[Talk-GB] Guidance for adding PRoW to OSM

SomeoneElse lists at mail.atownsend.org.uk
Mon Dec 31 12:22:21 GMT 2012

Steven Horner wrote:
> I have added several footpaths locally but I am often left wondering 
> how to tag these or how to break them into sections. I have followed 
> the guidelines at 
> http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_Tagging_Guidelines but 
> should I tag the footpath with the local authority reference which 
> would aid logging the path to the Council if problems like FixMyPaths 
> <http://www.free-map.org.uk/hampshire/>, if so how?

First things first, I'd definitely go out and survey them.  The OS 
hasn't surveyed these paths (if at all) for years, and important details 
such as the path surface and which side of a hedge it runs often aren't 
recorded.  That'll create a series of ways within OSM, broken up by e.g. 
surface changes and whenever there's a bridge. I'd also add 
"designation=public_footpath", of course.

Previously I would have taken that designation to mean "Someone has been 
there and can verify that there is a public footpath sign", although if 
people are going to import footpath information from councils without 
survey then perhaps we all ought to be adding "source:designation" as well?

Personally I'm not convinced by adding reference numbers that don't 
exist on any signs (some, but very few, authorities put them there).  If 
you can't refer to it anywhere, it's not exactly a reference number, is it*?

I notice in taginfo that there are 10 "footpath_ref" and 2 
"source:footpath_ref" already.  Perhaps something would that would do?  
Personnaly, if I was going to add "footpath_ref" I'd definitely add 
"source:footpath_ref" to make it clear where it came from.

> The other question is do I add the footpath exactly as the Council & 
> Ordnance Survey have recorded it or amend it, if I know it is 
> incorrect on the ground. Currently I have added it as per my own GPX 
> tracks and local knowledge which is more accurate, but officially the 
> PRoW isn't recorded as I have added it to OSM. Do I continue as I 
> have, add both tagged differently or some other way?

I'd definitely tag what's on the ground.  If there's a path that people 
use, add that as highway=footway (or whatever).  If there's a public 
footpath sign pointing down it, add "designation=public_footpath".

If the "public footpath" sign points in a different direction to the 
path that everyone uses, I'd tag both.  Here's one I found in 


If the local authority or the OS have some path route that isn't marked 
on the ground, I personnally probably wouldn't bother adding it, since 
it doesn't actually exist.

> Finally should I split the path I have added if it is recorded as 
> two separate paths on the definitive maps. I'm sure this must of been 
> discussed somewhere before and I have missed it?

If you use something like "footpath_ref" then you'll have to do this, 
but of course you'll probably split into much smaller segments anyway 
when you take into account surface changes, bridges, etc.


* I have exactly the same issue with people adding reference numbers 
(from who knows where) to C roads.  The only effect surely is to confuse 
foreign visitors.

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