[Tagging] Reviving the path discussion - the increasing, importance of trails in OSM

Jarek Piórkowski jarek at piorkowski.ca
Tue Jun 2 23:40:15 UTC 2020

On Tue, 2 Jun 2020 at 10:52, Tod Fitch <tod at fitchfamily.org> wrote:
> On Jun 2, 2020, at 5:48 AM, Volker Schmidt <voschix at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Tue, 2 Jun 2020 at 09:04, Daniel Westergren <westis at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Right. But is there another way? Can we tag dirt paths/wilderness paths/forest paths/mountain paths with another main tag?

Certainly you can use highway=not_an_easy_walk (or a better
alternative). There's a post upthread (or in a similar thread
somewhere?) about an editor in a mountainous area explicitly changing
tagging away from highway=path to try to avoid casual hikers getting
in situations where they need rescue. You can use any tags you like in
OSM. The hard part is if you want to get consensus on what tags to

>> No you cannot inroduce another main tag, because of the existing stock of "path" 8.7 million and "track".(18.7 million). This would only add additional confusion with mappers and an enormous burden on renderers and routers
>>> Can we somehow "enforce" additional tags for physical characteristics that will tell what this path|footway|cycleway actually looks like?
>> We have no way to "enforce" anything in OSM. But, as we do have the necessary tags (maybe to many different ones, but they all are in use.and we need to reamin backaward compatible in view of the enourmous numbers). What we can do and need to do is to improve the description of the various existing tagging options in the wiki (without touching their definition)
> My translation of these two statements combined is roughy: “We can’t change any tagging”. I don’t find that helpful.

I find that realistic. Consider two big "let's fix up tagging for
this" initiatives in OSM: public_transport=* and healthcare=*.
Healthcare is only recently getting accepted and there is no consensus
to expand its use (see healthcare=pharmacy getting explicitly
_deprecated_), and public_transport=* is still not rendered on
osm-carto after almost a decade.

You can change tagging. But you can't force the rest of the OSM
ecosystem to start using your new tags.


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