OSM Bike Ottawa Tagging Guide
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OSM Bike Ottawa Tagging Guide

Table of Contents


Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Paved Multi-Use Path (MUP) Typically 3m wide, may be wider. Mixed bike and foot traffic.
way highway=path
Twinned Path Typically >4.5 m wide. Separated bike and foot traffic
way highway=path
Walkway Typically <3m wide. May not have curb cuts. Intended primarily for foot traffic, though bikes are not prohibited
way highway=footway
Unpaved Multi-Use Path (MUP) Typically 3m wide. Mixed bike and foot traffic. Often a stonedust surface, but sometimes dirt.
way highway=path
Desire line Well-worn path in a direct line between popular destinations. Also known as a goat path.
way highway=path
Singletrack Recreational in purpose, may be meandering or direct. Most often maintained by users. Often includes technically challenging sections, but some sections may be appropriate for transportation
Track road Also known as doubletrack. Typically direct, but surfaces are often too rough for comfortable cycling. Motor vehicles such as ATVs are often permitted, but track roads are typically not used by conventional cars. May not be maintained.
Boardwalk May be recreational in purpose, but some sections are suitable for transportation
way highway=path

Physically Protected

Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
One way protected lanes Also known as cycletracks. Separated from the roadway by elevation, pedestrians not permitted.
way highway=cycleway
One way protected lane, on only one side of a two-way road Also known as a cycletrack. Not all roads have cycletracks on both sides. Separated from the roadway, pedestrians not permitted.
way highway=cycleway
Bi-directional protected cycletrack Separate way for the cycletrack.
way highway=cycleway
One way physically protected bike lane The bike lane and roadway share a continuous surface but are separated by substantial treatments that may include:
- planters
- concrete sleepers
- jersey barriers
- parked cars
way highway=cycleway
Contraflow lane with separation If the separation is only paint or flex posts, see contraflow lanes in the "Painted Spaces" section. On one-way streets where there is a physical form of separation.
way highway=cycleway
Service strip Asphalt strip, resembles a cycletrack,
but is typically narrow and in poor condition,
with no intersection treatments, and may include utility poles.
Intended as a low-maintenance surface for snow storage.
Also provide width and smoothness tags.
way shoulder=service_strip
Shared sidewalk (signed) A standard sidewalk, sharing designated by signage.
Surface is often concrete, rather than asphalt.

Add the sidewalk tag to the highway=* way
way sidewalk:both/left/right:bicycle=yes

Painted Spaces

Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Buffered bike lane Not to be confused with a protected bike lane (described in the previous section). The bike lane and roadway share a continuous surface but are separated by flimsy treatments that may include:
- flex stakes
- double paint line
way cycleway=lane
Painted bike lane, on a divided road A single line of paint delineates the bike lane.
Bike symbol may be painted in the lane.

The lane is reserved for bikes by posted signage.
way cycleway:right=lane
Painted bike lane, on an undivided road A single line of paint delineates the bike lane.
Bike symbol may be painted in the lane.

The lane is reserved for bikes by posted signage.
way cycleway=lane
Advisory bike lane Dashed lines delineate bike lanes on each side of the street, and this functions like any other bike lane for cyclists. The remaining roadway is too narrow for two-way motor traffic.
Motorists may enter the bike lanes when encountering an oncoming vehicle, but must give priority to cyclists.
way lanes=1
Pocket bike lane Painted lane positioned between a right-turn lane and a through lane.
Right turn lane length can be quite variable. The cycleway:middle tag is an invention, since there is no convention for this situation.
way -cycleway:middle=lane
Contraflow lane no separation On one-way streets, only a yellow line separates two-way bike traffic. If there is physical separation in the form of a barrier or vertical discontinuity, see the enrty on contraflow lanes with physical separation.
way cycleway=opposite_lane
Shoulder, not signed as a bike lane A single line of paint delineates the shoulder.
No signage or bike symbols present.
Parking on the shoulder is typically permitted.
way shoulder:left/right/both
Traffic-calming parking lane Resembles a bike lane or paved shoulder,
but is typically narrow and, unlike a paved shoulder,
includes a curb. Intended to visually narrow the road and calm traffic speeds.

