Use of bicycle=designated vs bicycle=yes OUTSIDE of Germany

Dear all,
we had a long discussion on the German forum Radverkehrsanlagen kartieren: Wann setzt man bicycle=designated? / users: Germany / OpenStreetMap Forum about when to use bicycle=designated and when bicycle=yes. We find out that there is still no consensus on this in Germany.

Some mappers use designated to signalize that the cycleway is signed with the official blue traffic_signs (in Germany that means it is compulsory). Non-signed cycleway are marked with bicycle=yes.
Other mappers uses designated/yes only to signalize the difference between an shared foot/cycleway and an footway that is opened for cyclists (which means in Germany that cyclists are allowed or to ride at maximum walking speed). (The most cycleways in Germany are either shared or segregated foot/cycleways)

I would be interested to hear how other communities (not Germany) deal with the designated/yes gradation. To see it in the context of the local traffic rules, it may also interesting to know about:
Are in your country cycle paths along streets that must be used and those that are not?
Are pedestrians generally allowed to use cycleways? Are cyclists generally allowed to use the road or sidewalks or is it generally forbidden?

Are in your country cycle paths along streets that must be used and those that are not?

No.

But there are cases where footway can be used by cyclists (without making it mandatory, they are obligated to yield to pedestrians).

For example when footway is over 2m wide and road allows more than 50 km/h speed.

Are pedestrians generally allowed to use cycleways?

If there is no footway pedestrians can use cycleway and must yield to cyclists.

Are cyclists generally allowed to use the road or sidewalks or is it generally forbidden?

Cyclists are a vehicle, so they can and must use road unless instructed otherwise.


Some mappers use designated to signalize that the cycleway is signed with the official blue traffic_signs (in Germany that means it is compulsory). Non-signed cycleway are marked with bicycle=yes.

It works this way in Poland.

Other mappers uses designated/yes only to signalize the difference between an shared foot/cycleway and an footway that is opened for cyclists

And also this way, as both are equivalent in Poland (unless I missed something).

In which case this practices differ in Germany?

In Germany there are 3 kinds of “cycleways” along a road.

  1. with blue sign - that means (by law) , the way is compulsory (typically mapped as bicycle=designated)
  2. without blue signs but (more or less) recognizable as cycleway - that means (by law) that cyclist can decide weather to go on road or on cycleway
  3. with footway sign and “bicycle free” that means (by law) that cyclist can decide weather to go but maxspeed is walking speed (typically mapped as highway=footway bicycle=yes)

The type 2) is the one where we have no consensus about.

Is it allowed by law? Or some customary rule? Is it marked in some other way?

These 3 Kinds of sidepaths are by law. (I now added it to my earlier post)
Typically they have a different pavement or color of pavement or there is simply a segregation. If not there may be pictograms or traffic signs like “bicycle free”, but at the end there may also a small number of cases where it is not absolutely clear.

In Poland if there is no blue sign then it is a sidewalk. Even if it has different surface and bicycle pictograms painted on it.

Blue sign with a bicycle means that the path is mandatory foe cyclists, whether it is shared with pedestrians or not.

The only situations when a cyclist may decide to use sidewalk or not is 1. a blue sign for footway with additional table allowing bicycles and these are rare; 2. three exceptions when the law allows cyclists using a sidewalk.

So, in Poland there is no such thing as “without blue signs but (more or less) recognizable as cycleway”.

OTOH it’s rather rare for the police to catch cyclists on sidewalks.

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The question now is: if these are cycleways by law (no one but a bicyclist may ride on them), but don’t have a sign for it (just some color on the ground, paving stones in different color, etc.), are these bicycle=designated or bicycle=yes? How do you handle this outside of Germany?

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We had a bit of a discussion about this subject on the US Slack forum, where this discussion was mentioned. In my specific case I noticed this trail has a number of segments with bicycle=designated, even though it is primarily a hiking trail. It was determined there is not a lot of consensus as to what exactly bicycle=designated exactly means. (does it also imply the path is designed for bicycles)

However, because OSM-Carto puts the blue color on any path marked with bicycle=designated, I think it will continue to reoccur where people will use this tag in order to show a particular path as a bicycle path, irregardless of legal status.

