[talk-au] highway=track update

Little Maps mapslittle at gmail.com
Tue Feb 23 05:42:55 UTC 2021

 Hi Brian and co, in Victoria and southern NSW where I've edited a lot of
roads, highway=track is nearly totally confined to dirt roads in forested
areas, as described in the Aus tagging guidelines, viz: " highway=track
Gravel fire trails, forest drives, 4WD trails and similar roads. Gravel
roads connecting towns etc. should be tagged as appropriate (secondary,
tertiary or unclassified), along with the surface=unpaved or more specific
surface=* tag."

In your US-chat someone wrote, "...in the USA, "most" roads that "most"
people encounter (around here, in my experience, YMMV...) are
surface=paved. Gravel or dirt roads are certainly found, but they are less
and less common." By contrast, in regional Australia, most small roads are

In SE Australia, public roads in agricultural areas that are
unpaved/dirt/gravel/etc are usually tagged as highway=unclassified (or
tertiary etc), not highway=track. There are some exceptions in some small
regions (for example in the Rutherglen area in NE Victoria) where really
poor, rough 'double track' tracks on public road easements have
systematically been tagged with highway=track rather than
highway=unclassified. See here for example:
. However, this is not the norm in SE Australia and across the border in
southern NSW, this type of road is nearly always tagged as unclassified, as
it is elsewhere in Victoria. In SE Australia, my experience is that tracks
are tagged in the more traditional way, and not as has been done in the

If I could ask you a related question, what do you US mappers call
"gravel"? The approved OSM tag for surface=gravel
<https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:surface> refers to railway
ballast, not the fine crushed rock or natural surface that usually occurs
on unpaved roads in Australia. However we call the fine unpaved surface
"gravel" in common parlance, and many unpaved roads that don't constitute
gravel as described in the OSM wiki have been tagged as gravel here,
erroneously depending on your point of view. How do you use the
surface=gravel tag in the USA? Cheers Ian

On Tue, Feb 23, 2021 at 2:49 PM Brian M. Sperlongano <zelonewolf at gmail.com>

> Hello all,
> Recently, there was a discussion on the talk-us list regarding how we use
> the tag highway=track.  That discussion begins here:
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/talk-us/2021-February/020878.html
> During that discussion, someone suggested that Australian mappers may also
> be using the highway=track tag in a similar way to US mappers.  Hence this
> message :)
> I've recently made edits to the wiki page for highway=track describing how
> the tag is used in the USA:
> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:highway%3Dtrack#Usage_in_the_United_States
> If there is similarly a local variation in how this tag is used, I would
> encourage the Australian community to document their usage as well.
> Brian Sperlongano
> Rhode Island, USA
> _______________________________________________
> Talk-au mailing list
> Talk-au at openstreetmap.org
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk-au
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