[Tagging] Help explain the difference between path and track

Alan Mackie aamackie at gmail.com
Thu Jun 11 09:52:31 UTC 2020

On Thu, 11 Jun 2020 at 04:25, Graeme Fitzpatrick <graemefitz1 at gmail.com>

> On Thu, 11 Jun 2020 at 11:31, Paul Allen <pla16021 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Thu, 11 Jun 2020 at 02:10, Mike Thompson <miketho16 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> I don't think anyone is saying that tracks can't have additional uses,
>>> just that one of those uses has to be forestry, agriculture (and maybe
>>> mineral extraction/energy).
>> They HAVE to have one of those uses?  Really?  No exceptions.
> Sorry, I could probably worded that better, but a number of our tracks
> follow power line / gas pipeline easements, but are open to the public to
> use.
> Others branch off from a road, through the bush down to a fishing /
> swimming spot on the creek / river / dam.
> Others cross through private property, but are an accepted way to get from
> here to there, & are in some cases even named, despite being 4wd only &
> track type 3 - 5!
> I suppose "farm" tracks that go around the various paddocks on a property
> could be called agricultural, but they are usually just a means of getting
> to those areas, & are frequently open to the public on a "permissive" basis.
> So I'm sorry, but I have to emphasise that all tracks are not for forestry
> or agricultural use only.
> +10

I grew up in an area with little to no agriculture and where the logging
dried up decades ago, but it still has tracks. They aren't just leftovers.

FWIW my go-to online dictionary defines [1] a track as:

> 1. A rough path or road, typically one beaten by use rather than
> constructed.
> *‘follow the track to the farm’*
> 1.1  A prepared course or circuit for athletes, horses, motor vehicles,
> bicycles, or dogs to race on.
> *‘a Formula One Grand Prix track’*
> 1.2  mass noun The sport of running on a track.
> *‘the four running disciplines of track, road, country, and fell’*

(Before quickly diverging into entirely non-transport related items)

As they claim to be "powered by Oxford" and giving a UK dictionary I think
it's fair to say this definition is for British English.

I really don't understand the OSM community's fondness for elevating
agriculture and forestry above all else for this tag, but if we want to
exclude things that are clearly tracks from our highway=track definition,
please suggest an alternate road classification we can use for:
Ways for two track vehicles that

   1. tend to go around rather than through obstacles
   2. are minimally improved as the need arises
   3. aren't proper service roads
   4. don't form a proper part of the road network
   5. in many cases you'd be wary of using for low clearance vehicles.

 I think most people would take one look at them and say "that's a track",
and barring evidence that would lead to 'service=driveway', I would tend to

Remember that in much of the world we haven't been maintaining these ways
for the last thousand years as countries have risen and fallen and haven't
yet fully integrated every possible route into the proper road network. I
do not want to find myself in a situation where the average router tries to
send me down vastly inferior ways because OSM refuses to call these what
they are.

[1]: https://www.lexico.com/definition/track
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