[Tagging] Subject: Feature Proposal - RFC - highway=social_path

John Willis johnw at mac.com
Tue Jun 14 01:39:17 UTC 2016


> On Jun 13, 2016, at 9:23 PM, Martin Koppenhoefer <dieterdreist at gmail.com> wrote:
> but how would path=main or tertiary etc. make any difference here, or describe better who can take a certain way/which equipment/skills are required?

This is a good question. 

Look, first and foremost, I want to get the idea of "path/footway" - a Flat-ish way maintained for pedestrians and "trail" for hiking/trekking separated in some manner. I think we can all agree that a sidewalk along a road or a path through park is markedly different than a wilderness trail or informal cut-through. 

Large parks, trailheads, and natural areas often have several types of ways:

- a wide, massive paved "road" for people (highway=pedestrian) 

- 1m wide paved or "grade1" unpaved paths that still anyone can easily use, branching off to other areas or POIs 
(Highway=track / path / footway) 

- trails that serve to access more rugged terrain, and by being tagged and rendered differently, show that they have a very different "expectation of use". A very rough and potholed sidewalk, covered with broken asphalt bits would by a horrible sidewalk but (in most cases) a wonderful "smooth" and wide trail. This varies by region; most "trails" I hiked in California are very "smooth" and not so steep compared to the rocky/muddy/steep "trails" I encounter in Japan. So I am not trying to define the trail exactly - but I am trying to get a tag/subtag/colon-extension that says "this is a trail" to clearly and easily separate them from sidewalks and ways in a botanical garden or around a school. 

After that, we are dealing with mapping trail hierarchy and path grade. 


Large preserves usually have a main "route" through or around a park. This might be a point-to-point trail (a busy trail connecting trailheads, or the only route that actually connects to the next area) or a loop that goes around a natural feature and back to the trailhead.  

My idea was to have a single binary choice (main / ~~) to define the "important/major/main" trails. This allows for a major route to have a different render than others. 

The second idea of grading trails, similar to track type I am less sure of. 

Trail conditions vary so wildly, I think it is difficult to define - and people's perceptions of what is "needed" for a hike vary wildly. Some people are in full goretex and trekking poles; others on the same route are in shorts and tennis shoes. 

Therefore having a very widely defined simple categories of trails (below piste routes) is essential. 

This almost always has to do with footing. 

- smooth - easily walkable with no real thought to steps a majority of the time. 

- uneven - uneven trail surface which requires some attention to foot placement. May be made of large materials, but very little height difference between them. 

- rough - trail is made of large material, and drastically uneven surfaces - requires thoughtful placement of feet at all times to avoid slipping or injury. Often "steps" made of natural materials or deeply eroded materials. Usually impassible by mountain bike. 

- scramble - requires placement of hands and feet to pass a trail, but no climbing or bouldering skills. 

For example, almost all trails I have hiked in Southern California are "smooth". You can walk along and enjoy the scenery, not caring about foot placement most of the time. 

Those two pictures I attached from Japan previously are uneven. You can easily walk along both of those trails, but you have to pay attention to your feet a little due to terrain. 

I made a gallery of different trail and path types I have encountered and happened to have taken pictures of on Flickr. There are 10+ examples. 



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