Thailand - Highway classification wiki revision - paths/footways table

This revision is meant for Thailand’s internal community to confirm whether to roll back to a previous version of Thailand’s wiki to reduce internal issues. Please do not make this a global debate on how paths should be treated for motorcycles, we have done this before. Thank You!

Below is a proposal for the replacement of Thailand’s wiki paths section, with the main goal to prevent the usage of legal access tags to subjectively decide the suitability of a path for a motorcycle and other means.

For background, we had this already available in the wiki before but I personally pushed to use highway=footway and highway=path+motorcycle=yes to differentiate between paths that are suitable for motorcycles vs those that are not.

However, I have learned quickly that this suitability decision is indeed very subjective, and what I thought initially was not suitable for motorcycles was actually used by more skilled riders. Even some of the steepest hiking trails are known to be used by mountain bikers and enduro riders.

Also, this motorcycle=yes tag may have led to the situation that other contributors started to use regularly access tags like foot=yes/no, bicycle=yes/no to indicate the suitability of other activities, another very subjective matter, instead of using the recommended difficulty scale tags (sac_scale for hiking, mtb:scale for mountain biking and dirtbike:scale for enduro riding).

When routing, modern outdoor applications (e.g. Komoot, AllTrails) will complain now that sections are forbidden for your activity and you may have to dismount…

While rendering was cited by a community member as a concern at the time, I found out that most modern outdoor applications will render footway and path anyway the same.

Finally, mountain areas have become a maze of intertwined highway=path and highway=footway which makes the editing process very confusing, imagine for new mappers.

Please let me know if you have any objections or suggestions for edits.

Urban and Local Road that a motor car cannot pass

OSM tag Description, comments
highway=footway Built pathways designed mainly or exclusively for pedestrians access. For example, designated footpaths in urban and attraction areas (hotels, parks, tourist sites…).

If other means are legally allowed, add the corresponding access tags e.g. highway=footway + bicycle=yes

Do not use for hiking trails, use instead highway=path with the appropriate sac_scale difficulty tag.
highway=path Multi-purpose paths intended for all non-motorized vehicles with the exception of motorcycles.

Use instead highway=footway if the path is sign-posted for exclusive or main pedestrians access.

Do not use legal access tags (foot=yes/no, bicycle=yes/no) to indicate the suitability of the path for a specific activity. Instead use the corresponding scale tags (sac_scale for hiking, mtb:scale for mountain biking, dirtbike:scale for enduro riding).

If the path has a sign that certain means are forbidden, add the corresponding access tags. e.g. highway=path + motorcycle=no
highway=path+ motorcycle=designated Dedicated pathway for motorcycles, typically sign-posted and found in urban areas.
Others See highway=*

From personal communication I have learnt that there are many rural regions in Africa and Asia where traffic between settlements is possible only by motorcycle (taxis), but not by 4-wheel (2-track) vehicles.
These are paths previously only used by foot or by animals without any sign or designation for motorcycles, nevertheless now frequently used by them simply because the lack of any broader roads. The usabilty is of course dependent on weather/season, but this is likewise also very often true there even for motorcar roads.

I think motorcycle=designated is not appropriate for these paths.
A motorcycle=yes should instead be given, but only with local knowledge about usage.

I found the emphasis on motorcycle for highway=path quite odd.

I have a basic problem with the use of the highway=path designation and then adding one of the difficulty scales. For safety reasons alone, a path with minimum level of difficulty doesn’t fit the common definition of a “path”.

For difficult paths and other existing highway types I would add a modifier to the existing value to the type. For lack of better word, i picked “advanced”. So for a cycleway with a moderate or higher level of difficulty, I would tag it as highway=advanced_cycleway. Making obvious that the trail is not a relatively flat bike lane and that the user should take additional caution by looking for the appropriate difficulty scale to determine the actual difficulty level of the trail. These ways should only be rendered on maps that can expose the extra information. Making sure we have provided ample warning along with the additional information. Whether users follow up is no longer our responsibility.

The exact prefix is not important other than to indicate that this way may require special equipment, experience or knowledge that the normal version doesn’t.