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Just for the avoidance of doubt - “cycleway” in OSM does not mean “no-one but cyclists may use them”. Some OSM communities may have taken on that very narrow definition, but it is not universal.

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That depends. In Germany, designated implies access=no, so all other allowed transports have to be listed explicitly. And since highway=cycleway implies bicycle=designated cycleways are, by default, only usable by cyclists.

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Wow, I read the whole thing now and followed several links until I found this sentence from the user who proposed the designated value:

In general, “specially designated” means that there is a sign there saying something like “bicycles allowed”, or a bicycle icon, or something along those lines.

That means that “yes” means “not forbidden” and “designated” means “yes” :face_with_spiral_eyes:

That depends. In Germany, designated implies access=no, so all other allowed transports have to be listed explicitly.

Wo steht das?

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I thought so for a long time and for me it was the only sensible explanation why you need “designated”.

But since 2009 the Wiki says:
“The value designated is not meant to imply that OpenStreetMap access=* permissions have been automatically “designated” only to that transport mode!”

And other uses of designated e.g. hazmat=designated does not imply the permission only:

So in Germany you can only imply the exclusive permission by the default values of foot/cycle/briddle-way)

highway=path + foot=designated → footway → pedestrians only
highway=path + bicycle=designated → cycleway → cyclist only etc.

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das steht bei den landespezifischen highway defaults

But not explicit for path + sth=designated

OK, here’s a sampling of the use of bicycle=designated in 4 areas in England and Wales** - 2 rural, 2 urban, designed to capture a mix of usages. I then picked 4 samples in each area and looked at the tags. In summary, it seems to be mostly a combination of two usages:

  • (the largest number): A way was created for the use of people on bicycle. In most cases (but not always) there will be a legal right of access.
  • (fewer of these): A way is designated as a “public bridleway” or some sort of “byway”, where there is a legal right of bicycle access.

There’s also 1 (but only one) “highway=path; bicycle=designated;foot=designated” in the sample of 16 too.

The overpass queries and some examples from each area:

Mid Wales
https://overpass-turbo.eu/s/1mjr
235

access = yes
bicycle = designated
designation = unclassified_highway
highway = track
source = GPS, Bing
tracktype = grade3

bicycle = designated
designation = byway_open_to_all_traffic
foot = designated
highway = track
prow_ref = Llanwrthwl 44/2
surface = dirt
tracktype = grade2

bicycle = designated
foot = designated
highway = cycleway
segregated = no
source = NPE
type = route

bicycle = designated
cycleway = track
foot = designated
highway = cycleway

Central London
https://overpass-turbo.eu/s/1mjo
156

bicycle = designated
est_width = 1.75
foot = designated
highway = cycleway
lcn_name = Regent's Canal
lit = no
name = Regent's Canal towpath
oneway = no
segregated = no
surface = paving_stones
towpath = yes

bicycle = designated
foot = designated
highway = cycleway
lit = yes
name = The Broadwalk
oneway = no
segregated = no
surface = asphalt
usability:skate = excellent

bicycle = designated
est_width = 1.25
foot = no
highway = cycleway
lit = yes
oneway = no
segregated = yes
sidewalk = both
surface = asphalt

bicycle = designated
foot = designated
highway = cycleway
layer = -1
lit = yes
name = Regent's Canal Towpath
oneway = no
segregated = no
surface = paving_stones
towpath = yes

Manchester
https://overpass-turbo.eu/s/1mjp
130

bicycle = designated
cycleway:surface = asphalt
foot = designated
footway:surface = asphalt
highway = cycleway
layer = 0
lit = yes
name = Sackville Street
oneway = no
segregated = yes
surface = asphalt
tfgmcitycentre = yes

bicycle = designated
foot = designated
highway = path
segregated = no
source = survey

bicycle = designated
foot = designated
highway = residential
lanes = 1
lit = yes
maxspeed = 20 mph
motor_vehicle = no
name = Thomas Street
oneway = yes
oneway:bicycle = no
sidewalk = both
surface = asphalt

bicycle = designated
foot = yes
highway = cycleway
note = towpath
segregated = no
surface = paving_stones
tfgmcitycentre = yes
towpath = yes