Not specifically intended for cycling, but may be functional.
Parking is typically permitted.
way -tag like any other shared road with/without parking

Mixed Traffic

Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Dooring zone Unique in Ottawa. Painted warning that cyclists should
avoid riding close to parked vehicles.
way cycleway=mixed_traffic
otherwise, tag like any other shared street with parking
Super sharrows Green backgound for enhanced visibility.
Indicates lane position cyclists should use on roads
where no cycling infrastructure is present.
way cycleway=mixed_traffic
Sharrows Bike symbol indicates lane position cyclists should use on roads
where no cycling infrastructure is present. Require frequent re-painting and may be very faded;
it's still of interest to know which roads are intended to have sharrows.
way cycleway=mixed_traffic
Shared bus/bike lane Cyclists will often have these lanes to themselves,
but sometimes will need to navigate amidst buses. Designated by signage.
way cycleway=share_busway


Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Smoothness Read more on the wiki. Always a subjective call. Here are some more cycling-specific interpretations of the keys.
way smoothness=*
Excellent Fresh flawless pavement
way smoothness=excellent
Good Decent on skinny tires
- Asphalt with a few cracks and bumps
- Flawless stone dust
way smoothness=good
Intermediate A bike with sturdy tires and wheels would be preferred by most.
- Bumpy but not hazardous pavement.
- Stonedust with some minor washouts.
- Well-packed featureless dirt.
way smoothness=intermediate
Bad - Pavement with jarring bumps, alligatoring, or large cracks.
- Coarse gravel or stonedust with washouts that require alertness.
- Dirt trail with small stones or some small roots.
way smoothness=bad
Very_bad A mountain bike, perhaps with front suspension, is a more comfortable choice here.
This is the worst pavement condition that Ottawa is willing to just live with.

- Pavement with hazardous bumps and cracks large enough to swallow skinny wheels.
- Stonedust with hazardous washouts.
- Rocky surface, such as an ATV trail.
- Dirt trail where stones or roots require attention.
way smoothness=very_bad
Horrible Dangerously broken pavement that should be fixed immediately; this is not a tag that will often apply to paved surfaces.
- Trails with large stones or roots that may require dismounting or suspension
way smoothness=horrible
Very Horrible Rough-edged stones, many exposed roots, suitable only for fatbikes or full suspension
way smoothness=very_horrible
Impassable Almost nobody would be able to ride this
way smoothness=impassable

Lane Configuration

Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
One Lane Advisory bike lane streets where cars must use bike lane to pass by each other. Single-lane bridges.
way lanes=2
Two Lanes Most residential streets consist of two lanes.
way lanes=2
Multiple Lanes Includes turning lanes
way lanes=5
Width Most designated MUPs have a width of 3m, though some are wider. Walkways are typically 2m
way width=*
Speed limit Only show if the speed is posted different than 50.
way maxspeed=40


It's possible to get into deep detail on street parking; we are mainly concerned with whether it is present, or saying definitively that it is absent.

Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Left Parking, left side
way parking:lane:left=parallel
Right Parking, right side
way parking:lane:right=parallel
Both Parking, both side
way parking:lane:both=parallel
No Parking No Parking
way parking:lane:both=no_parking
No Stopping No Stopping
way parking:lane:both=no_stopping


Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Flood Prone Use flood_prone=yes
If the flooding is a predictable annual event,
you may wish to add conditional access restrictions to
indicate times of the year when the way should be avoided.
way access:conditional=no @ May 1-15


Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Maintained If maintained, seasonal=no
way seasonal=no
Not maintained If not plowed, seasonal=yes and
add a conditional restriction of access:conditional=no @ Dec-Mar
to indicate the period when the way is typically unavailable
way seasonal=yes
Poorly maintained If poorly plowed, add a conditional restriction of smoothness:conditional=bad @ Dec-Mar
way smoothness:conditional=bad

