Rendering highway=path on opencyclemap

Hello everybody,

It seems that the tag highway=footway is rendered by a red doted line in open cycle map although the definition of that tag is “For designated footpaths; i.e., mainly/exclusively for pedestrians.”

At the opposite, the tag highway=path (whose definition is “A non-specific or shared-use path”) should also logically be rendered on OCM since by saying it is shared-used, it means that bikes are allowed by default. But it isn’t rendered at all in OCM.

One could say that I just have to use the tag “footway” instead of “path” in order to have it rendered on OCM. That could be a partial solution. However, all the paths that other users have already defined in OSM would not appear, which is something probably not satisfying all moutain bike users, which would be glad to see paths appearing on the map.

What is your opinion on this question?

If the others/germans have used “path” too much, in cases where a footway or cycleway is appropriate (combined with suitable =designated or =yes), they should change their guidelines and follow what the rest of the world is doing. Footway and cycleway were not deprecated (when path was introduced) and should be used whenever they are suitable.

alv, I’m sorry but I don’t see how your comments are relevant to what the OP wrote. The OP (who is French, btw, not German) quoted the English version of the definition of path and footway, which perfectly match the German ones. He never implied that footway or cycleway were deprecated.

I, too, would appreciate it if highway=path was rendered in OCM, for exactly the same reason as the OP: when I’m riding my mountainbike, paths (e.g. in the forest) are what I’m looking for, not footways which I’m probably not allowed to use anyway.

Do you tag “biking allowed, but take it really easy” in some special way?

oudalricus - you have misunderstood. highway=footway does not expressly mean “pavement”, or “sidewalk”, or “tarmaced route between houses”. It simply means "a route whose principal purpose is for walkers. A path in the forest should be tagged as highway=footway and thousands already are. alv is right.

Why should it? What if the path in the forest is equally used by walkers, cyclists and horses, but not built or signed specifically for any of them?
What about a path in the forest, built by / for mountain bikers, but not ‘officially’ a cycleway?


I honestly don’t know what all the fuss is about. I don’t think there ever will be one tagging scheme to rule them all. But to demonstrate that it’s not totally unreasonable to use highway=path as some of you seem to suggest:

The wiki says about footways:

Which, to me, does not seem to apply to trails in the forest without any designation. I had a look at and the kind of trail I have in mind is always tagged with highway=path there (third and fourth example). In the description of the third example, it says

The recommended tag is, as I said, highway=path, so that’s what I use for that kind of track. Reasonable enough?

Bridleway might be an alternative, but horseback riding is a much less common pastime in my country than it is in the UK. Why would I tag a path as a bridleway that’s probably never been used by a horse? There /are/ designated bridleways too, but very few. When I come across one, I tag it as a bridleway, of course.

But no matter what I or anybody else thinks such trails/paths should be tagged as, it’s a simple fact that highway=path has been used extensively in certain areas, and it’s the kind of thing that you would expect to see on a cycling map, at least if you’re riding an MTB. So why not render it? What’s the harm?

emj, I don’t understand your comment.

But a bridleway is a right of way. What if the path is not a right of way, and has no ‘official’ status, but it is there on the ground?

It’s long been my contention that we use the broad-brush highway tags - from trunk down to footway - to indicate the “purpose” of a way. So if it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, etc. etc., you tag it as a duck, even if it isn’t officially a member of the species duckus duckus. (Someone smarter than me can correct the Latin.)

Similarly if something is to all extents a bridleway, then I tag it as such. A good example of this in the UK is the “restricted byway”. This is a particular type of right-of-way for which there’s no directly suitable OSM tag. Ones that are of a reasonably low quality, I’ll tag as highway=bridleway;designation=restricted_byway. Better ones, I usually tag as highway=track;designation=restricted_byway. I’ll sometimes add tagging such as “bicycle:hybrid=difficult;bicycle:tourer=impassable” for a bit more detail.

oudalricus - you’re entitled to your own preferences, of course! But the wiki doesn’t have any magic force. Some people like to use it as a reference for tagging, others (like me) prefer Tagwatch and editor presets. I’ve seen too many misguide edits on the wiki to trust it at all, I’m afraid.

Similarly, Andy (creator of the cycle map), is entitled to his own preferences and - I believe, you can ask him on the mailing list if you like - doesn’t see the need for highway=path, so chooses not to render it.

