[Tagging] Describe explicitly that values of highway tag do not imply anything about road quality (except highway=motorway and highway=motorway_link)

John Willis johnw at mac.com
Wed Aug 12 12:35:24 UTC 2015

I agree that highway=* can't imply quality globally, but it is documented country by country how to tag certain types of roads, especially when there are enough types of roads to need all the definitions of highway=*. Japan's tagging page defines all the values and relates them to their region's system, from motorway through path. I imagine each country or region has a how-to guide as well to translate local conditions into basic highway=* types. 

Perhaps mentioning after this addition that a mapper should refer to their local tagging documentation in the wiki for a region, or ask a nearby mapper for pointers if they have a question. 

Like I pester you guys about. ^_^


> On Aug 12, 2015, at 5:56 PM, Mateusz Konieczny <matkoniecz at gmail.com> wrote:
> What is below is supposed to document existing consensus rather than
> introduce new rule. I am aware that there is significant majority
> convinced that some road types universally guarantee or imply certain
> values (like widespread usage of highway=track to mark all unpaved
> roads and only unpaved roads, popular in some regions).
> I am also aware that in some regions "dual carriageways are usually at
> least highway=tertiary", "paved roads are at least
> highway=unclassified", "highway=primary has at least 2 lanes in each
> direction" or "paved roads passable for the entire year are
> highway=trunk" are good approximations - but it does not make it
> universally true or necessary requirement to use these tags.
> proposed description to be added on
> http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:highway - maybe also on pages
> about individual road types.
> Only highway=motorway/motorway_link implies anything about quality.
> Other road types, from highway=trunk through highway=tertiary to
> highway=residential=residential/service or
> highway=path/footway/cycleway/track do not imply anything about road
> quality. In area with poor infrastructure road forming main road
> network, of the highest importance in region should be tagged
> highway=trunk - no matter whatever is is high-quality asphalt road or
> unsurfaced tract unusable after major rains.
> In absence of surface, tracktype and other tags describing quality of
> road one may try to extrapolate this information from
> value of highway tag. Note that this needs tuning for every region.
> Typical highway=primary may be drastically different in various places
> across the planet.
> It is highly recommended to add and use tags describing road quality
> like surface. In one region it may be obvious that all highway=tertiary
> are paved and highway=track unpaved but no assumption like that will
> work worldwide.
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