Incomplete bicycle tags on paths in Belgium

Hi all,

I’m Lennard Derudder, an avid OpenStreetMap contributor and geomaticus at RouteYou.

Here at RouteYou we use OpenStreetMap for a lot of things, including for all our routings. Therefore it’s in our best interest that this data is as correct as possible and we often make modifications based on input from our users. Some years ago we decided to make ways with the highway=path tag inaccesible for our bicycle routings if they’re not specifically tagged with bicycle=yes (unless there’s a bicycle relation going over the path or if a verified bicycle route passes over it on our platform). This is a conservative approach that works well in regions where this information is consistently added, but there are also a lot of regions where you are indeed allowed to use a path with your bicycle while there’s no bicycle=yes tag. Some examples are:

  • These small acces roads to a cycle path going through a suburb of Bruges → OSM. Mapillary data suggests that bicycles are indeed allowed to use them → mapillary. Since no bicycle=yes tag is added, our bicycle routings go the long way round.

  • Wallonia has a lot of ways that are tagged as highway=path, but don’t have a bicycle=yes or no tag when applicable. However since there are specific rules in place in Wallonia which say that paths (sentiers) are only for walking unless stated otherwise and tracks (chemins) can be used by bicycles, there’s already been a lot of work done by the OSM community to apply the correct highway tag. However, there still remain paths where no bicycle tag is present, but that are accesible for bike. An example is this path (OSM, StreetView) which clearly is accesible by bike as you can see on this picture by the fact that a bicycle relation passes over it. This path should therefore be tagged as bicycle=yes.

To fix these issues, we’ve made three maproulette challenges in Vlaanderen, Wallonië and Brussel (our main user base is located in Belgium) so we could easily spot problems and subsequently try to fix them. However, since we are a small team of 3 of which no one can work fulltime on these challenges, we would like to reach out to the OSM community to help us in fixing this incomplete information. If you are interested in this project, you can find the current MapRoulette challenges here.

If you have any questions about this or if you would like to discuss other solutions to this problem, feel free to start a conversation in the comments. If you would like to see a MapRoulette challenge added for your region outside of Belgium, don’t hesitate to ask so I can add it for you.

Happy mapping!

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