Filtered Permeability and Pinch-Points

Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Chicane without channel node
Chicane with channel node
P-Gate node barrier=cycle_barrier
Block/Boulder/Planter node barrier=block
Bollard node barrier=bollard
Split-path entrance node

Force Dismounts

Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Narrow Gate Very narrow gate (<90 cm gap)
node barrier=cycle_barrier
Swing Gate Swing gate, can be opened and closed.
node barrier=swing_gate
Stairs with no trough way highway=steps
Stairs with trough way highway=steps
Lock crossing way bridge=yes
Curb cut needed node bicycle=dismount

Intersections and other Road Crossings

Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
All-way stop node
Two-way stop node
Pedestrian Crossover Also known as PXOs. These are mid-block crossings,
designated by a variety of different signage treatments.
They are not crosswalks, which are located at intersections.
Cyclists may use PXOs, but are required by law to walk their bike.
Yield node
Traffic circle, no bypass node way
Traffic circle with bypass node way
Bicycle box Also known as an advanced stop line (ASL).
ASL nodes are located before the actual junction node,
and are always connected to their junctions by the Way they're on.
node cycleway=asl
Jug handle These are places for the cyclists to pull off to the right,
out of the stream of traffic, and await an opportunity to cross the road.
node cycleway=asl
Cyclist-only left turn lane node way
Cycleway crosses highway node way

Other tags for ways not shown

Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Truck route way hgv=yes
Trucks prohibited way hgv=no
Bridge way bridge=yes
Tunnel way tunnel=yes
Lighting way lit=yes
Operator operator operator=NCC/City of Ottawa/Ville de Gatineau
Official name way node name=*

Points of Interest (Nodes)

Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Bicycle Parking node amenity=bicycle_parking
Drinking Water node amenity=drinking_water
Bench node amenity=bench
Waste Basket node amenity=waste_basket
Waste Basket node amenity=waste_basket
Bicycle Repair Station node amenity=bicycle_repair_station
Bicycle Share Station node
Bicycle Counter node man_made=monitoring_station


Feature Description OSM Schema Mapillary Photo
Share the road sign Useful to tag as an advocacy target
node traffic_sign=*
Single file sign Useful to tag as an advocacy target
node traffic_sign=*
Bike route sign May be useful as way-finding if they come with a bike route number, but many are just generic green signs
node traffic_sign=*
Walk your Bike A permissive sign that indicates you may walk your bike. This sign does not make dismounting mandatory.Tagging them will be useful for indicating areas where there is insufficient space to share with pedestrians or where legal road crossing facilities have not been provided.
node traffic_sign=*

JOSM Tips & Tricks

  • Enable "Parking Lanes" style in JOSM to easily see existing parking tags
  • Apply filter highway=* in JOSM (tick checkbox in Inverse column to hide everything but roads) - to avoid clutter and annoying landuse areas that stick to roads
  • Use Google Streetview since you need to look sideways at signs. Just open it in another tab and quickly jump back and forth. Takes a few seconds for each block. If you see parked cars right away - easy. If no cars around - check for sign posts and closest hydro poles. If still nothing - then parking is allowed.
  • Don't bother with conditional parking. If parking is allowed at any point during the day then from stressmap point of view parking is allowed
  • Cut ways if needed, when rules differ between blocks (In JOSM Ctrl-select road and node and press "P")
  • If you have several roads with identical parking rules - just Ctrl-select them and add same tags

Tasking Manager


Before starting this OSM Cycling Task, read the following references to be familiar with the cycling OSM scheme.


This Tasking Manager will be divided into 2 tasks.

Task 1 - Parking Lane Configuration and Speed Limits (Beginner)

Mark as done in the Tasking Manager.

  • maxspeed
  • parking:lane:left
  • parking:lane:right
  • parking:lane:both

Possible values: parallel, marked, no_stopping, no_parking, fire_lane

More description of parking tags: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key🅿️lane#Parking_position

Task 2 - Biking Conditions (Advanced)

Mark as validated in the Tasking Manager.