[Tagging] Who has the last word over the access tag?

Niels Elgaard Larsen elgaard at agol.dk
Sun Apr 25 20:19:32 UTC 2021

Frederik Ramm:
> Hello,
> this is a fable built on a real-world case. Please don't guess what the real-world 
> case behind this is; it doesn't matter. Do me a favour and discuss the fable.

I think that you can find many examples of similar issues.

For example, with a few exceptions, the public have a right of access (on foot, 
wheelchair, etc) to all beaches. This includes the right to use paths on private 
property to access the beaches.

Some property owners do not like that at all and put up "no access" sign, fences, big 
rocks etc. Sometimes someone complains and the city will take legal action, but that 
can take years.

Often property owners use misleading signs.
E.g., "private road". Private ownership does not always imply private access.
Or "access only according to Nature protections law ยง22" (which allows access on foot 
for everyone).

IMHO if the law grants you access to use a path, it should not be access=private just 
because there is an illegal sign or a property owner shouting to get off his land.

But if there is an illegal fence, it should be mapped, because it does exist.
It is still not access=private because you do have a right to jump the fence if you 
can. I am not sure hot to tag that. Maybe smoothness=fences

> Let's assume you buy a large plot of land and a nice holiday home somewhere on a 
> pacific island. You travel there regularly and enjoy the beautiful landscaped garden. 
> You put up "Private property - no trespassing" signs and hire a couple of guards to 
> ensure nobody enters your property. Consequently the paths in your garden are mapped 
> in OSM as access=private.
> One day while you are in your home country there is a coup on the pacific island, and 
> the self-proclaimed island government nullifies all foreign land ownership. Your 
> guards go home and someone pulls out the "No trespassing" signs. Random people start 
> enjoying your garden and the local police are watching.
> Let's say this goes on for half a year. The island government has no international 
> backing but they control the island de-facto. You say that the property is still your 
> property no matter what the criminals of the island government say. You take out a 
> one-page ad in the island newspaper saying that the decrees of the island government 
> are null and void and that you will sue anyone who enters your property.
> Still, every day people are walking across your property and the police are waving 
> happily.
> Are the paths in your garden still access=private?
> Bye
> Frederik

Niels Elgaard Larsen

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