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Hello, there.

I was wondering: there are numerous examples of rest areas like the following, but how exactly to map them?

The first example: first example

These are often only a stop area, sometimes with some trash cans, even less often with picnic tables; this one, apart from mapping cans and tables if present, I have no idea how to map it.

Second example: second example

These are bigger, and the ones without tables and trash cans are not the predominant type. There, I would say to map the highway, maybe as highway=service, and the tables and cans, but there may be a better modelling; if so, how?

I must add that I expect a mean to explicitly map them as rest areas, as it's their use, and consumers like road GPS receivers often use these areas to help their users by saying "Hey, you didn't take a rest during the past 3 hours, you could rest here, 5 minutes ahead.". I don't know if such a modelling exists, though.

Awaiting your answers,


asked 19 Feb '16, 07:37

Penegal's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

highway=rest_area is pretty popular. It has currently around 13k usages, half of them as nodes, the other half as ways/areas.

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answered 19 Feb '16, 07:49

scai's gravatar image

scai ♦
accept rate: 23%


I think of a rest_area as someplace where there are toilets and perhaps picnic tables. I map objects in the illustration as highway=service and a node (or an area) as amenity=parking. Add nodes for drinking water and waste baskets or tourism=viewpoint when appropriate.

(19 Feb '16, 09:24) AlaskaDave

According to the current wiki description rest areas may have picnic tables, garbage bins and toilets. If they have these features then they can be mapped either separately or with an additional tag like toilets=yes/no. This way a router can decide whether to show these places or not.

(19 Feb '16, 09:37) scai ♦

I'd agree with AlaskaDave - the top example isn't really a rest_area because it has no facilities at all. I'd just tag it as "amenity=parking; parking=layby". The second one might just qualify as a rest_area if it had some facilities, but if not I'd just tag the service road, and then the parking area as "amenity=parking; parking=layby".

It is unhelpful to tag things that are "on the way to X but not actually X" as "X" because it means there's then no way to tell them from the real "Xs" that have been mapped.

There are other examples of this within OSM - the use of "natural=peak" is (at least in England and Wales) one; "natural=tree" also was (not helped by the English English definition of "tree" not matching the original OSM definition of "significant tree"). Here at least "rest_area" does have an English definition, and the first example above definitely isn't one, and the second probably isn't. Both are laybies.

(20 Feb '16, 11:01) SomeoneElse ♦

@SomeoneElse then our wiki pages need to be fixed. The English version even lists lay-bys as examples for highway=rest_area. The German page suggests to use it also for places to make driver changes etc.

(20 Feb '16, 12:46) scai ♦

Completely agree with SomeoneElse here: both are lay-bys and not rest areas. Many lay-bys, such as the first example, are unsuitable for wandering away from the car. Note in the UK some lay-bys have cafes or similar in portacabins but are still lay-bys (I've never quite understood the planning basis for such locations)

(15 Apr '20, 14:12) SK53 ♦

There is one here It is just a parking node, and is used mainly by HGVs ( heavy goods vehicles ) so the drivers can comply with law that they have rest stops. Cars can use them but adding the number of spaces wouldn't make sense. I my opinion a parking node is the best way to map them, if there are other facilities add them. It is useful that these parking spots are mapped. They are called laybys in GB.

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answered 19 Feb '16, 17:22

andy%20mackey's gravatar image

andy mackey
accept rate: 4%

I agree that these areas can be considered as parking, but with a specific usage, that highway=rest_area models better than just amenity=parking, which serves a different purpose IMHO. Thanks anyway.

(20 Feb '16, 09:09) Penegal

If I was looking for a highway rest area I'd feel very short-changed if a search came up with Andy Mackey's example on the A14. It's just a service road separated from an almost-motorway by a bit of armco. Rest areas on the Australian model (the wiki page was created by an Australian) are pretty rare in the southern UK, as the distances don't require it. Unfortunately the wiki page was edited by someone from the southern UK who it appears has never seen a rest area and assumed that a layby was one.

(20 Feb '16, 11:10) SomeoneElse ♦

Question is pretty old, but for the first picture I would use parking:lane - for parking alongside a highway. Also you can add some restrictions if apply. amenity:parking assumes some bigger facility.

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answered 15 Apr '20, 10:41

Plamen's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Not really; the first sentence says just "Use amenity=parking to tag a facility used by the public, customers, or other authorised users for parking motor vehicles, such as cars and trucks" and there's no use of "big" or "large" on that page.

(15 Apr '20, 12:11) SomeoneElse ♦

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question asked: 19 Feb '16, 07:37

question was seen: 4,400 times

last updated: 15 Apr '20, 14:12

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