UTC)
You can put name=* on highway=steps though that would fail to mark them as stree-sized steps Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 18:33, 28 February 2023 (UTC)
Yes, there are cases where that makes sense, and I already mapped some like that, but those are clearly steps, not a street. Here's an example of a pedestrian highway with steps. --AntMadeira (talk) 01:51, 1 March 2023 (UTC)
For me this pictured one is clearly highway=steps (maybe with name=* if named) Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 09:43, 2 March 2023 (UTC)
Well, believe be, it is not. It even has "street" in its name. But that shouldn't stop us from contemplate that hypothesis. --AntMadeira (talk) 13:43, 2 March 2023 (UTC)
I tagged similar things as highway=steps (including named ones) - and something may be steps and street at the same time Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 03:18, 3 March 2023 (UTC)
How would you tag streets like these (with houses, mailboxes, stores, etc.) for pedestrians only if they hadn't steps? [1], [2], [3], [4]. --AntMadeira (talk) 06:11, 3 March 2023 (UTC)
highway=pedestrian or highway=footway (both with {{tag|name}) - it is a bit hard to judge width from a photo Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 11:33, 3 March 2023 (UTC)