Mapping pier and quay

Dear all,

I am teaching about maritime features…

I found a tag “man_made=quay”, but I am confused about this application in OSM mapping…

Because there are a lot of features tagged as man_made=pier (taginfo, more than 634.000), including the “paralel to the coast” structures…

And I saw that this tag man_made=quay is less used (taginfo near 5.000 cases…) . And this tag (quay) status is “in use” and not “approved”…

And Wiki says this tag (quay) is for a structure that is designed to allow vessels of some size to moor alongside it… and for loading or unloading… in a waterway…

So, I don’t know if I have to use quay or pier in the cases of only passengers boat…paralel to the coast.

And what we have to prioritize? A tag that is very frequently used or a tag that is less used but seams to be more adequate?

Are there differences for passengers or products being loading or unloading? It means man_made=pier for passengers’ boarding and man_made=quay for load/unload charges?

Or the difference is if the structure is on the land (quay) or over the sea (pier) (both paralel to the coast)?

Thanks a lot.

We use man_made=pier for both piers and jetties as well as the type of floating structures you can walk on and tie boats up to commonly called “floating docks” in some parts of the world. It is commonly used for any wooden deck you can tie boats to as well as similar structures made of other materials (not sure if it was really intended for ones that run along rather than away from the shore, but it happens). In OSM dock refers exclusively to areas that are (at least sometimes) covered in water and where there is (some) control over the level of water over the bottom.

The man_made=quay tag is used for the edges (and sometimes areas) of land that are constructed to allow boats or ships to tie up alongside. They are usually some sort of retaining wall with a strengthened set down area for cargo, although exact construction varies considerably depending on age, size of vessel expected and whether there has been an attempt to reflect more traditional construction methods and appearance.

My general rule of thumb is that if something could swim or walk under it, it’s a pier, if it would need a jackhammer its a quay. This is a crowdsourced project where most of the contributors are hobbyists, the lines between features can get a little blurred at times.


Thank you very much, it’s clear to me now!

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Can I ask: According to the wiki description of how to map tag:man_made=quay one should “trace a way along the water’s edge (defined by natural=water or natural=coastline) making sure the new way is connected to it”.

Does ‘along’ mean ‘on top of’ (since the quay is the coastline)? Or should ‘man_made=quay’ simply be added to the appropriate section of ‘natural=coastline’?

I think you can do either. If you’re mapping as an area it will need to either be a closed loop that shares nodes with the water’s edge for a while (or a multipolygon). If you’re just mapping it on the edge then you can add it to the relevant bit of coastline or waterline (if the water’s a multipolygon). I think you can do a way that traces a short bit of another way without branching from it, but it can be a bit of a pain to edit so I would tend to split the way unless that makes something else more complicated.