[Tagging] shared driveways

Greg Troxel gdt at ir.bbn.com
Fri Nov 20 19:32:07 GMT 2009

Anthony <wikimail at inbox.org> writes:

> On Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 1:31 PM, Greg Troxel <gdt at ir.bbn.com> wrote:
>> Anthony <osm at inbox.org> writes:
>>> But I've come across situations where the unnamed road is not a
>>> roundabout, though.  In one of these cases I used
>>> highway=unclassified, because it was just a dirt road that was really
>>> just a shared driveway (it was imported from TIGER because it used to
>>> be a real road).
>> here, the question is the road's legal status.  If it's a private or
>> public way going to houses, it would be highway=residential.  If it's
>> really a driveway legally now, highway=service service=driveway, or
>> highway=track if it's really atrocious.  MassGIS data has a lot of
>> driveways showing up as ways that got mapped to residential, and I've
>> been fixing them in my town.
> What's the legal distinction between a "private way going to houses"
> and a "shared driveway"?  The road in question is definitely private -
> if the shared owners want to put up a gate and restrict access to the
> way, they have every right to do so.  So I'd say it's *both* a
> "private way going to houses" *and* a "shared driveway".

This is probably state specific.  I am not 100% clear even on mass.
There are laws that talk about operating vehicles on ways.  You can be
cited for speeding or OUI on a private way, and I'm 99% sure you need to
have a driver's license and a registered car.  On a driveway you do not
need a license or to have a vehicle registered.  Generally private ways
have street signs, names, and are sometimes plowed by the town.  They
meet more or less the road layout specs for streets, and can be accepted
as a public way by a vote of town meeting.  They are often part of an
approved subdivision plan.  They are usually a separate parcel from the
registry of deeds viewpoint.  Distance along them counts as frontage for
zoning (e.g., 1.5 acres and 200 feet or frontage to make a buildable

Have a look at this - it's a "private way" and you can see the parcel
that the road is, complete with the loop at the end.  Those houses
couldn't have been built without frontage.


Driveways, on the other hand, do not show up as separate parcels -
they're just bits of a parcel that are paved.

I don't understand if a person has a right of access to private ways
like they do with public ways.  But it's definitely much more reasonable
to just go on one than to go on someone's house lot.

> Another situation which I run into more often is the case of a private
> road owned by a condominium association (or mobile home park), or by
> an apartment complex.  Should these be tagged as something other than
> highway=residential?  I've always reserved highway=service for
> non-residential roads.  I now see on the wiki that highway=service can
> also be used with service=driveway, but what's the distinction between
> a driveway and a private road owned by a condominium association or an
> apartment complex?  One distinction is whether or not the way is
> shared, but then a shared driveway is shared as well.

I would call it highway=service service=driveway, unless some combination of

  it has a name and a sign with that name

  it is legally a 'private way' (that might later be accepted as a
  public way)

in which case residential.

probably we should have a way to tag a private way as
highway=residential and also private_way=yes.

IMHO, it's not about the sharing - it's about three distinct legal
statuses (public way, private way, driveway).

> Cross-postcoming to talk-us, this might be a US-specific issue.

I suspect there are similar issues everywhere, with different details.
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