[HOT] Highway=residential in Africa

Michael ohrosm at gmail.com
Wed Jun 15 10:22:35 UTC 2016


as I have struggled with this myself in the past I would like to comment
from my point of view:

2016-06-14 23:51 GMT+02:00 Alex Bogedain <alex.bogedain at gmail.com>:

> In terms of the Unclassified/Tracks/Paths debate, in these rural areas
> especially, I believe tracks should almost always win out.

I am afraid that I disagree, even though I mapped a lot of roads as tracks
in the past. You need to make sure not to be mislead by the word 'track'
but how 'highway=track' is defined in OSM. To me this is about ways not for
standard traffic but more agricultural/forestry uses. But as a non-native
speaker I probably have the small advantage of not directly associating a
specific definition with 'track'.

> I say this because if these indeterminable lines pass by and connect
> houses/huts or fields, then the road type is clearly not unclassified, as
> it has a classification of connecting residential or agricultural areas.

Here the word 'unclassified' is pretty misleading as well. For some reason
'highway=unclassified' does not mean that the road is not classified at all
but does not have any special classification. In other words it is
something like "other road" or any road that is not tertiary or above.

> Further, it is indistinguishable for us at a distance to determine between
> tracks and paths because one day a family could get a motorbike and start
> traveling what could have been considered a path with a motorized vehicle,
> or anyone for that matter could drive down the path/track on a motorbike to
> access the houses or fields.  From my understanding, out in rural areas,
> especially Africa, there are no controls on the modes of transportation as
> transportation is limited to what any person is able to acquire within
> their means.  Going forward into the future this means that the modes will
> be changing as more families get motorbikes or 4 x 4 vehicles, thus,
> classifying a road as a track covers all the bases for now and moving
> forward.  The local population will be the ones to make the distinction and
> things will change as time progresses.

'highway=track' is mainly about what the road is mainly used for, less what
vehicle can be used on it. In Germany there is such a thing as
'highway=track, surface=paved' - but other than 'highway=unclassified'
those tracks usually have sign limiting their use to agricultural use only.
This is not really intuitive but that's just the way things evolved in OSM.

> To wrap up my thoughts on this, when viewing OSM (not logged in for
> editing) residential and unclassified roads appear the same, but tracks
> appear differently as how unmaintained roads would appear on nearly any map
> around the world.  In terms of the PMI and other humanitarian initiatives,
> it would be disingenuous to classify these narrow roads as unclassified as
> the users of the map should be ready for a track, or possibly something
> untraversable for their vehicles.  If we are to map in terms of an areas
> actual use of roads, to my understanding unclassified would not cover these
> types of roads and would not describe them accurately at all for actual
> drive-ability.

Well, as a general rule within OSM the tagging should not based on how
current maps render things but rather on the actual situation. In other
words, for example mapping a road as  track to get a dashed line is not a
good idea. If there is a need to display this differently on the map, the
rendering should be changed, not the tagging. 'Tagging for the renderer' in
fact is something that is not really appreciated in OSM.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/hot/attachments/20160615/ec2fd544/attachment.html>

More information about the HOT mailing list