Routing in car free zones inside city centers

Hi Everyone,

We would like to make some adjustment to the map regarding car free zones.
To start we would like to do some changes to the city of Ghent, followed by other cities with same situation.

In Ghent city center (car free zone), all roads are tagged as vehicle:no while in reality lots of roads you can drive through if you have the correct permit. F.e.: inhabitants, delivery companies, …
More information about that can be found here: Circulatieplan Gent | Stad Gent and here regarding permits.

For this reason we think some of those roads should be changed to vehicle:permit. This will also allow us to use this data further to do better optimisations in city centers.

An example is the ‘Recollettenbrug’ which is clearly indicated with traffic signs that you need a permit to cross this zone but is currently tagged with vehicle:no. (Way: ‪Recollettenbrug‬ (‪156842343‬) | OpenStreetMap)

I already had a meeting with Seppe Santens and Pieter Vander Vennet from the community who support out thoughts and adjustment question. But off course we want everyone to be able to give his/her opinion on the matter before we move forward and do the changes.

Im looking forward to any feedback.

Kind regards
Anthony Viaene


According to Tag:access=permit - OpenStreetMap Wiki, vehicle=permit was intended for cases where a permit is routinely granted to everyone requesting it. The example shows a nature preserve where you can call a number to get a permit.

In Ghent, would the following be applicable? “[A] permit is rarely granted, or only granted in exceptional circumstances, or […] obtaining it is complex or there is a long waitlist.” If so, the wiki page discourages vehicle=permit.

(By the way, key-value tags are normally written with =. : is often used inside keys, such as vehicle:conditional.)

Agreed. If it is not routinely granted, than that would instead be access=private

The access=private tag is indicating that the object is not to be used by the general public. Access is only with permission on an individual basis.

If one needs to more specifically note to whom such access might be granted, there is additional tag private=* (e.g. private=residents if it is only granted to people living in those buildings accessed by that street etc.)

For routing purposes, I think it’s important to be able to pinpoint the roads that require this special permit. Say, if there’s a single permit for all these points, you’d like to be able to refer to all of them at once. If you need a separate permit for separate points/streets, maybe some reference number is used?
vehicle=private + private=permit (or perhaps the lesser used permit_holder to reduce possible confusion) is undocumented but could work, perhaps with extra clarification. Or even better, just write a proposal to add permit_holder as a main access value that is distinguished from the existing permit value.

It was @Mateusz_Konieczny who added that entry to the Wiki back in 2020, but I believe he just selected an unfortunate wording, and that access=permit is exactly intended for the purpose at hand. “Routinely granted” was apparently meant “to anyone who submits appropriate paperwork”, not “any random Joe”. Mateusz himself sort of confirms that in his talk page comment:

“municipality-owned road that the general public is not allowed to use, but for which the municipality grants permission in exceptional cases” - yes, that would fit. But remember about pedestrian and cyclists! […]
I recommend consulting with you local community - there are often multiple ways to tag the same thing and there may be local preference for one of them, there may be also some local legal peculiarities (for example, in some countries cyclists and horses are legally considered as vehicles - and in some not)
Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 22:19, 28 December 2020 (UTC)

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To be honest, I think we should revise the definition of ‘access=permit’.

I object specifically to the sentence: “where a permit is routinely granted to everyone requesting it”. I’d rather state this as ‘if there is an official way to request a permit’


For planning a trip, it makes a big difference if asking a permit is just a formality, or if you need to fulfill specific conditions. The latter is semantically closer to “private” for most end users.

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But we should also take into account those users which are not ‘most’ end users, for example delivery drivers which might request those permits. For them it is important to distinguish between ‘I might get a permit’ or ‘it’s not possible to get a permit for this’ - exactly the question of Anthony.

