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

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemed.net
Mon Sep 1 15:27:27 UTC 2014

Mike N. wrote:
> To be honest, I don't really get the problem with excessive 
> 'residential', or what I'd do to fix it.   If I had to study the 
> roads where I live, a few would be upgraded to tertiary or 
> changed to unclassified, and all unnamed residential would 
> be changed to driveway, but the end result would have 
> very few changes

Wolfgang's right in that this is a rural problem, not a town problem. In
towns, 'highway=residential' was a good guess for the TIGER import script to
make. It just wasn't a good guess in rural areas.

How's this a problem? Well, let's say that I want to go for a bike ride
(which I do) but that I live in Oxford, Mississippi, rather than just
outside Oxford, England. I want to stay away from the main roads, because I
don't want to be run down. So, using OSM, I find this nice-looking area
nearby with a lot of roads through it.

Except I don't know if they're at all cyclable, or if I need to take the
bike with knobbly tyres, or even if they exist at all. OSM in the US just
isn't reliable to that level, whereas it is in Western Europe, and the
Australians are also working on the issue. But in the US, I couldn't use OSM
for planning a route by hand, let alone with a router, which would merrily
send me down the shortest highway=residential with no knowledge of whether
it's suitable or not.

Paul's link to the James Kim story is an example of when this absence of
knowledge (not via OSM, fortunately) went tragically wrong. I'm not
pretending that this is a "people might die" situation right now, but it's
something that needs to be fixed before OSM can be said to be
'navigation-ready' for consumers outside cities, large towns and interstate
highways. Happily, it's a lot easier and quicker to fix than the other big
gotcha (addressing) and I really hope we can get it fixed soon.


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