Tactile_paving=* on highway=steps?

Triggered by this StreetComplete quest suggestion: [Quest] Do these steps have tactile paving at the top and bottom? · Issue #3534 · streetcomplete/StreetComplete · GitHub

I was wondering how people would prefer to tag tactile paving which is often present at bottom and top of the highway=steps (pictures in link above)?

It seems to me tactile_paving=* would be best added at a start and end node of that highway=steps way (i.e. similar to how it is mapped on kerb=* for crossings) as it is most precise, but there seems to be some 28k+ uses (according to highway=steps | Tags | OpenStreetMap Taginfo)
of marking tactile_paving=* at the highway=steps way itself.

I can se how that would be easier, but seems somewhat incorrect (as the tactile paving does not follow that way, as it often does highway=footway).

So, which people prefer?

(Note: It’s also being discussed at tagging ML and wiki Talk page)

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After giving this a short thought I’d rather we tag it at the nodes enclosing the steps since it’s closer to reality but given the tagging already in use I guess a quick decision including a change in StreetComplete would be necessary

Please note that the wiki page for tactile_paving=* already mentions since 13 years with only minor changes to the wording since that this tag can be added to highway=steps to denote tactile paving on these…

[…] even if there is only a spot with tactile paving at each end. The stairs themselves are sufficient tactile objects to detect with a white cane.

There is no mention of that tactile_paving=* could (instead/also) be tagged on the start/end nodes of that way. (And I do think that this would be problematic, see note 1.)

So, the real question is not whether to tag it at all on ways but whether tactile paving at the top of the stairs only would be sufficient to tag it with yes or not. The reasoning being that only at the top of the stairs, there is danger of falling.

Note 1:
tactile_paving=* on start and end nodes of steps would be problematic. This tag would then not be added to any feature, i.e. it is likely the only tag on that node. This would be difficult to process both for data consumers and difficult to represent with editor presets (like iD, JOSM): Without a feature it is attached to, tactile_paving=* does not really have any meaning. In all current cases, tactile_paving=* is always attached to a feature.
To be consistent with the other uses, it would be necessary to invent a feature like highway=start_of_steps tagged on such nodes. But this would be kind of ridiculous.


And my opinion on this is: No, in such a case it should still be tactile_paving=no (or incorrect, partial,…) . Because:

While tactile paving at the top of the stairs may be more important for safety, tactile paving not only exists for safety but also for orientation. Thus, tactile paving at the bottom of the steps is also important, for discovery. E.g. when steps branch off orthogonally from a footway, one would expect kind of a T-shaped tactile paving so that the blind may know when to turn.

Also, it has been documented that way since 13 years, so it would not be good to deviate from this now unless it wouldn’t make sense. But it does make sense.

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I have yet to see tactile paving ON stairs, and believe me, I’ve seen a lot. Technically speaking you could add that tag to any way, to clarify that blind people are guided along that way.
Since it’s mostly used on crossings, meaning: there is a tactile paving on both sides of the crossing, it does make sense to use this tag on stairs as well to indicate that there is tactile paving to guide to either end of the stairs. But, as pointed out already, most of the time, they are only at the top of the stairs, because they aren’t required at the bottom. Just saying “partial” would not have much meaning to blind people, so for crossings, I’ve already used “left” and “right” if the tactile paving was only on that side. So instead of just saying “partial”, may I suggest top/bottom for the location, or up/down for the direction?

Partial, to me, means rather a partial paving, so warning only and no direction paving, for example.

Maybe the idea could be implemented :
highway=steps + level=top / bottom
and between highway=stair_landing

I would use tactile_paving=step_edge. The value is concise and makes it clear the tactile surface is ay the edge of each step.

Proposed features/detailed tactile paving - OpenStreetMap Wiki has been drafted by someone.

There’s never tactile paving on the steps themselves, because it would be completely unneeded. If we’re talking about very long “stairs” with several meters to walk between each step, you might want to map each step separately if they have tactile paving.

The only remaining question is: what to use if there’s tactile paving on only one end of the stairs?

