[Tagging] highway=footway - Advanced definition: Distinction footway vs path

johnw johnw at mac.com
Mon Aug 3 10:30:09 UTC 2015

> On Aug 3, 2015, at 6:07 PM, Richard Mann <richard.mann.westoxford at gmail.com> wrote:
> highway=path should be a rough path
> highway=footway should be a made-up path with limited room for non-foot traffic (eg bicycles), or an explicit ban
> highway=cycleway should be a made-up path with good room for bicycles (given other usage)


I DO NOT WANT path & footway merged - we need to be able to show rough/informal paths. There are sidewlks that go up mountains, and trails that go up mountains. they are completely different, and merging the values together to be defined by subkeys is a terrible idea. we don’t define motorways and residential roads with the same value, and a rough path through the woods or an informal cut in the grass along some train tracks is not a sidewalk through a park or a footbridge over an intersection. 

As I understand it from reading bits of wiki and mailing lists (Please correct if wrong.):

From all the history, it looks like path was made to show some kind of mixed use way that footway was not good at - for mapping useful but unpaved and irregular pathways - trails, tracks, etc. A guy was pushing for this as useful for horses, I think. 

Then Track showed up, taking a lot of the path’s job for things like farming roads, fire roads, and other mixed use roads. 

Also, there’s bridleway, paths designated for horses. And cycleway too. I don’t know when they showed up, but it seems later than path. 

This leaves path to a more “rough, informal, unpaved, and/or sporadically maintained” role, narrowed down over time.  

This discussion is the result of the old definition of path clashing with it’s clearly smaller (but important) role. final step to officially narrowing path’s focus to a more limited role.  


I find 3-5 year old data imports where paths are marked that are clearly farming tracks or service roads (bridges!) and I retag them as appropriate. I use paths for hiking trails through forests, irregular narrow dirt paths through parks or along rivers (that brach off paved ways that are footways), and other official or in-use paths that are not paved or have a rough/impassible surface for a wheelchair, therefore not defacto "designated" for easy/effortless foot traffic and other uses (like a sidewalk). This is informal path / maintained trail / line cut through the grass is a great use for path.  

We really need an easily defined highway=path and a separate highway=footway. And the above does it very very well. 

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