North Pennines
https://overpass-turbo.eu/s/1mjq
600

bicycle = designated
designation = public_bridleway
foot = designated
highway = bridleway
horse = designated
motor_vehicle = no
surface = ground

bicycle = designated
class:bicycle:commute = -3
description = Former narrow-guage quarry tramway
designation = public_footpath
foot = designated
highway = cycleway
lit = no
mtb:scale = 0+
old_name = Weatherhill and Rookhope Railway
oneway = no
prow_ref = StanhopeRookhope FP 21
railway = abandoned
segregated = no
smoothness = bad
surface = gravel
trail_visibility = excellent

bicycle = designated
designation = byway_open_to_all_traffic
foot = designated
highway = service
horse = designated
name = Mount Eff Lane
prow_ref = Marwood BOAT 28

bicycle = designated
designation = public_bridleway
foot = designated
highway = track
horse = designated
prow_ref = 301 026
surface = unpaved

** In England and Wales there’s no assumed right of access (on foot or otherwise). This is different to places such as the Scandinavian countries, and also different to Scotland.

The original proposal says

In practice this created some problems (especially in Germany) where a designation for one mode of travel implies hard restrictions for all others

That made me believe that in Germany, designated implies access=no. But I see now, that this was only, because people were only mapping the blue signs as designated and everything else as yes. But it’s interesting that the disambiguation has been debated since 2008.

I guess if you live in a country with very few explicit allow signs, it does make sense to interpret “yes” as “not forbidden, but not explicitly allowed either”. It’s interesting to see what the mappers in each country made of this.

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What bicycle=designated means to me is that the path/way is specifically meant for cyclists, the cyclist is the primary user.

A highway=cycleway has already bicycle=designated as default default access restriction so no need to add it. A footway with “cycling allowed” is bicycle=yes.

The only other ways that fit this are a cycle street and (for the Netherlands) a path that has a red surface but no sign although that will almost always be mapped as highway=cycleway, not as highway=path + bicycle=designated.

Also two adjacent paths without a sign are assumed to be highway=cycleway + highway=footway but the footway is almost never separately mapped, instead foot=yes and sometimes sidewalk=right are added to the cycleway

The type of cycleway is mapped with traffic_sign=NL:G11/NL:G12a/NL:G13:


verplicht = compulsory, a G13 is not compulsory

sideways are not allowed for cycling AFAIK and on a path that is not signed as footway it is not forbidden to cycle but not too many people know that and it is often not done. These paths are also often mapped as highway=footway while strictly speaking highway=path would make sense.

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In Austria, there are three kinds of designated cycleways:

  1. Mandatory ones, they are designated by a round blue sign. They are mandatory in the sense, that, if you are going to where the way leads, you are to use this way, and NOT cycle on the carriageway. They only make sense, when the cycleway is part of the larger “street” continuum.
  2. Optional ones, they are designated by a square blue sign. It is an offer, to use them, instead of cycling on the carriageway. They may make sense even, when the cycleway is not part of a “street”.
  3. Green signs that are mounted along cycle-routes. I learned from talks with Australian mappers, that those are valid designations. There are mapping in Austria, that stem from more than ten years ago and follow this convention.

I think I read somewhere, the obligation to use mandatory cycleways is better tagged on the street, where the cycleway is mapped separately. There are even attributes to map, where a cycle:lane mapped on the street (continuum) is mandatory. Streetcomplete has tasks for them.

There is no law, that prohibits pedestrian use of explicitly designated cycleways. Still, pedestrians are to walk on the verge there, or if none such exists, not walk in the centre and have to yield to cycle traffic. Such is very rare, because most often, there is a mandatory footway right alongside, so this rule seldom applies.

Update: Sometimes, quasi agricultural tracks are signed with a round “lolly”, because it is easier for municipalities to order a cycleway, than it is for them, to order a motor-vehicle prohibition. These are in no way binding to cyclists. This is kind of a mystery to me.

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around here nobody cares about the details of the signs for bicycles and pedestrians, not even the administration or the people who put them. In theory the law has different kinds of cycleways (e.g. segregated and not), but in practice recently when they redid the markings they drew pedestrian symbols also on the spaces that should be reserved for cyclists according to the signs. E.g. here (note how the sign is inverted and that in the distance the cycleway is crowded with pedestrians)

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