Tagging cycle paths

I’m confused about tagging cycle paths and the different ways of tagging them!

The National Cycle Network tagging in York here http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=53.94875&lon=-1.07688&zoom=15&layers=00B0FTF seems muddled as the routes to the NCN 66 (but not the 66 itself) have been tagged as a national cycle routes in their own right (as (66)), as per the signs on the ground.

The actual paths on the ground are paved paths divided into a pedestrian half and a cycle half.

Would these be better as local cycle routes (lcn=yes) as they don’t have a number in their own right and are just a way of getting to the 66?

Does the fact that there are signposts make it an LCN rather than just an “ordinary” cycle path, or does something become an LCN only when it has a number?

They are tagged as highway=cycleway foot=yes. Is this the same as highway=footway bicycle=yes? Or does the fact they are half and half make them different again?

South of this point, around the racecourse and towards Bishopthorpe, the NCN65 follows what is an undivided, paved track through the fields.

At the moment the path is tagged as

but an alternative could be
surface=paved or tracktype=grade 1 (or both? The mapping features wiki isn’t clear)
bicycle=yes (or would being part of the NCN65 imply this?)

Which is best or doesn’t it matter?

Personally I’d be tempted to tag the links with ncn=link, ncn_ref=(66) - or the equivalent with relations.

LCN tagging in OSM is, however, a mess. Best practice IMO is to use it for routes signposted to somewhere.

For “paved paths divided into a pedestrian half and a cycle half”, I’d use highway=cycleway, segregated=yes, surface=asphalt. For the undivided path, highway=cycleway, surface=asphalt. You don’t need to tag foot=yes, highway=cycleway implies that.

The defintion of highway=track says “Roads for agricultural use, gravel roads in the forest etc”. So if it appears to be used by farm tractors etc, I’d tag it as a track.
If its only used by pedestrians / cyclists / horses, or not wide enough to fit a car / tractor etc along, then I’d tag it as a cycleway (or a footway / path etc).
And if its a track, I’d say its worth using surface and tracktype tags, just to make it clear. Though I suppose tracktype=grade1 probably implies surface=paved.
Also worth using bicycle=yes, just to make it clear. Its also helpful for routing software, which may not check all of the route relations.

Well it’s not a track in the sense of an agricultural road (although there’s a sign that says beware of tractors) and I think highway=footway (“includes walking tracks”) probably fits best.

You can see it here.


But I’m beginning to think it’s tagged just fine as it is!!

I didn’t know about ncn=link. Does that render differently?

I don’t think so, no. I think the only one that renders differently on OCM is ‘proposed’. But don’t let that stop you!

An update, if anyone’s interested.

The signs on the ground are muddled which probably accounts for the confusion on the map. Is this common? The route that is labelled as (66) on opencyclemap would seem to be the 66 itself, and not “the 66 is over there” at all. The blue “local” signposts all show something like “University (66)” but the stick on labels on posts etc all show the 66 without brackets.

The fact that there’s a milepost on this track suggests it’s the “real” 66 as well.

OCM currently shows the 66 heading west along a disused railway and then turning north, but this appears to be incorrect, it does actually head south to the Uni to join the “(66)” and ultimately the 65 just south of the centre. The disused railway is a local track into York, but there is one (only) “stray” 66 stick-on sign on this path too!

What a mess!

I’ve checked on the Sustrans map and it is clear where the 66 goes so I will put it all right as I’ve cycled it and have confirmed the route.


Sustrans is attempting to bring some order to NCN numbering by renumbering “braids” and Regional Routes as (usually three-digit) National Routes. But there’s still quite a lot of places where the numbering is confused. Your local Rangers may be able to supply enlightenment.