I am trying to download some footway graph from OpenStreetMap (OSM) using osmnx.

Here is a piece of code:

import os, sys
import pandas as pd
import geopandas as gpd
import matplotlib.cm as cm
import matplotlib.colors as colors
import networkx as nx
import osmnx as ox
ox.config(log_console=True, use_cache=True)

G_test = ox.osm_net_download(polygon=None,
                             north=46.95489, west=7.46006,
                             south=46.95335, east=7.46132,

The ox.osm_net_download() method, is based on the Overpass API, so if I check what's in G_test and search for this OSM way 295557051 I can see that the OSM tags are shipped with the data:

{'type': 'way',
    'id': 295557051,
    'nodes': [2992861879,
     (...) # bunch of vertex coordinates here, skipped for clarity
    'tags': {'footway': 'sidewalk', 'highway': 'footway', 'surface': 'paved'}

The tags are of course the same as the one found by making a direct call to the Overpass API or the OSM API (on which the previous seems to rely) at this address for this way:

Up to this point, everything is fine.
But the ox.osm_net_download() method doesn't return a networkx graph object, it returns a Python list.

Therefore, to download a graph, I usually query the data through any of the proposed graph_from_*() methods, for example a graph_from_bbox*() as:

G = ox.graph_from_bbox(north=46.95490, west=7.46000,
                       south=46.95330, east=7.46230,


But when downloading the data using the latter method, the OSM tags no longer come with the data!
This is probably due the fact that the graph_from_*() methods are not based on the Overpass API but rather on the Nominatim API.
This may be related to: Cannot get response from nominatim API on some OSM objects

If I explore the result of the G graph, searching for the OSM way 295557051:

G_raw.edges(keys=True, data=True)

One of the may results (as they are many edges composing this OSM feature) look like this:

(2992861879, 2992861880, 0, {'osmid': 295557051, 'highway': 'footway', 'oneway': False, 'length': 4.821}), 

For a better comprehension, we can convert it to a GeoDataFrame using the ox.graph_to_gdfs() method:

G_gdf = ox.graph_to_gdfs(G, 

And print its content:


GDF from osmnx graph (OSM tags are not there.)

This problem is also propagated when saving the graph to an ESRI Shapefile using ox.save_graph_shapefile():

ox.save_graph_shapefile(G, filename=os.path.join('~/test_graph'))

Indeed, when I open the resulting Shapefile, for example in QGIS, a query on that same way doesn't show the OSM tags in the attribute table.

QGIS screenshot


I wonder where the tags are lost in the process and how to solve for this issue?


I was first thinking of converting the G graph to a GeoDataFrame, merging it with G_test which I also convert to a GeoDataFrame and then convert back that merged GeoDataFrame to a networkX graph, but I went into a strange error because the retrieved graph doesn't have the right structure:

TypeError: float() argument must be a string or a number, not 'NoneType'

Or to directly write the GeoDataFrame to PostGIS:

AttributeError: 'GeometryDtype' object has no attribute 'base'

But GeoPandas doesn't handle (yet) writing data to PostGIS:

So I'm stuck.

  • 1
    I'm not familiar with osmnx but I doubt that graph_from_*() methods call Nominatim and not Overpass. Nominatim is not suited for obtaining data for a specific bounding box since it is mainly a geocoder. So I guess there must be something else which removes tags after downloading.
    – scai
    Mar 11, 2020 at 11:23

1 Answer 1


I had a similar problem, I wanted to access the surface of streets.


The setting of the attributes that are transferred to the graph are defined in the settings.py

useful_tags_path = ['bridge', 'tunnel', 'oneway', 'lanes', 'ref', 'name',
                    'highway', 'maxspeed', 'service', 'access', 'area',
                    'landuse', 'width', 'est_width', 'junction']

You can edit the settings with ox.utils.config(). I added surface to the list of useful tags. This did the trick.

import osmnx as ox
useful_tags_path = ['bridge', 'tunnel', 'oneway', 'lanes', 'ref', 'name',
                    'highway', 'maxspeed', 'service', 'access', 'area',
                    'landuse', 'width', 'est_width', 'junction', 'surface']
  {'osmid': 527255117,
   'highway': 'path',
   'surface': 'grass',
   'oneway': False,
   'length': 361.7989999999999,
   'geometry': <shapely.geometry.linestring.LineString at 0x7fe6d9972490>})

I hope this helps you!


You can also manually set the following parameter with a list containing the tags you want:

ox.settings.useful_tags_path = ['surface', 'witdth', 'lanes', ...]

Source: https://osmnx.readthedocs.io/en/stable/osmnx.html#module-osmnx.utils

  • Oops, I totally forgot to come back here to post the solution I actually found a few days ago. And indeed, it was the same than the one you posted. But in my case, I have set up the tags I wanted as ox.settings.useful_tags_path = [ list of tags ]. Mar 23, 2020 at 19:00
  • 2
    For anyone else who comes along here, note that the old useful_tags_path setting was deprecated and replaced by the new useful_tags_way setting in a recent release. Same functionality.
    – gboeing
    Jun 12, 2020 at 4:25

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