[talk-au] Gravel roads surface tagging

Little Maps mapslittle at gmail.com
Sat Mar 6 11:11:28 UTC 2021

Hi Mateusz, thanks for your thoughts. This may be a matter of language rather than substance, but personally I recoil at your suggestion that any one tag, whether it is compacted or any other, is the “correct one” as you wrote on the wiki. Perhaps if you want to say, “most closely accords with the European description in the wiki” that might be ok, but “correct”, no way.

From discussions to date, it seems like railway ballast is not a common surface to drive / ride upon, no matter what one calls it. But these are the stats on surface = gravel, compacted and fine_gravel from a few countries around the world. ...

gravel.          27 K
fine_gravel.   < 1 K
compacted.   3 K

gravel.          55 K
fine_gravel.   10 K
compacted.  34 K

gravel.           25 K
fine_gravel.     4 K
compacted.   14 K

gravel.           188 K
fine_gravel.       4 K
compacted.    12 K

gravel.           137 K
fine_gravel.       3 K
compacted.       2 K

The numbers show that, either (1) an awful lot of roads are indeed made of railway ballast (and hence ‘gravel’ is indeed the ‘correct’ term for many of the world’s roads) or (2) most mappers across the world are using the tag ‘gravel’ to describe the roads they drive / ride on, regardless of the definition in the wiki. We have no way of ‘correcting’ these ‘wrong’ tags, short of starting again with a new system. Hence I’m curious at what stage one must acknowledge that the current definitions of gravel, compacted, fine_gravel simply do not apply to the way that world has been mapped in openstreetmap. Surely, it is somewhat pointless to claim that descriptions that are rarely used are ‘correct’ and the world is wrong?

Best wishes Ian

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