Pedestrian traffic signals, rotating cones

I will, at some point, add some pedestrian traffic signals to my locality (it’s a one-horse town with three sets of pedestrian traffic signals).

I’m in the UK. These signals are of the type we call “Pelican” crossings, see Lights to indicate what traffic and pedestrians should do, obviously enough. Control button for the pedestrians (for which button_operated is the correct tag). On many (but not all) there’s a beeping sound (for which traffic_signals:sound is the correct tag).

Possibly peculiar to the UK is that some of them have a tactile rotating cone on the underside. See for description and pictures.

The tag traffic_signals:vibration isn’t really correct for the rotating cone, because some Pelican crossings do have a vibrating button (I’ve never encountered one, but Wikipedia claims they exist). The rotating cone isn’t a vibrating button, so it would be misleading to mark it as such: “According to the map, the button will vibrate when it’s safe to cross, now off you go and don’t cross until you feel the button vibrate.” would be bad advice to give somebody. BTW, the images accompanying the wiki article for traffic_signals:vibration are actually for traffic_signals:arrow and serve to confuse matters.

So it appears a new attribute is required. Since I’m fairly new at this, some guidance on what to do next would be appreciated.

BTW, it might be an idea to consider how to handle toucan (pedestrians and bicycles, see and pegasus (pedestrians and ridden horses, see crossings. Doesn’t make any difference to me because there aren’t any around here, but it might help others in the future.

The zebra/pelican/toucan/pegasus, and even tiger, distinction is already covered:

Thanks for letting me know about toucan/puffin/tiger. I didn’t come across that in my searches of the wiki. Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in a maze of wiki entries, all alike.

However, that stuff was a bit of an aside. The main question is what to do about rotating cones?

Looks like this is what you want:

The OP is explicitly rejecting that one on the basis that it would confuse end users.

Ummm, nope. Already seen it. Already dismissed it.

That’s a vibrating button on the face of the control box, which is pushed to request a crossing. What I’m talking about is separate from the request button, is on the underside of the unit, and rotates. See

One of the aims of these tags is for the visually-impaired to go through a reader and get spoken instructions, or at least extra detail. If the map tells you the button vibrates, you’re going to be waiting with your finger on it for a long time for it to do so if the crossing actually has a rotating cone.

I think it would be doing the visually-impaired a disservice to indicate that there’s a vibrating button when there’s actually a rotating cone, and vice versa. If the attribute had been “tactile” rather than “vibration” then I’d agree it could be used both for vibrating button and rotating cone, but I’d also have argued that “tactile” should be changed to make a distinction between them. But at least with “tactile” they could be told what the standard type is in that locality.

Perhaps it’s a little pedantic of me, but I like to draw useful distinctions. Otherwise we could replace every object on the map with “stuff.” There’s stuff here, and some more stuff there, and a little bit of stuff in the other place…

I think you are being far too picky. The tag indicates that there is some kind of tactile feedback indicating when a person can cross. It does not say how. You could add further tags to be more explicit, e.g., along the lines of wheelchair:description.

Almost certainly the tag was created by German mappers to meet the known situation of tactile feedback at lit-crossings in Germany. Mappers across the world have to live with UK-centric notions such as highway=unclassified and have managed to adapt them to the local situation. I’d agree that tactile would be a better choice of tag, but that’s not necessarily how OSM works.

Demanding tags for every variation of tactile feedback across the world just ensures that no tag is used consistently enough for any piece of software to use it. It is much more important to focus on step-by-step refinement, the phrase “perfect is the enemy of the good” is often used within OSM.

In my view the tag does the job of saying that there is some kind of tactile feedback corresponding to a green man. The first improvement would be to probably add images and text describing the UK ‘rotating-cone’ to that wiki page, and in the meantime contact people such as Lulu-Ann who are behind LoroDux and have been working in the area for years.

Am I being too picky? Maybe.

You’re right, if it had said “tactile” rather than “vibration” I’d probably have gone with it. But it doesn’t. Rotation isn’t vibration (insert your own rude joke here) and a button isn’t a cone. Also, the raised arrow underneath some control boxes is a tactile indication, but that has its own attribute.

Yes, the Wiki could be amended so that vibration doesn’t just mean vibrating button but also rotating cone. That codifies using a misleading attribute in a tag. I’m not entirely happy with that as a solution. It’s always a lot cleaner if UIs are self-explanatory. I intensely dislike FAQs for UIs, they should be intuitive and need only Infrequently Asked Questions to be answered elsewhere.

The internationalization argument doesn’t quite cut it for me. Yeah, we have different words for the same concept, so a German mapper having to use an English word for the same concept is undesirable but the a lot of i18n effort would be required in rejigging editors to fix it. But here you’re talking about using the same word for different, but related, concepts. On those grounds, we should just use “crossing” to refer to zebra crossings, light-controlled crossings, kerb bump-outs etc. and not qualify them at all. We find it useful to distinguish them. It’s good to know there’s any kind of crossing there and it’s even better to know what kind it is.

I’m not convinced by your arguments. That’s not to say that I can’t be convinced, just that your arguments so far don’t do it. And yes, if a decree is handed down from on high then I’ll have to be satisfied with that decree. But it appears that you’re not replying from Mt Olympus…

The rotating cone is quite different to many other crossing aids and should have it’s own entry
tactile_rotating_cone=yes/no on this page
I would use one of the images and a link from the manufacturer
If you document it more people will learn about it and standardise the tags used.

Perhaps the tactile_rotating_cone could also be mentioned on and ? As well as in the “Typical Combinations” section of

I agree. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

Ummm, that doesn’t quite fit in with the other traffic signals stuff Of course, I’m unfamiliar with the syntactic and semantic conventions, but given the existence of traffic_signals:vibration=yes/no, traffic_signals:sound=yes/no, traffic_signals:arrow=yes/no and traffic_signals:minimap=yes/no, then the logical (to me) syntax would be traffic_signals:rotating_cone=yes/no. Especially as I can’t find a general tactile key, just a tactilve_paving key. But I’m open to persuasion. I’m pretty new at this, so I don’t want to come up with something that 99% of people are going to say was a stupid idea.

I was kinda hoping somebody with more status points would do that. But if it falls to me I’ll use my phone to take a picture of one to avoid any copyright issues. Even if somebody with more status points updates the wiki I’d be happy to provide a copyright-free photo.