[Tagging] Rural Alley?

johnw johnw at mac.com
Wed Jul 8 08:25:18 UTC 2015

I live in Japan, where most of the flat land is covered in extremely mixed use cities and farm fields. Being an old asian country, there are tons and tons of old windy local roads that go everywhere, and being a first wold country, also a modern roadway system meant for cars. The modern roadway system cuts through the old roads, so there are often little tiny paved, public roads that lead off everywhere. 

The issue is that these “small windy roads that go everywhere” go nowhere. the land they access is for farming the subdivided sections which follow the natural valleys and hills (as opposed to the large farming fields in the US), and the unclassified roads in the area end up being the only useful local roads, as they are the only ones that go somewhere directly, or don’t lead you on a tour of the local rice plots and hills. 

Since there is usually no housing (or a single farm house for a valley), it isn’t residential - there are no residents. it is basically access for the farmers, which then have a network of (private?) tracks and paths that break the sections down further. This also is not about some logging track that disappears into the mountains, but roads that connect these tracks and paths to the unclassified roads.

If this was in a city, I would use Alley - narrow and inconvenient roads meant just for extremely local access, and usually not used for routing, even in the neighborhood they are in - and not recommended for travellers trying to go through the area. So I have been using Alley - It is the only road that sits between residential and track. 

these farm roads meet every one of the Alley definitions - except for the parallel nature of alleys in very rural settings. These are often times a kilometer or so long - but they just loop around a big rice field, or connect to other roads which service other rice fields or logging plots: nothing of interest - not even a house - is there. Only the local farmers need use of them, but they are public. Rendering them as residential roads is very detrimental to the map - yes it does cause needless clutter - but that doesn’t bother me so much, though it is very difficult to tell what actually is the local “through” road. The major issues is, like an alley, they are narrow, and serve no other purpose than local access. It also blacklists these roads for all but local access by the routing engine, so you don’t end up on a road wide enough to just barely pass a bicyclist. Farmers use small little trucks just over a meter wide - they can go easily where a car or a delivery van would be concerned about oncoming traffic. 

As a user of Apple Maps and Google Maps in Japan - Japan’s road network classifications do not translate perfectly into western ideas - so the directions send me down very narrow yet paved and publicly accessible roads that I curse the map makers for allowing to be used for routing. It’s more than width - it’s the purpose of the road - the lack of shoulders and other road standards, and expected curves, turns, and other “classifications” of the road. 

These cover Japan like cobwebs in the rural areas, and are seemingly one level below residential or unclassified, and similarly above “track” 

Japanese suburban:
https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=15/36.3414/139.1660 <https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=15/36.3414/139.1660>

Japanese Rural, with a motorway and a train line cutting through. It’s not complete, but it gives you an idea.
https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=16/35.7957/140.3560 <https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=16/35.7957/140.3560>

note the “unclassified” roads everywhere around this section. half of these are Tracks, yet to be properly tagged after an import 3-5 years ago. I’m cleaning up the area around Japan’s biggest Airport. 

Using “Alley” in this way has given me good results, and I would like to make it more official. Thoughts?

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