[Tagging] surface=ground/dirt/earth

David Bannon dbannon at internode.on.net
Mon Mar 17 06:59:40 UTC 2014

Good on you Dave, I do like a good rant !

On Mon, 2014-03-17 at 10:47 +0700, Dave Swarthout wrote:

> <Begin rant>....IMO tracktype should describe the physical
> characteristics of a track, not a highway, and it should have nothing
> to do with "how well maintained" it is. 

Great in an ideal world Dave. However, there are many highways in the
world that are also 'tracks'.

Recognising this, the OSM Lords have given us highway= tags to describe
the purpose of a road. And tracktype= to describe the condition. Many
cases, the tracktype= is not needed as its condition matches its
purpose. But in situations where that is not the case, life threatening
situations arise when a map user is not appropriately warned. 

I agree tracktype may not be ideal but its better that the rest and I
think its too late to dream up a new one.

> ...... those surfaces have an additional important characteristic
> called smoothness. 

'smoothness=' is not really appropriate as there are many, many roads
that have issues beyond smoothness. I have seen tracks that appeared
beautifully smooth but were beyond my ability !

> How a "highway" ever got a tracktype tag is beyond me and seems a big
> mistake. 

That was part of the original definition of tracktype= when it was

> .... As far as smoothness is concerned, many have derided it as being
> too subjective. 

Look, lets be honest, just about anything in this world except the
integer series has some subjective aspect. Lets get over it !

>  say, "particularly regarding surface stiffness", IMO the word

Yes, Dave, I agree, Fernando's use of the word 'stiffness' is a bit
dodgy. But thats a 'subjective' opinion.

>  Perhaps soundness, permanence, or better yet, durability. 
No, I really think this is about how usable a road is given a set of
vehicle and driver experience. We, on the AU mailing list discussed
words like 'trafficability' and, from memory, some even worse ones !

But I do want a good solution and I'll agree to an OK one if its all I
can get. I want to badger the renderers to take note of the state of a
road before someone gets killed using an OSM map. Its only a matter of


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