Sorry for the confusion, this revision is meant for Thailand’s internal community to confirm whether to roll back to a previous version of the wiki to reduce internal issues.

I appreciate your opinion, but this is not a topic to debate how ways suitable for motorcycles should be tagged, we have already done this before, and this will continue in an endless discussion that will discourage Thailand’s members to give their consent or objection.

PS: I have removed the topic tags and added a disclaimer.


Just out of curiosity, I had to look, what sac_scale gets applied to, if this tag does not get abused for something, it was never meant to, so ran this in JOSM:

out skel qt;

Looks fine. Seems to get applied to recreational paths, where consumers likely will control for it. Hard to tell any detail though, as the places almost all are under dense wood canopy.

If I may tell - How sac_scale is used here, close to where the term originates - in simple words: hiking means NO difficulties whatsoever, little incline if at all; mountain_hiking means, you have to lift your legs to get over rocks or roots, at least modest incline; demanding_mountain_hiking means, you have to lift your legs a bit more, can become quite steep, have some head for heights, and might have to use a map, to not get lost. Alpine_hiking additionally will very likely contain scrambles, where you have to use hands for progress. Way: 119795603 | OpenStreetMap :slight_smile:

I think it’s all fine.

A little concern. Is this tag only for signposted motorcycle pathway? If so, then

Dedicated (signposted) pathway for motorcycles, typically found in urban areas.

might be better?

1 Like

Looks better than the old table, especially for rural context.

I worry a bit about urban areas. Can you give an example of what would be such a signposted dedicated path for motorcycles?
I do imagine a thing like a dedicated lane or similar. Is this really a path? Especially in urban area and signposted, I imagine it be paved and more like a typical road. Could in such a context fit a highway=service/service=alley + the motorcycle=designated better?

1 Like

here is an example @nitinatsangsit gave me of signposted motorcycle way for under bridge u-turn in Ayutthaya (zoom in the middle):

If the pathway is not wide enough for a standard 4-wheel vehicle, it should be tagged as a path.
There are a few examples of these narrow lanes in Chiang Mai on/under bridges and in the middle of major roads, although these are often not signed posted, hence e.g (zoom in middle)

1 Like

I know this is drifting a bit into a tagging discussion. The area I am unhappy with is explicitly the situation like the two examples above. Not the situation in countryside.

I agree that the underpass/u-turns for motorcycles exist and probably your proposed tagging will work here.

I am not certain about how suitable the path key is here. Could also be a service road or a link, like secondary_link, motorcar=no.

I am also uncertain whether we should tag on the example of the Ping bridge above the motorcycle lane as individual way in OSM. Then we would have to add another pair for the footway. I did never dive too deep into that sidewalk/parking lane tagging thing. So I am uncertain what the current tagging standard is here.

How about splitting the discussion here? The table looks good for me for most scenarios. And we discuss the small aspect of dedicated lanes in urban context separately?

1 Like

There should be no ambiguity. I think the criteria are clear: if it is wide enough for a four-wheel vehicle, it is a secondary_link or service; otherwise, it is a path.

By the way, I agree that this kind of designated motorcycle way is rare, so it may not be a problem.


service=alley is also often too narrow for a typical car. But in this context of motorcycle lanes or underpasses it fits even less.

I see that the width is a good first indicator.

I encourage all to add tags like width/lanes in such special situations so the situation on the ground is reflected in the data directly. Saves data consumers from applying potentially error prone logic like “It’s a path, so probably width less than 2.5m”.

If no standard car can go through a service=alley, it should be tagged highway=footway when used exclusively or mainly by pedestrians, or highway=path when used by motorcycles (Thailand specific)

In Europe’s medieval cities, some service=alley can be very narrow, but standard small city cars do use them for access to utilities, residences, and even thru-traffic. This wiki section is explicit about the distinction.

A 2-meter width threshold is mentioned on the wiki page for highway=path and I have covered this:


Based on the latest feedback, I have updated the pathways wiki table: WikiProject Thailand - OpenStreetMap Wiki