[Talk-us] Dirt Roads (formerly: Abandoned railway)

Russell Deffner russell.deffner at hotosm.org
Sat Aug 30 19:46:12 UTC 2014

Well, the road your referring to sounds like a track, if it has no other significant use than a beautiful and adventurous way to travel between the two towns.  However, the road I live on is well maintained (graded, plowed in winter, etc. – FYI I drive a Nissan Maxima/low clearance 2WD) but basically has only one function – to get to the residences along it – which fits residential much more than track.  I think this is a case where there is not a one size fits all for road classification, in my opinion my local knowledge suggests there is a big difference between the residential dirt road I live on and the (typically 4X4) tracks that are in the area.


From: Paul Johnson [mailto:baloo at ursamundi.org] 
Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2014 1:29 PM
To: Russell Deffner
Cc: Mike N; OpenStreetMap talk-us list
Subject: Re: [Talk-us] Abandoned railway


What about track grade?  Seems like we've got this whole "unpaved" situation solved with track.  I mean, you can get from Telluride to Lake City in ~35 miles, but I wouldn't consider that a viable option to anybody who isn't adventurous.



On Sat, Aug 30, 2014 at 2:15 PM, Russell Deffner <russell.deffner at hotosm.org> wrote:

One good reason to tag a dirt road different than a track is it’s utility.  I happen to live on a dirt road in rural Colorado with about a thousand neighbors, there are 2 paved roads in our neighborhood, however the remaining 3 or 4 dozen are properly tagged residential, i.e. residential dirt roads.  There are real tracks around here as well and if all dirt roads were converted to track then the map would be seriously degraded in usefulness.


Russell Deffner


From: Paul Johnson [mailto:baloo at ursamundi.org] 
Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2014 1:00 PM
To: Mike N
Cc: OpenStreetMap talk-us list

Subject: Re: [Talk-us] Abandoned railway



On Sat, Aug 30, 2014 at 6:28 AM, Mike N <niceman at att.net> wrote:

 Landing on the high plains desert in the west does not make a good case that OSM in the US is broken.  Desert imagery cues do not match those of conventional climates.   Those roads likely do exist, but are barely visible in contrast to the surroundings.  We city-folk would classify them as tracks, but a desert prospector or park ranger would consider them secondary.

NO!  We would still classify them as tracks!  Because there's no good reason to classify them as more major, given consistency.  We're trying to not break the routers, after all.  Yes, I realize that the vast majority of county roads are not paved in my region.  But to classify them as more major is a sickening choice, and would actually make OSM much worse than Yahoo Maps, given the situation that actually killed a Yahoo founder.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Kim


Just because it's a county road doesn't stop it from being a track.  It might be a grade1 track, but that's still a track.  Even on the most major tracks, even if they're capable of letting you hit the default speed limit in most counties (45 mph), I'd still consider them a track.  Mostly because if it's not paved at all, there's a good chance that 1) it floods regularly, 2) it's not always the grade reported in OSM and therefore not always possible in all vehicles, and 3) completely irresponsible to represent them as something people unfamiliar are going to want to take.  My comfort level in taking a Chevy Malibu over dozens of miles of county track, even if it's the shortest or fastest way, is going to be completely different from someone unfamiliar with the territory, and unfamiliar with the map's foibles in the region.


At least in North America, I'm willing to go so far as to say as tagging any unpaved road as anything higher than track is Considered Harmful.


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