[Tagging] highway=primary/secondary/tertiary - tag according to quality or usage?

Greg Troxel gdt at lexort.com
Mon Nov 28 13:36:25 UTC 2016

Michael Tsang <miklcct at gmail.com> writes:

> There are some highways which the quality isn't up to the usage, resulting in 
> congestion. Those highways connects high-quality motorway/trunk/primary 
> highways together for long distance traffic, but they only have a single lane 
> per direction, with lots of traffic lights, junctions, driveways, etc., 
> resulting in slow traffic. Because the absence of roads of proper quality, those 
> low quality roads become bottlenecks in the whole network.
> A while ago, I tagged them all with highway=tertiary, consistent with the 
> quality of highways around the region, disregarding the actual kinds of traffic 
> on the highway, and someone retagged them as highway=primary reflecting the 
> actual usage for long-distance inter-town traffic, and send a message to me 
> about that.

First, primary/secondary/tertiary is a UK notion.  In the US, we have
more or less used that for US highway, state highway, and other
important road between towns.

Overall, I think if people really care about which tag is used, then
other than arguing about formal road networks, that's a clue that
routing or rendering is being done based on just the type, rather than
the other attributes.

If it is one lane in each direction, then tag the lanes value.  If there
are stop signs ro lights, tag them.   Then, a router can make routes
that correspond to the physical experience of driving.

Also, one lane in each direction is pretty normal for long-distance
roads that really are primary, at least around me (US, outside of
cities, not Interstates).    Most highway=secondary are only one lane
each way.
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