[Tagging] Proposed rewrite Of highway=track wiki page

Kevin Broderick ktb at kevinbroderick.com
Mon Mar 8 16:09:22 UTC 2021

I think it's worth noting that, at least as currently tagged, there are
more than a few tracks in rural portions of the U.S. that, while not
maintained for travel by sedan, are more a part of the road network than
the dead-end agricultural/forestry access roads that have been discussed
thus far.

In New England, a lot of them are old parts of the road network that are
not maintained to an auto-friendly level (if at all), yet may remain
travelable and in some cases are still public right-of-ways. E.g.
https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/19723462 — if you're on foot and wearing
muck boots, it's probably quicker to walk the track than to follow the
residential road out to the state highway and go all the way around to the
other side. Or https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/19724346, similar story,
although it's actually parallel to a well-maintained state highway. Both
are public right-of-ways, but neither is maintained at a level that is
going to make taking your rental car through a particularly great idea.

https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/288861133 is another good example; it's
decidedly a shorter route (in distance, not time) between Waitsfield Common
and Northfield than any of the modern roads, but it is no longer maintained
for automotive traffic nor a public right of way. I'm pretty sure that,
historically, it was a higher-level member of the road network.

Out west, a couple of examples where tracks are decidedly part of the road
network, but don't easily fit into other classifications:
https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/5424246 — largely a recreational route
for public-land access via ATV and 4x4 (or dirt bike), but a through route
https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/5425643 — roughly parallel to a state
highway, not particularly well-maintained (IIRC, this section isn't
sedan-friendly) but provides access to public (USFS) land as well as some
remote residential structures (possibly seasonal, not 100% sure if that
particular segment is plowed in winter or not, but I don't think it is)
The second (5425643 / Meeteetsee Trail) could arguably be a residential
road, but that doesn't seem to be its primary function in the road network,
plus the physical characteristics of a residential road generally allow for
UPS deliveries and such, which I don't think happen there (I believe you
*could* get a box van across it in the summer, as long as it hadn't rained
recently, but it wouldn't be quick).

I'm not sure what the best answer is, but I thought that having some more
corner-case examples to look at might inform the discussion.

On Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 9:49 AM Zeke Farwell <ezekielf at gmail.com> wrote:

> Interesting.  I am familiar with wide logging roads like the one shown
> here:
> https://puszcza-bialowieska.blogspot.com/2013/06/droga-browska-jak-autostrada.html
> I would not expect it to be tagged as 'track' though.  I would expect
> 'unclassified' because the wide logging roads I'm thinking of connect from
> the general road network to the narrower logging roads that I would expect
> to be tagged as 'track'.  In my mind the classification 'track' is a
> combination of function/purpose and physical characteristics.  A driveway
> to a house may match the physical description by looking like this
> tracktype grade3 example (
> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/File:Tracktype_grade3.jpg), but it
> does not match the functional description because it provides access to a
> full time residence.  A wide logging road matches the functional
> description by being primarily for logging, but does not meet the physical
> description because it is wide enough for two large vehicles to pass.
> Perhaps my mental model is too narrow though.  I will be interested to here
> more feedback on the subject.
> On Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 9:18 AM Mateusz Konieczny via Tagging <
> tagging at openstreetmap.org> wrote:
>> Mar 8, 2021, 15:00 by dieterdreist at gmail.com:
>> Am Mo., 8. März 2021 um 14:47 Uhr schrieb Mateusz Konieczny via Tagging <
>> tagging at openstreetmap.org>:
>> In this specific case it was clearly highway=track as it was
>> - used by vehicles solely and only for logging forest (and by tourists as
>> annoying connecting segment)
>> not accurate according to your description below (access to sawmill)
>> It was not between general road network and sawmill, it was
>> between forest and sawmill, branching later into smaller and more
>> standard highway=track
>> that branched into even smaller ones and terminated in a forest.
>> And to clarify tourists parts - they were on foot, maybe some using
>> bicycles.
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Kevin Broderick
ktb at kevinbroderick.com
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