[Tagging] "width" on streets: Time for a recommendation

Taskar Center uwtcat at uw.edu
Thu Sep 17 00:35:39 UTC 2020


This is yet another example why "sticking" the sidewalks onto the highway (as a tag) rather than mapping them as separate ways is appearing to be less and less practical. Please see our sidewalk schema proposal from several years ago.

I think @Mark brings up really relevant width distinctions, and I believe that once we agree that sidewalks require their own geometry, we should have a similar discussion about the interpretation of width in the sidewalks context. 

I look at this issue from the perspective of routing. Routers are interested in functional width (which would be Mark's 'driven path' option). Even with the consideration of transiency of both of the last two of Mark's definitions, 'maintained' and 'driven path' width, this is a much better approximation for additional considerations than routing- it can be an indicator of traffic stress, it can provide information for the 'slow streets' movement, it can also provide a means of reconciling improper imports that labeled all roads as 'primary' when they should not. 

My last comment has to do with the separation of sidewalks from streets- in that in many locales the responsibility of street maintenance falls on a different entity than sidewalk maintenance (for example, in Seattle, the sidewalk is the responsibility of the homeowner, rather than the municipality who IS responsible for the street infrastructure). So it is actually advantageous to have these mapped as separate entities so we can keep track of infrastructure maintenance.

Best regards,


Sent from my mobile. Please excuse brevity and typos.
> On Wed, Sep 16, 2020 at 1:23 AM Supaplex <supaplex at riseup.net> wrote:
>> I expect the "width" of a way to be the actual width of the object it represents.
> It depends on how we define "highway" in the OSM sense. You could also assume that sidewalks etc. are "sticking" on the highway merely for pragmatic reasons. Depending on the point of view, sidewalks and highways represent different entities. (There is no law definition here, I only find a German court decision that deals with street widths and thus means the distance between the curbs, with carriageway and parked vehicles, so as definition 2 above.)
> But I agree that it would be better to always specify which width is meant exactly when mapping widths on streets (especially to use "width:carriageway" for the rating of traffic suitability). Nevertheless, a default, which meaning of "width" is meant without a prefix/suffix, would still be helpful. Fun Fact: On the wiki highway page - in contrast to what is discussed here - it says since 2012 that "width" means the width of the carriageway (but it does not look like this paragraph has ever been discussed): https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Highways#Surface.2C_width_and_lighting
> Alex
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