[Tagging] Classifying roads from Trunk to Tertiary and Unclassified

Martin Koppenhoefer dieterdreist at gmail.com
Mon Aug 12 14:29:21 UTC 2019

sent from a phone

> On 12. Aug 2019, at 15:36, Paul Allen <pla16021 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Where a country-wide classification exists, it is usual for this to be reflected in the
> numbering scheme and the signage.  

people are often writing about this, but from the German situation, where I have been digging deeper, I can tell you that there is not just one classification with numbering scheme (this is what everyone can easily see on the ground, but it only reflects who is in charge of maintenance, and not the standards of the road). The scheme that is the more interesting and more in line with osm highway classes are the parameters used to decide on the layout and design the highway. They are looking at the importance of the connection, the function and the context, the rules are more complex and cannot be seen on the ground in the form of signs or numbers. Unfortunately these technical standards are not even publicly available for free, you would have to pay in order to get them.

I would expect many countries having similarly different systems, the signposted system of numbered routes, and a more detailed, internal system which is about the importance, function and resulting design and layout of the road.

There are a lot of standards, plans, etc. and the process to build a new road is quite complex (because besides technical requirements it also has to deal with politics like people living along the new road, funding, changing priorities or majorities during the planning and construction process, etc.), a long list of somehow road related standards in Germany can be found here for reference, and while it is mostly about technical details, there are also some more general documents listed:

For the highway classes I would consider this the relevant standards/guidelines:

(~guidelines for integrated network design)

You can get a glimpse into the table of contents here: http://www.fgsv-verlag.de/catalog/_pdf-files/121.i.pdf

Just because you only see a simple system for road numbering on the ground (like motorway, national, regional, local) doesn’t mean your government doesn’t use much more complex mechanisms to plan, build and maintain roads and the road network.

Cheers Martin 
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