[Tagging] Sample tagging for highways with no lane markings

Tod Fitch tod at fitchdesign.com
Wed May 23 15:34:36 UTC 2018

> On May 22, 2018, at 12:48 PM, Paul Johnson <baloo at ursamundi.org> wrote:
> In the case of your typical bog standard American residential street, I'm strongly disinclined to agree that this is a two lane situation.  I'd be inclined to mark unpainted lanes in the cases where channelization regularly occurs without the pavement markings anyway.  This isn't the case on residential streets, as people will tend to drive right up the middle of such streets, only movingly right to meet oncoming traffic and maybe when approaching a stop sign.

Hmmm. I guess driving culture may vary from place to place in the US. I always keep to the right regardless of the existence of a lane markings. I will admit, however, that traffic studies indicate that the average driver will be a bit more to the center of the pavement if there are no lane markings. Similarly, at least in residential areas, it has been found that drivers will generally go slower if there is no center marking. At least that is the rational my local government is using to remove the center divider marking for traffic calming purposes.

I know that road design varies over the world and even, to a certain extent, within different states in the United States. So this discussion is showing different regional points of view. A typical, or to borrow the UK slang  “bog standard”, American suburban residential street is wide enough for parallel parking on each side and space for trucks/lorries to get past one another [1]. Typical parking lanes are about 8 feet (2.4 meters) and a typical traffic lane is 12 feet (3.7 meters). So a total pavement width is typically around 40 feet (12.2 meters). In some parts of the world, even in older crowded US cities, a road of that width might be striped for four lanes of traffic. But a typical US residential street has no lane markings.

I can see the logic of only using the lanes tag if there is paint on the pavement. But that leads to another issue: It is pretty easy from experience to glance at a photo of a road and say it is wide enough for two lanes of traffic. But it is much harder for me to determine a width accurate to a couple of feet. I don’t see a way to show a measurement error estimate [2] and listing something as width=40'0" implies much more accuracy than a guess based on a quick visual survey or imagery actually provides.

I am rambling. To the point, if I were to add my photo [1] to the urban highway tagging examples page of the wiki [3] what tags should it have. My current guess is:


For the specific example given by the photo, what tags would you suggest.


[1] https://www.dropbox.com/s/1g3vt0egw4ntg7q/2018_0523_072821_908_173.jpg?dl=0
[2] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Map_Features/Units
[3] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Highway_tagging_samples/urban
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