[Tagging] Help explain the difference between path and track

Peter Elderson pelderson at gmail.com
Tue Jun 9 22:48:17 UTC 2020

The dictionary doesn't help much: track:  "a path
<https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/path> or rough
<https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/rough> road
<https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/road> that is made of
soil <https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/soil> rather
<https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/rather> than having a
surface <https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/surface>
covered <https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/cover> with
stone <https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/stone> or other
material <https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/material>"

a route or track between one place and another, or the direction in which
something is moving:
a garden path
a concrete path
a well-trodden path
This is the path to the cliffs.
It will be several days before snowploughs clear a path (through) to the
They followed the path until they came to a gate.

So this
be a track. It must be a path.

Best, Peter Elderson

Op wo 10 jun. 2020 om 00:13 schreef Tod Fitch <tod at fitchfamily.org>:

> On Jun 9, 2020, at 2:22 PM, Mike Thompson <miketho16 at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 9, 2020 at 3:02 PM brad <bradhaack at fastmail.com> wrote:
>> A track does have a different function, it can handle a 2 track vehicle,
>> a path can't.
> Yes, a "track" has a different function, its function is for agriculture
> or forestry.
> A wide path on the other hand has the same function as a narrow path.
>> If functional is sacrosanct,  why do we have motorway?   A motorway could
>> just be a trunk or primary with extra tags denoting limited access.
> That is a good question.  But it was stated on this list just a couple of
> weeks ago that the highway=* tag was a functional classification, "except
> for motorway"....
> In my rendering of hiking maps I currently have to look at 13 tags and
> their values to make a decision if a “path” or “footway” might be what I
> want to render. This is ridiculous. It is neither easy for the mapper nor
> the renderer.
> On the motor vehicle side this would be the equivalent of saying all ways
> intended for cars should be mapped as highway=road and we can distinguish
> them by using surface, width, smoothness, maximum speed, etc.
> I think we need some more values for the highway tag that would allow a
> mapper to easily tag:
> 1) A narrow rural trail where you probably want good footwear and are
> likely to take a small pack with water, snacks, etc.
> 2) A smooth hard surfaced walk, usually in or near urban/suburban areas)
> suitable for pushing a stroller.
> 3) A wide fairly smooth way (usually in or near urban/suburban areas)
> designed for getting exercise. Probably not paved, but with a natural
> appearing surface that is maintained to be fairly smooth.
> In my part of the world many of those things are general purpose (mixed
> foot and bicycle use and often horses). Mappers end up using highway tag
> values of path, footway, track, and, rarely, cycleway or bridlepath. If we
> are lucky they might put a surface tag or some access tags on it. It is a
> mess. Hard for a beginning mapper to decide what tags to use. Hard for a
> data consumer to figure out what the mapper was trying to map.
> The two major factions seem to be set in their ways: “It is only a track
> if it is used for agriculture or forestry” on one side. “It has the same
> physical characteristics as a track, so it is a track even if it is
> currently used for hiking, bicycling, riding horses, or by ATVs” on the
> other side.
> That also spills into is it a track or a service (driveway)? Depends on if
> it goes to a barn or a house! But I can’t tell without trespassing, how can
> I map it?
> First step, I think, is to be less pedantic about function on things that
> look exactly like a track. Mappers in all the areas I’ve looked at will tag
> a way that is unpaved and about the width of a four wheeled vehicle as a
> track regardless of current use. Maybe it is being used as a driveway.
> Maybe it is being used as a bicycling/hiking/equestrian trail. Maybe it
> accesses a field. Maybe it hasn’t been used for a while and just hasn’t
> decayed or been overgrown into nothing. Who knows? But it looks like a
> track. Saying that the way “isn’t for forestry or agricultural use” so it
> can’t be a track is worthless: Real world mappers have voted otherwise with
> their tagging.
> Cheers!
> Tod
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