[Talk-us] Starting OSM Trail Map Initiative In US

Kevin Kenny kkenny2 at nycap.rr.com
Sun Jul 22 20:14:17 BST 2012

On 07/22/2012 10:19 AM, Fred Gifford wrote:
> It seems like the biggest concern people have expressed is the idea of
> doing some bulk loading of trails. I am with you on those concerns and
> think that the primary rule for bulk loading should be "first do no
> harm". Lots of people have made great edits and additions to OSM and
> you don't want to mess those up. That being said I live in Montana and
> that is primarily where I have been reviewing trail data. The vast
> majority of the trail data here came from Tiger bulk loads and is very
> incomplete and out of date. I know that there are trails data from the
> USFS, BLM, and various state agencies that are much better. I'm not
> suggesting those should just be dumped into OSM but I don't think they
> can be part of a strategy of significantly upgrading and extending
> what is there.

I agree 100%.  I have a good bit of data from New York State on trails
that is surely incomplete and imperfect but better than anything we
have in OSM.  I've not uploaded any of it because I've not convinced
myself that it's "doing no harm". But most of it would slot into areas
of the map that today are nearly blank.  I don't foresee any real
difficulties with conflation; the chief technical difficulty I'd
see is managing a repeat upload as the government files are updated.
(I still haven't opened discussions with the state agencies about
redistributing the data; there are some licensing hurdles to overcome.)

And the effort of doing the trail network without the help of the
government (essentially, it gets mapped by rangers carrying GPS as
they patrol) would be little short of heroic. One of the files that
I have describes over eight thousand miles of trail, some of which
is more than a day's walk from the nearest roadway. (The Adirondacks
have places that remote.)

> The other issue that was technical in nature that I have also been
> thinking about was mentioned by Brett and that is coding of trails for
> different uses. From what I can see this is pretty lacking and not
> very standardized and that really limits the usefulness of the data. I
> would really like to get a discussion going on this issue and hear
> peoples recommendations. My general thoughts are that it Brett's
> suggestion that there needs to be both classifications for activities
> and difficulty (or quality) is what is needed. I know that there are
> some classifications for activities but they don't seem to be widely
> used or very standardized. The other associated issue in my mind is a
> better trail head feature type.

The problem that I see with classifications for difficulty is that there
are few standards. Trails that are called 'moderate' or even 'easy'
in New Hampshire might be called 'strenuous' or 'difficult' in

For most of the trails that I have data on, I do have basic
regulatory information as well: "foot=yes horse=yes bicycle=yes
ski=yes atv=no snowmobile=no" or similar fields. For many of them,
I also have waymark information - either the principal blaze colour,
or else a description "red horizontal dash on white", "yellow triangle
on black", "blue disc", "green-and-white Finger Lakes Trail logo",
and so on, which should also be considered for a map.

How much does "trailhead" differ from "parking"? I've usually just
shown trailheads as parking areas - they usually have space for at
least a few cars.

Some features that I'd like to see some consensus on is "trail shelter/
lean-to," "register box," and a "perennial/seasonal" tag on springs.
Whenever the "shelter" topic has arisen, there seem to be people who
jump in rather confused by the difference between a trail shelter,
a picnic shelter, and a bus shelter. (Hint: I won't be arrested for
vagrancy if caught sleeping in the first.)
73 de ke9tv/2, Kevin

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