I did a little more reading, and it seems that bridleway really isn’t an appropriate tag for paths outside of the UK. The legal situation in England and Wales, as far as I understand it, is: On a bridleway (which is a right of way, as Vclaw pointed out) you can ride a horse, walk, and (usually) ride a bike. In Germany (and, I suspect, in many other countries) the situation is totally different: on designated bridleways, you are /only/ allowed to go on horseback. You’re not even allowed to walk there. So tagging paths as bridleways would make no sense at all, particularly on a cycle map.

And in case this isn’t clear, designated footpaths in Germany can only be used on foot, unless there is a sign saying otherwise. Exceptions can be tagged in OSM with bicycle=yes, but these are not rendered in OCM.

Tracks and paths without any designation, however, can be used by everything (cars, motorbikes, cycles, horses) unless explicitly forbidden.

So if I followed the suggestions of some of the posters here and tagged paths as either footway or bridleway, the law-abiding German cyclist would not use them, thinking he isn’t allowed to – while in reality, it would be perfectly legal to use them. Don’t you think this would be misleading?

Even though I use highway=footway…, the highway=path tag seems like something that fits the situation in Sweden. The arguments for Footway/cycleway (and bridleway!?) aren’t that good…

oudalricus: 80% of the highway=footways in sweden can be traversed both by bike and by foot.

I think that due to different meaning of “footway” and “bridleway” in different countries’ context, some differences will always remain. It’s not very wise to expect people just coming to OSM to draw maps according to conventions (which are not even set at the moment) more than their common sense.

If I was the one to decide once and for all, how those should be tagged, I’d use “footways”, “bridleways” and “cycleways” only when this is the sole purpose of the way. There would be no questions whether that way can be used for a different purpose. The path tag allows us to set …=yes if needed.

In reality, there will be mess in that matter, regardless of the convention we choose.
The best thing we coan is to do as Richard says - ask Andy on the mailing list to change his rendering rules to include other tags.

One tag combination which (I think everyone would agree) should be rendered:
highway=… , bicycle=yes (especially highway=path)

I don’t see a reason why highway=path alone shouldn’t be rendered.

Depending on the convention in that region, it might also be: highway=bridleway and highway=footway (probably too much to ask).

I’ve also noticed highway=road isn’t rendered. I have mistakenly started another thread about that:

I think highway=road isn’t rendered because it’s supposed to be used for ways derived through aerial mapping, or other such sources, where little detail can be added. Until the road is properly surveyed, and named, it’s left as highway=road.!_Aerial_Imagery#How_to_sketch.3F

I’ve begun to use highway=path sometimes, especially in circumstances where there is no official status but there is usage of the path. I feel it’s important to be able to query the database for highway=footway within a bounding box and get back a list of officially recognised footpaths in that area, but it’s equally important that OSM represents the situation on the ground. I think highway=path fits those situations well.

Thanks for sharing your view on that. Now I realized that there is no strict distinction between the official status and the actual usage on OSM yet. This could be done by making routes to describe the official status, but I don’t know if it’s going to be the preferred solution in the future.

Unfortunately, if this is not going to be done, then there will be the same problem - some people will use highway=path if they don’t know the status, but know the usage, and some will use highway=road, surface=paved or similar (like I did).

Both options should be rendered then, I guess… at least until the widespread usage of routes instead of highway=secondary, highway=tertiary etc.

Routes relations won’t solve the issue, highway=path is fine for paths with no right of way and with no permission IMHO.
I don’t think that highway=road should be rendered.

The problem is, roads with right of way, but their status unknown. These should be rendered. Currently, I don’t see anything else than highway=road for these.
If routes were used for the official status, then we could put usage information into highway=…

Ah I see the problem. I’ve run into it myself several times. I usually tag the road as unclassified and leave a fixme tag with “resurvey”.

I guess that rendering those ways should depend on whether they’re usually suitable for biking or not. I’m going to try to talk about it on the OCM list then.

EDIT: could anyone please tell me where an appropriate list is located?

rhn, thanks for taking care of this. I couldn’t find an OCM list either. Maybe somebody could contact Andy directly. His mail address can be found at I can do it when I find the time to write up a nice e-mail. If anybody is quicker than me (rhn?), maybe he or she could post a quick notice here to make sure that Andy doesn’t get multiple mails with the same request.