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

Adam Steer adam.d.steer at gmail.com
Fri Oct 23 14:00:06 UTC 2020

hey all

Very late to the conversation - and responding to concerns way back when
there were only a few replies - relating specifically to the AAWT and
similar 'untracked' areas, and veering a little onto the terrain of illicit
(or pseudo illicit) trails:

I back Phil and Tony's view here, because I think it is important to listen
to people who have experience with on ground management consequences
arising from lines on maps which maybe should not have been drawn.

I would prefer as a user of OSM and also someone who values unmapped
experiences to leave 'off track routes' unmapped. As well as conforming to
desirable local practice (for example avoiding development of future
management issues), it is respectful to the place and the intention of
encouraging an experience that is ever-more-rare. That last one is super
important for not just trails, but many things. Once a line is drawn on a
map, it tends to get used no matter what ethereal permissions are applied.
Many parks in Australia have not nearly enough people on the ground to 'be
gatekeepers' and it is up to the individual using the area to act within
the intention set by the land managers. So 'closed to you' or 'do not route
here' is often meaningless (or in the least confusing).

To say 'its just data/evidence' is to completely ignore the real world
impact of a (sometimes remote) decision - in this case an 'armchair mapper'
might create years of issues for on-ground managers, and erase an
experience which future travellers might wish to have - which is I think is
what Tony and Phil were getting at. It is also missing critical awareness
of how people behave on the ground - if a line exists in a map, people will
use it regardless of virtual signage.

...so like Phil and Tony, my preference would be to not map any kind of
route in an 'off track' area. Of course this means knowing where 'off track
areas' are... and constant curation.

Finally, as a one-time builder of informal tracks with an 'officially we
can't say yes but informally kinda but don't publicise anything and don't
get hurt' arrangement with the land manager, it would have been devastating
to a long term project should those trails have appeared on any map. 7
years later, it is an asset for a small town... but at the time, having
routes show up on a map of any kind would have killed it right there. I
give this example as another reason to not always map stuff because you see
it, and also that 'if trails are there, people will come'.

I guess take from that what you will - I hope it provides material for an
internal 'think a bit about the dogma of mapping all the things always' ;)


On Fri, 23 Oct 2020 at 13:20, Andrew Harvey <andrew.harvey4 at gmail.com>

> On Fri, 23 Oct 2020 at 19:21, <forster at ozonline.com.au> wrote:
>> Andrew
>> Thanks, I hadn't considered life cycle prefixes. There might be
>> problems with disused or abandoned if those reopening the trails
>> argued that they used the trail last week so it was neither disused
>> nor abandoned.
> I can see the issue, but still hopefully access=no indicating legal access
> should still be able to be used if it's clear enough that access is not
> permitted.
>> "illegal tracks", the ones I am thinking of are illegal in both their
>> construction and use, if I recollect correctly, the fine for
>> construction is much much bigger than use. Sorry if the description
>> has baggage or is misleading. Re access=no, if I recollect correctly
>> they still display in OSM, only slightly more red. You probably
>> wouldn't notice. I haven't checked data users such as Osmand and Strava.
> On Fri, 23 Oct 2020 at 20:43, Phil Wyatt <phil at wyatt-family.com> wrote:
>> An illegal track in a national park is likely to be one that is cut
>> without the authority of the managing agency. It’s a fairly regular
>> occurrence and often the start of increased impacts in ares that may be
>> reserved for conservation rather than recreation.
> Thanks for the explanation, I didn't think about unauthorised track
> construction, I had assumed these tracks simply formed over time by
> repeated use, which in itself wouldn't have been illegal unless the area
> was closed. Even then a track that was illegally constructed, wouldn't be
> illegal to use unless it was signposted as such.
> It's just after hearing park authorities raise concerns about us showing
> un-authorised tracks on OSM, my reaction is usually how are we or anyone
> supposed to know which tracks are authorised and which aren't unless there
> is signage to indicate that.
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