Do way directions matter?

I’ve been trying to find information about determining the direction of way segments on OpenStreetMap. I’ve searched through the OpenStreetMap wiki and the community forums, but so far I’ve only found that it’s important for waterways. It’s possible that I may have misunderstood that part as well. I assume that if a highway is designated as oneway, it would make sense to draw it in the direction of the road, right?

But what if it’s not a one-way path? Let’s take an example of a park: Do footway segments in the park need to follow any specific direction, or can they simply be connected as they are drawn?


You are correct: the segment direction is importanti for oneway too (and other tags).


The way direction is only relevant in special cases.

As already said: waterways, highways with a oneway tag, objects with “sides” (cliffs, certain walls, embankments etc), and attributes that are side and direction dependent (anything with forward:*, backward:*, left:*, right:* and for example incline).


Just to add: roof:shape=skillion as a special case

1 Like

I think this wiki category is supposed to cover when it matters


including also natural=coastline


@EdLoach, right, it seems that’s the page I was trying to find, but failed. I was looking for “way direction”, but it didn’t appear on the first pages of the search results. It’s only now that I noticed that it was referenced on the page Forward & backward, left & right - OpenStreetMap Wiki of the very first result of the search, at the bottom, in “See Also”.

Anyway, I found the explanations in this topic even better, more concise, with more relevant details. Thanks to everyone for that.