Accessibility on walking/cycling routes

In the UK local governments and organisations are supposed to design walking and cycling infrastructure with regard to disabled people. So dropped kerbs must be used at junctions, turning radii must be compatible, etc. And importantly, any and all barriers must allow what’s known as the “cycle design vehicle”.

Since 2010, barriers that exclude disabled people from cycle routes are discriminatory and therefore illegal. But local councils are ignorant of discrimination laws and therefore many thousands of these barriers remain.

Is there a tag that can be used, or perhaps created, that specifies whether a route, or obstacle on that route, is compatible with the above vehicle? For now I’ve taken to tagging such barriers with wheelchair=x (either using yes, no, or limited), but perhaps we need a more informative tag. Something that specifies the maximum length that a cycle can be to safely pass such a barrier?

Right now disabled users of route mapping software that relies on OSM are gambling on whether they can use a route or not. Here’s are some examples of discriminatory barriers (please do not start on about motorcycle abuse, that is a separate discussion):

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For cycle barriers there is a mapping scheme to map the design of the barrier. This should be suitable for your first example.

The second one could be tagged with width maxwidth:physical. I think that tag is more appropriate than width, as the latter would describe the width of the barrier. maxwidth would be for a legal restriction.

The downside is, that the first concept is not easy to evaluate as data user. The second one is easy, but not well established until now. But you may change that :slight_smile:


I don’t know if you already know this, but there are tag keys/values for different kinds of barriers that restrict entry.
Also, regardless of the legal issues in the UK, it’s my understanding that such barriers have a purpose in the first place.
If they inadvertently block access for people with disabilities, that’s obviously sad, and I think trying to prevent that from happening is a good thing.

Not sad - illegal. Disability is a protected class.

Thanks Robert, I knew of cycle barrier but hadn’t seen those extra attributes.

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You misunderstood me.
What I’m saying is that it’s sad if a barrier was installed for the purpose it was supposed to serve-motorcycles or bicycles but not people, animals but not people, etc.-and it ends up impeding access for people with disabilities.

(somewhat offtopic from the “tagging” questions here, but relevant to the UK)

Where is that actually written up in law for England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland?

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That combination isn’t massively used right now but would be really useful to e.g. mobility scooter users too where the turning circle may be limited.

One issue I do have with some of that page is the interpretation of physical restrictions as legal ones. It might be true, but in most cases won’t be. Also, some powered wheelchairs can navigate even regular kissing gates (without external assistance) so actual measurements are always more useful than “you couldn’t get an X through here”.


LTN1/20 provides guidance to local authorities on standards for active travel infrastructure.

The acid test is simply threatening authorities with legal action - Heavy Metal Handcyclist provided a template for this (he sadly died last year). Anytime he did this, the authority in question relented.

Unfortunately the Equality Act 2010 means that only people who are discriminated against can take action. So in the context of this discussion, using this route to remove barriers is only possible for disabled people.

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That sounds like a guideline rather than a legal requirement, though?

I can understand the logic of ensuring that any new provision does not artificially restrict who is physically able to access something**, and that e.g. offices are accessible to all, but this surely does not mean that (for example) every council in the UK with a mountain in their area has to put a ramp up it?

** I can think of at least one example where lack of access for all was used as a reason why a pub couldn’t reopen after a prolonged closure.

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It’s a legal requirement not to discriminate against disabled people. LTN1/20 tells authorities building walking and cycling infrastructure, how to do that.

Of course you don’t have to build ramps everywhere, but if you’re building a new bridge across a river (for example), whoever is building it needs a very, very good reason why they’re not making it accessible. And it can’t just be “because it’s too expensive”.

Anyway, this is a separate discussion not really for OSM.

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Most tags denote whether something is allowed or not based on the local laws. OSM tries to reflect these requirements in a legally neutral way. It does indicate whether a feature violates a law.

As others have said, it is up to citizens to use laws that require equal access to get our officials to fix these problems. OSM should be a good tool to show what is broken.

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