I am trying to achieve an agreement on an extension of the cycleway tagging scheme. Specifically on how to tag cycle lanes with dashed road markings, also simply called “dashed cycle lanes” (source).
Since it worked so well with the recent discourse on sett vs cobblestone, let’s try to repeat this success and find a solution for this tagging.
Let’s start with a picture:
For the sake of that there are no misunderstandings during discussion here, let’s use the following words in this topic because many different names are used for these things:
A - bikelane
B - dashed cycle lane
C - shared lane (cars share road explicitly with bikes)
In general, the difference between A and B is, that dashed cycle lanes are less strictly demarcated from the rest of the road than bikelanes. The legislations in different countries usually distinguish between these two as well. How they differ exactly varies from country to country, but in general, cyclists are not obligated to stay on these lanes and cars may cross into the lane (and stop on it). It is a soft segregation.
(For more details on the legislations, there is an overview on the German Wikipedia (translated), scroll down to “International Overview”.)
In practice, dashed cycle lanes are often used where there is not enough space on the road for both normal car lanes and additionally “proper” bikelanes: i.e. two cars cannot pass each other without one of them having to cross into the cycle lane. This, the fact that they are often quite slim and/or right next to parking cars with no safety zone and that there is ignorance over that they are usually as soft of a demarcation for cars as for cyclists, has made dashed cycle lanes extremely unpopular amongst cyclists because they are seen as both dangerous and stressful.
Some users suggest that dashed cycle lanes should be treated by router applications worse than shared lanes or even worse than no cycleway at all. (example)
In a nutshell, it is necessary to distinguish bikelanes from dashed cycle lanes because
in many countries, a different legislation applies to each of them
practically, it results in a different situation on the road
The wiki currently does not make a distinction between bikelanes and dashed cycle lanes and mentions in the paragraph for cycleway=lane:
Furthermore, the wiki page on Tag:cycleway=lane actually shows a dashed cycle lane. (Note: The German version of the same page shows a picture of a bikelane, but at the same time mentions that “It is demarcated from the road by a solid or dashed lane.”).
Basically, the wiki is pretty clear on that dashed cycle lanes should (also) be mapped as Tag:cycleway=lane.
Still, some people (in the German forum) previously argued for tagging dashed cycle lanes as shared lanes, so there might be instances where dashed cycle lanes have been tagged as shared_lane, especially in Germany. Also, some users from Germany report that most dashed cycle lanes they have seen have been mapped as shared lanes.
This only happened because in Germany, the concept of shared lanes does not officially exist and only recently, towns started to print those shared lane markings on the road.
Now, here it gets interesting - how to tag it? There are two decisions that have to be made - what key to use, and what value to use. From an earlier discussion on the German forum, which did not reach any consensus, I will consequently reiterate the arguments for/against each decision item.
At this point, I should mention that there was a proposal for soft lanes in 2014 which was rejected, mainly because it would change the meaning of existing tags (cycleway=lane) and because there was a (slight?) preference for the use of subtags instead.
A. The Key
Basically, as with any extension of an existing tagging scheme, to not change the meaning of the existing tags, there are two options (examples given are just examples, more to that further below!):
Phase out cycleway=lane and replace it with i.e. soft_lane and strict_lane. This is the same process as with landuse=farm to farmland and farmyard or surface=cobblestone to sett and unhewn_cobblestone
Define two subtags for cycleway=lane, i.e. cycleway:lane=soft and cycleway:lane=strict to distinguish between bikelanes and dashed cycle lanes
- Pro own tag:
more straightforward to map. Important detail is not hidden in subtag.
as explained initially, in practice (and in some countries in legislation), dashed cycle lanes are in effect somewhat different from bikelanes, this difference may be big enough to justify using two separate tags.
- Pro subtags:
it is more backward compatible for data consumers that only know how to handle cycleway=lane
introduction of own tag would be a large re-tagging effort (246k ways)
introduction of own tag was rejected in the past, partly because of a preference for subtags
introduction of own tag would further complicate the old mapping style for contraflow cycle lanes in oneway streets: i.e. cycleway=opposite_soft_lane and cycleway=opposite_hard_lane would be necessary. (Not a strong argument, as there is a better alternative to cycleway=opposite_* now anyway.)
the appearance of dashed cycle lanes is very similar to that of bikelanes
B. The Value
There have been a few proposals on how to name the values of such a tag. The main two groups are:
by appearance of markings: dashed, solid/continuous
by meaning of markings: soft/shared and hard/strict/exclusive
- Pro appearance:
mapping how it appears on the ground supports verifiability.
it may not be immediately clear for surveyors that when they see cycle lanes with dashed lanes, they should tag it as “soft” (as they do not see anything “soft” there)
legislations differ per country and may change, i.e. in some countries, a cycleway with solid lane markings may not be exclusive to cyclists after all or the other way round. Tagging by meaning implies meanings that may not be there
- Pro meaning:
bikelanes (=with solid lane markings) will be dashed nevertheless on an intersection or at the entrance of driveways. Users might be tempted to micro-map these sections as dashed when they tag it by appearance but less so if it is tagged by meaning. (Micro-mapping these section is not desired)
the presence of dashed cycle lanes (over bikelanes) carries meaning beyond how the road lane markings look like but also tells something about the situation of cyclists on the road (quality, usability, safety). I.e. higway tags also often carry the meaning of a road, not the appearance, such as residential or unclassified
Alright, that’s it! Did I miss anything pro- or contra?
I envision the procedure now as follows: First, this is open for discussion. Then, in case not everyone has unanimously the same preference, we do a vote on the key and on the value.