[Tagging] Proposed rewrite Of highway=track wiki page - Third Draft

Bert -Araali- Van Opstal bert.araali.afritastic at gmail.com
Sat Apr 10 14:01:57 UTC 2021

I first of all want to thank Zeke for doing a great job here, this is a 
major step forward in the "track" definition.
It is not perfect, as it will probably never be, we will always have 
different interpretations and grey zones,.

I do think we have a good basis here for future extension and 
improvements and, to add examples to clarify or narrow the grey zones.

Reviewing the comments so far, most discussion seems to arise on two 
issues, where at this stage I think we could narrow by providing more 
context in the definition.
The context becomes clear during these discussions, but many times lost 
when a proposal gets approved, not commonly accessed by the average 
mapper on history or discussion pages.
However, we should avoid becoming to complex, make it understandable for 
the average mapper.

> The tag highway 
> <https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:highway>=track 
> <https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:highway%3Dtrack> is used for 
> minor land access roads that are not considered part of the regular 
> road network.
1. "Minor" or "Low importance" (suggested as alternative): is 
interpreted in regard to use frequency or throughput, is interpreted in 
an economical context (permanent or temporary).
In regard to physical appearance or throughput, a track can be seen as 
"not minor", it just depends what reference infrastructure you have in 
mind, which differs largely across the world. What is interpreted as 
"minor" in Western countries is regarded as a "major" in countries with 
less developed infrastructure.
It seems however that to everyone it is clear that minor or low 
importance is not to be regarded in a social context or importance.
So could adding the context as "of minor social importance" resolve, or 
narrow the grey zone ? So a track can be of major economic importance, 
temporary or permanent, as given in some of the logging examples. Of 
major importance as for emergency services.
However, none of them, no track has a major social importance.

2. not considered part of the regular road network: also here, depending 
on the regional context, what is to be regarded as the "regular road 
network". I think we can improve this by just adding some context.
Regular road network could be improved by saying "local regular road 
network", adding the local context forces the mapper to always observe 
it with a reference how the LOCAL road network is developed and used.
I would also add the term public here, so we get "not considered part of 
the LOCAL, regular PUBLIC road network".
Is this an improvement, I think it is, it keeps it open to use tracks 
both for private as public use, or ownership. It guides the mapper to 
think for alternatives, as with the highway=service tagged roads (like 
the arterial forestry roads example), to upgrade a track to a service 
road when used in a private context. It does discourage upgrading tracks 
to all the highway classes that are by definition part of the "public" 
road network.

Finally I would suggest one improvement in one of the examples:

> A minor road providing primary access to a commercial or industrial 
> facility. See highway 
> <https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:highway>=service 
> <https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:highway%3Dservice>.
I would add agricultural faculties here. Many agricultural farms or 
developments have developed significant permanent infrastructure and 
roads or tracks to access it. Developed in more industrial like activities.
Notice the intended use of infrastructure, which makes it 
distinguishable from agricultural land. Also I would avoid to use the 
word minor here.
So the example would become:

"A road providing primary access to a commercial, industrial or 
agricultural facility or infrastructure". See highway 


Bert Araali

On 07/04/2021 18:01, Zeke Farwell wrote:
> All good points raised.  Let me just provide some context for why I 
> chose certain phrases.
> In an earlier draft I used the phrase "minor land access roads".  I 
> received feedback that the word minor may not be clear enough when 
> translated into other languages so I changed it to "low importance 
> land access roads".  "low usage" could also work but I think "minor" 
> or "low importance" is preferable.  It really is about the relative 
> importance in the road network in the same way we decide if 
> unclassified, tertiary, secondary, etc is appropriate.  track is of 
> lower importance to the network than these other classifications.
> Re: "regular road network".  This is indeed vague, but it does seem to 
> be a concept that many mappers have in their minds.  I received 
> feedback stating that track roads are something less than a regular 
> road, not part of the public network, and various other statements to 
> that effect.  It sounds like in Germany there is even a legal 
> distinction between "roads" (Straße) and "ways" (Wege). In other 
> countries it seems to be more of a general idea separating "roads 
> everyone uses" from "ways that aren't quite roads but some motor 
> vehicles use".  Perhaps there is a better way to phrase it, but I 
> think this additional qualification beyond simply "land access roads" 
> is useful.  There are roads in remote areas of North America that 
> could easily be considered "land access roads" because there is 
> nothing but open land around them, but track is not the appropriate 
> classification as they do serve as a connection between very distant 
> towns.
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