[Tagging] Mapping curb (kerb) lines as the home of curb, parking, etc information

Nick Bolten nbolten at gmail.com
Sun Mar 3 19:12:07 UTC 2019


A recent post on the Mapillary blog (
https://blog.mapillary.com/update/2019/02/12/potential-for-openstreetmap-to-seize-the-curb.html)
reminded me of my long-running wish to have more curb lines mapped, so I
wanted to get a discussion started to see what people think of mapping
curbs as ways.

The short version is this: if we put kerb=* on a line and call it its own
feature, what's the best tagging schema to use and what kind of additional
information is appropriate? Personally, I'd like to use (and recommend) the
existing kerb=* tags around blocks and potentially add parking information.

Potential mapping and data use cases:

- Public parking data: curbs are already marked with parking / stopping
information, and when motor vehicles stop at a curb they are meant to
follow the local regulations regarding access. Curbs seem like a natural
place to store this information: you can split the way whenever the parking
situation differs or where there are dedicated parking slots. It is
attractive to associate streets with parking information, but if one were
to split street ways whenever parking information changed, every city block
would become an incomprehensible, split-up mess.

- Streets as areas: there are a few schemas out there about mapping streets
and related features as areas, primarily for rendering purposes. Mapping
the curb is fully compatible with, and part of, these proposals, and could
provide a means of building up to fully mapping contiguous areas.

- Pedestrian crossings. I would be very excited to map out kerb=* ways
around every block I see, because it makes QA (and even safe,
semi-automated edits) for pedestrian accessibility so easy. All a validator
has to do is check that a highway=footway crosses a kerb=* way and lacks
its own kerb=* node. This is similar to the validators already used in JOSM
and iD that check for things like a footway or street intersecting a
building, reminding users to use covered=* or tunnel=*.

- Pedestrian islands. These are often just an assembly of raised curbs
intended to protect pedestrians that are doing a multi-part crossing of a
street or streets.

- Opportunity to merge with + simplify micromapped stairs: what are stairs
but a series of carefully-raised "curbs"? I've seen various proposals
regarding how one might map large, beautiful, public stairways. This is a
whole can of worms, but the information in describing a physical curb is
essentially the same as describing any 'stuff on the right is higher than
stuff on the left' interface.

Thoughts?
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