Mapping transverse steps

posted in: Observations, Participate | 3

How do you map steps that are transverse like these? This is a view towards Birmingham Central Library from Victoria Square and is a route traversed by thousands of people a day.

Currently highway=steps is for a set of steps along a linear way which doesn’t address this scenario which must occur tens of thousands of times across the planet.

There is a tagging proposal which as been around for a couple of years which seems to be going nowhere. I’ve read it and it’s far too complex for  me and I would guess most mappers.

Solving this problem is important a) for accurate mapping and  b) for disabled/visually impaired routing.

Perhaps a simple tagging scheme of highway=steps steps=transverse with the left hand side of the way being the top with a rendering of the current steps render with little arrows pointing in the downwards direction across the way?

While we’re at it perhaps the existing linear steps render could be improved with an arrow indicating down? But maybe that would be confusing with the one way render for streets/roads.

3 Responses

  1. RobJN

    I discussed this with Peter (not sherbourne, a different Peter), here in Coventry. We ended up going for steps at each end and a zig zag path between:

    For a wide area of steps but no zig zag path, we decided to use a few step ways spaced evenly along the area:

    None of the are ideal, but they work for now.

  2. Sander

    I’d make a new tag barrier=steps. It could be applied to a node (very short steps on a path), a way (for short steps over a wide lenghth, or long steps over a path), or an area (for long, wide steps, like the example given here).

    Highway=steps implies barrier=steps, so this doesn’t have to be combined.

    It would suffice for routing, and be useful for rendering as it can be combined with several highway types (path, pedestrian, footway)

  3. Brian

    aseerel4c26 has sent you a message through OpenStreetMap:

    I wanted to comment at but it seems to require some third-party accounts to do so… as I had already typed the text.. here it is (you may publish it there if you want to):

    The real-world feature is quite clearly an area. If we would tag this area highway=steps how to indicate the direction – that is the only problem. I would make it an area highway=steps but overlay (sharing nodes with the area) some highway=steps ways (one-dimensional) at important points with an indication of direction (incline=up/down). That could be a cheap way to indicate the direction for the whole area but at least it leads to routing compatibility.

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