  • tactile_paving=no
  • tactile_paving=partial
  • tactile_paving=up/down
  • tactile_paving=top/bottom
  • Use micromapping according to a new proposal that’s not been voted on.
  • Add tactile_paving=yes to the highway=* that leads to/from the stairs and has tactile paving

My personal vote is: top/bottom. It doesn’t answer whether the way leading to/from the stairs has tactile paving as well, but that’s neither the case for using it on highway=crossing. For this, you’d have to add it on the highway=* itself.

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If I have chose from the existing values. I would go with “partial” because only part of the step has a detectable edge. Otherwise I’d pick “down” because the edge becomes useful when decending the stairs.

tactile_paving=top if anything

tactile_paving=down for marking only on top of stairs is going to be horribly confusing

So, my taking from this (for current situation, i.e. unless someone wishes to come up with new proposal):

  • tactile_paving=* should be marked on highway=steps way itself (and not on end nodes), and it is to be assumed that paving is only at top/bottom (and does not follow along the whole length of the steps, as that apparently doesn’t happen in real life)
  • if the tactile paving is only present on one side of the steps (most usually top of the steps, as it is the version that makes sense), it should be marked as tactile_paving=partial instead of tactile_paving=yes (which would be used if paving is present on both sides), and data consumer is to infer that.
  • in addition / alternatively, tactile_paving=incorrect might be used if tactile paving is only marked at the bottom (i.e. as wiki says “Where tactile paving is used but not in a sensible way”)

Would that make sense?

Let me take a moment to explain, briefly, how tactile paving works,

This is a warning ripple. The purpose is to alert a blind person of something. You can find these usually on street crossings where the sidewalk is on level with the street, so blind people have a hard time detecting them. They can also be on top of stairs.

This is a directional block (or rather several of them). The purpose is to lead to/away from something. You would typically tag these on the way where they are, so the ways leading to / away from the stairs. Most of the time, they lead to/from a warning ripple, so blind people are guided to / away from something.

I’ve worked with blind people extensively 25 years ago. To them, just having a warning ripple on the top of some stairs would be considered having tactile paving, because you typically don’t put them at the bottom.

So, personally, I wouldn’t tag tactile paving only on the top of the stairs as partial or even incorrect, if the only intention is to warn people about the danger of stairs ahead. Strictly speaking, only the warning ripples should be tagged on the stairs, the guiding lines should go to the way leading to/from the stairs.

If the blue area on this pic were steps (it’s a ramp, I couldn’t find outdoor steps), then I would tag it like this:

In Germany, I think public builders agreed that when new public stairs are built (e.g. also at train stations), it is appropriate that a warning ripple should ideally be laid at the top and at the bottom of the stairs.

(but this may be dufferent in other countries).

The laying systems for tactile paving are very different and inconsistent here in Germany by the way, because unfortunately, some builders do not have the knowledge of @Nadjita (or even any knowledge at all about this topic??) :joy:

Sometimes there are direction blocks at the top or bottom of stairs, but no warning ripples at all. But rhe fact that there is some tactile_paving would also be sufficient to tag tactile_paving=yes there.

The norm says:

In English: Up until now, you put a warning ripple at the bottom of the stairs only if a guiding line ended there. The newer version also says that these warning ripples must be placed 60cm away from the bottom of the stairs, because they can reduce the visual contrast between the last step and the floor.

I guess the reason for assuming that they must exist on top and bottom now, is that the new norm also says that tactile paving leading to stairs must be used in public places wherever possible.

So, the interpretation is that tacticle_paving=yes on a highway=* means “there is directional blocks along this way”, unless it’s steps, in which case it means that there’s a warning ripple ahead of the top of the stairs?

Which of the two would be correct to assume for a highway=footway representing a ramp (which doesn’t have its own highway type)?

That’s my interpretation, yes.

The wiki says to use tactile_paving=* on a highway=footway “when there is a line all the way on the footway”, which would include a ramp.

Generally, warning blocks are mapped as nodes, and guiding lines are mapped as ways. Except for the stairs.

This thread is evolving to be very educational. Thank you all for your ongoing contributions :+1:t2::blush:

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