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

forster at ozonline.com.au forster at ozonline.com.au
Fri Oct 23 05:08:02 UTC 2020

Hi all

I am writing as someone who does voluntary work for a Parks Service. I  
have personal experience with the loop: people use a path because its  
mapped, the path is mapped because it exists because people use it....

It takes an enormous amount of work to repeatedly deconstruct a track,  
allowing time for it to grow over, to be able to remove it from OSM  
because it no longer exists.

OSM should address the issue of things that should not be mapped. The  
rule "if it exists map it" is valid in 99.999% of the cases but nearly  
all would agree that women's refuges should not be mapped. OSM should  
portray the world accurately but it should also try to do no harm.

I can think of a few cases where the land owner or manager might not  
want some features mapped. I am not saying we should not map them. I  
am saying that we need to have a mature discussion about why we choose  
to or not to map them:

* women's refuges
* country wide 'do not map' requests
* military bases
* private property
* national parks illegal tracks
* rock art
* endangered flora
* sacred sites
* everything I have forgotten

Another question is how to implement it. Would a 'please do not  
render' tag be of any use?


> 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
> applications.
> 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
> here.
> 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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