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

Ilpo Järvinen ilpo.jarvinen at helsinki.fi
Thu Aug 27 22:12:17 UTC 2015

On Fri, 28 Aug 2015, John Willis wrote:

> Footway is a constructed or engineered way, dedicated and built to a 
> grade where foot traffic should expect an easy walk. This might make 
> other traffic passage easier as well ( bikes), but engineered with 
> pedestrians in mind.
> Path is a cleared area with minimal-to-no construction to create the 
> surface, or uses repurposed ways/areas that are no longer suitable for 4 
> wheel traffic (and abandoned road, track, or brownfield). The lack of 
> considerate engineering means the way can be used by any non 4-wheel 
> traffic because it was not engineered at a grade to specifically be a 
> footpath.
> Before they change path to mimic footpath, 

?? The rendering change has already been implemented.

> can we at least have a "trail" way then?  
> This is getting ridiculous. 

Just start using it then (highway=trail seems the most reasonable one, 
matching well, and it's even semi-documented ATM) and see how other 
mappers who consider this distinction important follow. Unfortunately that 
obviously costs you the rendering on the default mapnik map but that's 
small price to pay for this useful distinction, IMHO. In the end, if we 
get there, highway=path mess is hopefully less convoluted and easier for 
everyone really agree that the remaining ones are pretty much equal to 

I think it would also be useful to also document such "minimal" 
constructions into wiki too (e.g. erosion prevention measures). I think 
any language ambiguity related to "trail" can be solved with proper 
documentation. And also document sane default access assumptions.

> This change also means the retagging of all paths in Japan, as path is 
> defined as a trail. 

Not just Japan, there are other places too which have maintained this 
distinction rather consistently except for perhaps those few ways which 
come from shared cycleway presets (that will create 
highway=path+foot=designated+bicycle=designated, which I won't oppose 
even a little, btw, when there's a real trail tag for those who care 
about the distinction).


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