Is it allowed to add custom namespace/tags for specific project?

I read the wiki pages about the tags and good practices, but still haven’t understood if adding custom tags is allowed. We are working on mapping the cycle network for a region in Switzerland. The authorities would like to promote some roads but it is not possible based on the current tags. Some unpaved ways need to be included but not all and the quality of the road cannot be used as criterion. Is it allowed to add custom tags in a specific namespace like bern_mobility_map: cycle-only on some elements of OSM?


It is not specifically forbidden, but I would consult with the Swiss community before doing so. In general we try to stick as close as possible to established tagging schemes in order to be able to evaluate the data and get the most out of it for everybody.

As a hint: surface=unpaved / paved is unspecific and should be specified where ever possible.

For cycle routes we have an established mapping scheme (those are mapped as relations, leaving the ways themselves untouched).


cycle-only reads like an access restriction? In this case you should use standard access tags. We also generally require that tags be verifiable on the ground, is there signage?
Have you seen the tagging regarding cycle networks?

No, cycle-only reads like an inclusive tag to add a road that would not meet our own criterions otherwise. For example, let’s say we filter all highway=path but only if surface=asphalt or surface=fine_gravel, but there is one particular road that we want to add in our map even if it is defined as surface=unpaved. We do not want to change the surface of this road since this is correctly set, but still want to add this particular road in our cycle network.

smoothness=* may help ?

It can provide information about the type of bicycle that can safely use this path even.


Adding tags to mark way as something that you want to render on specific map is not OK.

You can store this info elsewhere (either via location/geometry matches or by identifying specific way ids - first will be complex, second fragile).

You could add this if that road would be somehow marked (trail/signs etc), but if it is just for specific map display then such tags are not OK.

In general, you can contact specific local community, see Contact channels - OpenStreetMap Wiki (treat their answer as more important that what appears here)


I agree with Mateusz then, this type of tag is not ok, and it does not seem to be verifiable, or what is the criterion for adding some roads with unsuitable surfaces but other not?
Usually for routing, you will not need this kind of information, the router should find the best way based on objective criteria like road type, surface, smoothness, speed limits etc.

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I would say “all routers”… not a specific one that uses custom tags.

If these path are ok for cycling, there’s enough tags in OSM to describe that correctly… or we miss something in the explanation.

Thanks for all your answers. They confirmed what I thought and we will proceed without such tags, probably through a list of way ids to add or remove first.

Hi @Yeah_yo_mex, I think what you might find helpful is mapping cycle routes. In your OP you are talking about a regional cycle network. If that is an “official”/signed network you can map it in OSM by all means. Check out the link above.

Once you have mapped the routes you can use them to highlight roads and paths on your map using that information.


yes, if it is something signed (cycle route or something) then it can be mapped

(though not with such tag)

You definitely should have consulted with the Swiss OSM community first, and should still do so (not to mention that your planned activity likely falls under
Organised Editing Guidelines - OpenStreetMap Foundation).

As is you are just begging for things to go awfully wrong. As has been pointed out there are ways to map (signposted) routes/networks, but based on the information you have given it isn’t possible to determine if there is a solution that fits your needs or if your project needs to be adjusted.

Thanks to @highflyer74, no thanks to all the others.

what was wrong with my reply?

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