[RFC] Feature proposal - rural


I am proposing the use of the tag rural=yes/no to be placed on roads to denote whether or not they are in a rural area, where there are no other tags which explicitly give this information.


There is no easy way to reliably determine if roads are in rural or urban areas. Some people have tried to use residential landuse or building density to make a best guess, but that is all it is and it requires a lot of pre-processing.

Knowing if a road is urban or rural is important for default speed limits in many countries, where this is one of the things that affects the default speed limit.

It could also be useful for implying other tags where these are not tagged explicitly, e.g. in some countries rural roads would be expected not to be lit and not to have sidewalks.

Relation to speed limit tags

source:maxspeed, maxspeed:type, zone:maxspeed and zone:traffic exist and all can have values such as DE:rural. So why do we need another tag for denoting a rural road?

If a road already has one of these tagged with XX:rural then rural=yes does not need to be added, similarly for XX:urban and rural=no.


  • Speed limit tags imply more accuracy than there really is. e.g. in Germany there are not just urban and rural roads, as established tagging might suggest, but also subcategories (rural dual carriageway and rural road with 2 or more lanes in each direction). The same is true in many other regions, so DE:rural is not actually sufficient to determine the default speed limit.
  • Some people consider these keys to be mutually exclusive, and so if a rural road had a signed speed limit then could it have both source:maxspeed=sign and zone:traffic=DE:rural?
  • Some roads are in multiple categories, e.g. in Guatemala (and other countries) there are different default limits for urban motorways and rural motorways, should they be tagged with GT:rural or GT:motorway?
  • This tag is not only about speed limits (zone:traffic claims not to be either, but would still have the problem in the above bullet point).

See the full proposal here: Wiki: Proposal:Key:rural
You can reply here or comment on the discussion page on the wiki.

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Ce sujet de discussion accompagne la publication sur https://community.openstreetmap.org/t/rfc-feature-proposal-rural/100195