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

John Willis johnw at mac.com
Sat Aug 29 12:56:22 UTC 2015


> On Aug 29, 2015, at 7:46 PM, Richard <ricoz.osm at gmail.com> wrote:
> I think that "trail" is very vague, look at english witkionary, wagon trail etc
> so the word itself would already cause trouble.
> highway=footpath may cause less trouble

I think highway=primary is very vague. It is the name of a color group and schools for little kids. Does that mean it is a driveway for primary schools? Lets use "road" since it is means everything (and therefore nothing).

A wagon trail is now called a "track" in most of the world.  Maybe it is still a trunk road in Very rural or developingp countries, but it will have cars on it. I have seen an actual "wagon trail" in the desert made in 1847 up a narrow canyon in the desert in California. A trail back then was a way for people and horses. A wagon trail was a rough path large enough for a 4 wheeled vehicle - a standard wagon - to pass, sometimes with great difficulty, but still pass. We call those "tracks" today.  The Mormons in the Mexican-American war turned a foot trail into a wagon trail by cutting the sedimentary rock (with axes) just wide enough to squeeze a wagon through, making the first "trunk route" directly to Southern California. 

Parts of it are now *gasp* a hiking trail, as it is an abandoned track unfit for 4 wheeled vehicles. 


There needs to be a distinction between sidewalks/walkways through a park and rough trail through a forest. 

People are mapping not only huge expanses of wilderness where there are only tracks and trails, but areas where the wilderness meets cities, where informal or formal cuts through the woods bypass the long winding road, or a primary road, a service road, a cycleway, and a trail all parallel a river. 

Places where, as Shel Silverstein said, "the sidewalk ends". And being able to differentiate that in the data and the rendering is super important. Anyone travel with a stroller? A wheelchair? A city bike? A bike with a trailer? A hand cart? Use a cane? Have a bad knee? Not wearing boots? One look at a trail vs a sidewalk rendering would make you choose the appropriate path. A sidewalk down a hill from the temple vs a trail down the other side means the difference of life or death for an old man walking - slipping in the mud of a trail could kill him. It could be impassible for a city bike when wet. These are all assumptions we can make when seeing a sidewalk vs a trail - just like taking a minivan on a service road vs a track in the desert - Having dug 4 different cars out of the desert sand driving on tracks in washes, There is a big difference between a unpaved residential driveway and a track out in the desert. A police car was stranded in the mud outside my home when he mistook a grade 3-4 farming track for a service road (driveway) in the rain. That same distinction needs to be made with walking ways too. You can't expect one tag to cover everything between a nice paved, flat, straight, wide cycleway in a city along a river - all the way down to the crooked, narrow, rocky, uneven, steep way in a forest leading up the side of a mountain to a chain and ladder rungs nailed into a cliff (highway=viaferrata). That is insanity. 

Unclassified <~> track
Footway <~> trail

Those ways should be mapped and rendered differently. Which is why we have track. We need trail too. 

That abandoned "trunk road" in Box Canyon in the desert sure as hell isn't a sidewalk. 


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