[talk-au] Mapping "off track" hiking routes

Andrew Harvey andrew.harvey4 at gmail.com
Fri Oct 23 03:30:50 UTC 2020

On Thu, 22 Oct 2020 at 19:39, Phil Wyatt <phil at wyatt-family.com> wrote:

> Personally, as an ex Parks Track Management Officer, I have actively
> removed unformed, off track tracks from OSM. There are frequently
> management plans for such areas where active promotion of the “tracks” is
> discouraged and book authors are also encouraged to not mark the track in
> their guide books.
> It’s about ensuring that such off track opportunities are available in the
> future and that there is no “invitation”, and to ensure levels of use that
> prevent major impacts.

Whenever I approach this topic, I always keep in mind that OSM should be an
accurate representation of what's on the ground whether we like it or not,
from there it can then serve a range of different downstream users and

>From a management perspective knowing where informal tracks have formed
could be useful. The fact that park managers would already know this
without OSM and maintain it outside of OSM isn't good enough for me, OSM is
transparent and democratic, a park managers internal GIS isn't (and that's
okay, both databases have their place).

Adding a track onto the map isn't saying you legally can use it or it's
officially sanctioned, it's just saying there is evidence of a worn path

So we want to,
1. Do what we can to tag and record the data in OSM more accurately to
distinguish unsactioned tracks. We have a few tags already:

- foot=designated (explicitly signposted or marked as for walkers)
- foot=yes (not explicitly signposted for walkers, but can be used)
- foot=no (signposted as not allowed to walk or physical access blocking)
- informal=yes (created informally, not by an an official body)

This is hard when a track is not signosted, or there are no signposted park
wide rules.

It's tricky because on one hand marking these as informal=yes and then not
rendering informal=yes would cut out a lot of tracks which are informal,
but get a lot of use and generally there no issue with using it, so I still
don't think this is a solved problem.
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