[talk-au] Paths in Illawarra Conservation Lands

Andrew Harvey andrew.harvey4 at gmail.com
Thu Sep 12 04:27:57 UTC 2019

On Wed, 11 Sep 2019 at 23:40, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:

> Hi,
> the DWG was drawn into an edit war regarding several paths that were
> mapped in this area:
> https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=16/-34.3740/150.8761
> The argument is about in how far the (largely north-south running) paths
> are "illegal" and whether they need to be removed from the map because
> they would lead to people trespassing.

> The argument is two-fold; part applies to the paths that are on private
> land where, I understand, it is the land owner's prerogative to allow or
> disallow whatever they want, and another part applies to the paths that
> run into NPWS managed conservation lands.
> These paths were originally tagged "foot=yes" and with no further access
> descriptions; one had an "mtb:scale" added.
> From reading the Illawara Escarpment Plan of Management
> (
> https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Parks-reserves-and-protected-areas/Parks-plans-of-management/illawarra-escarpment-state-conservation-area-plan-management-180505.pdf
> )
> I get the impression that mountainbiking on any paths not explicitly
> open for it is illegal. But what about walking - the plan says a lot
> about maintained walking tracks but it does *not* explicitly say that
> walking is limited to these.
> There's also a published "draft strategy" for mountain biking in the
> area, however I don't know in how far a draft strategy would influence
> the current legal situation.
> Anyway, for the time being I have added an access=no to the paths on
> private land because the landowner doesn't want people to use them and I
> guess it is their prerogative; and I've removed the explicit foot=yes on
> the other paths (becasue I'm not sure) and added a "bicycle=no" to close
> them for mountainbiking. My changeset:
> https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/74355243#map=16/-34.3750/150.8730
> I would however be grateful for any input from the Australian community
> on this matter.

I'll break it down into two issues, 1. mapping the paths, 2. setting the
access restrictions.

On the first issue, my stance is that mapping these trails is fair game,
regardless of the legal ownership of the land and/or any access
restrictions. If there is a path on the ground it should be in OSM's
database, and would be harmful to delete and any edits which outright
deleted paths which do exist on the ground just because of access or use
restrictions should be blocked/reverted.

We have suitable lifecycle tags
https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Lifecycle_prefix which can be added to
paths which have been abandoned and no longer in use but still have
evidence on the ground. Paths which have been used in the past but are now
closed for remediation back to natural bushland can and should be mapped as
abandoned: or demolished:. This is important information for researches and
the public to understand conservation and remediation efforts taking place.

On the second issue regarding access restrictions, if the NPWS puts up
signage restricting cycling then we can correctly mark this with
bicycle=no, this could be at the path level or on park wide signage. If
there is a private property no access sign, then that would be access=no.

It's always better to have this mapped based on confirmations on the
ground, and it appears in this case that the local mapper Zhent, has been
mapping based on local knowledge.

> I've also been told that NPWS were keenly looking to sue whoever
> publishes "illegal" trails or uploads them to OSM; in fact such a legal
> threat was the reason why DWG got involved in the first place.

Gosh that's a big claim, if either individual contributors or OSMF are
being threatened like that, can this be backed up with evidence so we as
the community know what's happening and determine what if any support can
be provided to those being threatened?
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