TBH, I do think that the tagging scheme is insufficient for the current use and should be reconsidered. Alternatively, a motor_vehicle=no´, motor_vehicle:concational = yes @ ( some specific conditons)` might be appropriate here

Sure, I just want to stress that we shouldn’t make it so that a normal user cannot distinguish between permits-as-a-formality and permits-for-specific-groups.

The semantics of access=permit are not clear if you haven’t read its wiki page, which is not ideal. (It reminds me of permissive, designated and unclassified.) To fix that, we’d need to deprecate it and choose new tags, which can introduce more nuanced permit details.

Do you envision for the specific conditions to be more than permit_holder? Expressing who could get a permit?

As suggested by @Matija_Nalis , another solution would be introducing a new value for private=*.

I don’t think so. Context:

So Mateusz was saying that access=private, or even (motor_)vehicle=private would fit for these roads. access=permit was not part of that debate.

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From what I remember it was discussed/proposed at mailing list around that time.

And =permit as acces value is Skunked term - Wikipedia

I have seen it used where it was rather =private (“only lot owners”) and where =permissive would be ideal.

Right now it is used everywhere where either permit is required with routinely granted permit, or entry is permitted, or permit is basically impossible to obtain…

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At least, ignoring the discussion on permissive etc. you have to change vehicle by motor_vehicle to allow unlimited access to bicycles and do not forget to map correctly for mofa and moped (I do not know exactly the difference between mofa’s Klasse A and B.

The ways are already tagged with bicycle=yes, mofa=yes (A), speed_pedelec=yes (P). Mopeds (B) need a permit too.

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Good to know, couldn’t find that in the discussion! :slight_smile:

Please no. Changing the definition of tags after they are in use is enormous effort, of which updating the wiki (and even reaching consensus) is just a tiny part.

I object specifically to the sentence: “where a permit is routinely granted to everyone requesting it”. I’d rather state this as ‘if there is an official way to request a permit’

If current value permit is likely to lead to mistagging by people who do not consult the wiki before they start using the tag, then perhaps it should be deprecated, and separate replacements invented like permit_restricted (i.e. permit that is restricted and may only be issued to some people) and permit_anyone (current meaning of permit, i.e. permit which is routinely issued to anyone that asks).

(of course better names would be welcome, if someone is interested in starting such proposal process)


Agreed. However, we cannot expect everyone to read the wiki about a specific value for any tag they ever use. Probably, many more people just see ‘permit’ in the editor and/or consult the Key:access page - hence part of the confusion.

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I would rather introduce new value that has more clear meaning.

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Once a consensus is reached, and proposal is agreed to (by voting), and wiki updated, the issues can be opened for editors (and other data consumers) to offer new values instead of now-deprecated ones, and even warn about existing deprecated values and offer replacements.

So while updating the editors to not offer confusing values is the final result one wants, prerequisite for that is that there is a discussion and consensus about new values (and all work related to that; as noted above).

Why would permit need to be deprecated? As far as I can see the value is typically used for a range of situations where you do in fact need a permit. That range is just wider than the Wiki page says…

Wouldn’t it be more practical to introduce a subkey with values such as permit=lottery, permit=fee and permit=residents? The wiki page could then simply be updated to “allow” use of the tag for all situations requiring a permit of any kind.

This would also pave the way for tags such as permit:description, permit:website, permit:phone, permit:name or permit:ref, if necessary with made-up values such as permit:ref=gent_autovrij_gebied. If a specific tag is on all of these roads and not on any other roads, then that a sophisticated router would know which roads you can use if you have that permit.

See also
Search results | OpenStreetMap Taginfo, some of these are already in existence though undocumented.

Also, to the Belgians: I hope you don’t mind us all chipping in (no pun intended) in your local community discussion! Discourse encourages this somewhat, by showing country community discussions to everyone under suggested topics.

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Because it is used for both “everyone is automatically permitted” and “you need to apply for permit and you will get it” and “you need to be approved to visit military base to get permit”

foot=permit motor_vehicle=permit with different permit situation would be not taggable

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