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Hereabouts there are lots of instances where roads almost join other roads, but are blocked for motor vehicles - normally with bollards. Their legal designation as a way is dubious. As I understand it, they are technically foot-ways and "ancient" local by-laws mean you can't ride a bicycle through them. If you read some of the rules you couldn't even go through with a push-chair (stroller) because it has wheels. Of course, everyone does and no reasonable person would object.

There are also many short sections of path running between houses making safe and commonly used short-cuts for bicycles, also commonly used but technically not legal. Some have signs and/or barriers to make it difficult but others do not. (I, and others, have been pressing local authorities to remove the signs where they are ridiculous but it costs money so they're simply ignored in practice).

So - how should these situations be marked. They're not legally designated as having bicycles permitted but they're used every day, and to omit them on a technicality makes the map less useful generally, and routing for cycles becomes a nonsense.

For the cases where roads almost join but are blocked for wide vehicles using bollards or similar, I am inclined to use:




Where it's a short footpath link that it's reasonable to cycle along (even if you have to stop to pass pedestrians) and there are no barriers or signs to forbid cycling, and reasonable people use it daily for getting a bicycle through:




And if there are barriers or signs up and it's awkward, dangerous or no reasonable person would cycle along it, it gets a "bicycle=no".

Is this reasonable, or is there a strict policy I'm not aware of meaning that only legally defined cycle paths permit cycling? If this is the case, bicycle routing becomes a nonsense.

Just so be clear about this, I'm talking about short sections of path (5-20m) which will save a cyclist a 1Km detour out on to main roads. I'm not talking about turning footpaths in to bridleways.

asked 16 Jul '13, 08:41

Frank%20Leonhardt's gravatar image

Frank Leonhardt
accept rate: 0%

edited 16 Jul '13, 09:22

The following answer relates to standard practice in the UK and is not intended to make any judgement about tagging practice elsewhere in the world.

The bicycle= tag represents the legal status of the way. If bicycles are forbidden by an explicit sign, then it should be bicycle=no. Similarly, if there is a sign to expressly permit cycles, you should add bicycle=yes or use a tag which implies it (such as highway=cycleway).

Cut-throughs between houses of the type you mention are best simply tagged with highway=footway and surface=asphalt (or whatever). Do not put bicycle=yes if it is of footpath construction (see the Duck tagging link posted by Cartinus) and there is no bicycle signage; to do so would be implying that there is official permission to cycle on this path. This is not "a technicality"; we record what's on the ground, and if there is no legal permission for cycling, we shouldn't record that there is.

Sensible cycle routers (such as CycleStreets) will permit routing over such paths if it makes for a more efficient journey, though they may advise you to dismount. If the router you are using does not, that's a bug in that router.

Roads blocked with bollards, but permitting cycle access, are indeed usually marked with highway=cycleway. Do add a barrier=bollard node as well.

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answered 16 Jul '13, 18:29

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦
accept rate: 18%

Whether to use a strict legal definition or to use "duck tagging" is dependent on where you live. As this differs from country to country. I believe duck tagging is the more common approach in the UK.

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answered 16 Jul '13, 10:09

cartinus's gravatar image

accept rate: 27%

I've been mapping paths here in Hamilton, New Zealand and have used the tag 'bicycle=dismount' for any paths either having 'No Cycling' signs or being awkward, dangerous etc. My reasoning is that at least the link is shown on the map but, by using the 'dismount' tag, I (or OSM!) won't get offside with the local Council for encouraging cycling on restricted paths. 'Cycling' here is defined as riding or scooting a bike which I think is the same as in Britain. We are allowed to dismount and wheel bikes on paths having 'No Cycling' signs. Having said that, many of the restrictions have only been put in place because of inconsiderate cycling by people who of course ignore any restrictions! Hope this helps. Graham

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answered 16 Jul '13, 11:17

NZGraham's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

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question asked: 16 Jul '13, 08:41

question was seen: 8,268 times

last updated: 16 Jul '13, 18:29

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum