[Talk-us] Rural US: Correcting Original TIGER Imported Ways

Kevin Broderick ktb at kevinbroderick.com
Mon Feb 12 17:55:10 UTC 2018

Please, please, please don't convert rural roads to tracks based on imagery
alone unless it's incredibly clear (and that would exclude anything with
forest cover).

While many of them should definitely be unclassified, not residential,
downgrading the main rural routes to tracks doesn't match local usage nor
the functional topology of the road network in such places. There are a lot
of USFS and BLM roads around here that are the only way to access
significant areas, that commonly see normal passenger-car traffic and that
can be traveled at reasonable speed in a sedan (or at 30+ MPH with a little
ground clearance and driving skill),. Having these differentiated from true
tracks (where even a stock 4x4 is likely going to be operating at 15 MPH or
less) is incredibly helpful for routing and visual use of the map, and it's
a lot easier to recognize what I'd call "areas of questionable data" when
they haven't been aggressively armchair-mapped. Also, the smoothness key is
really helpful for tracks and impossible to map from orthoimagery.

Even with local knowledge, it's tough to look at some of the local unpaved
roads on imagery and identify which sections are car-friendly and which
aren't (and it's often different for different sections of the same road,
e.g. Crooked Creek Rd. that goes from Carbon County, Wyoming into Carbon
County, Montana in the Pryor Mountains is arguably a track where it's on
BLM land and is definitively a good gravel road through USFS land). Most of
the rest of the roads in the Pryors are either questionable on the track vs
road border or very clearly tracks. Right now, many are still labeled as
roads, which is obviously wrong, but downgrading piecemeal without being
able to correctly classify the whole area makes it much harder to glance at
the GPS screen and say, "OK, I need to take this with a shaker of salt,
there's no way there are that many good roads in there"; downgrading some
but not all would give a false impression of data precision.

Yes, it's unfortunate when people decide to blindly follow their GPS or
online mapping route without applying common sense, but it's better to have
data that is obviously low-precision (at least to anyone used to traveling
in such areas) instead of giving the false impression of higher precision
than is actually present. It's also misleading if the whole road is marked
as a track when several (or more) miles are maintained gravel and it then
turns into a 4x4 track, as someone can easily start driving up the
maintained gravel, think "Oh, this is what they mean by track—I can drive
this, no problem" and then end up way up an effective dead end that
connects through only on a dirt bike, ATV, or 4x4.

I'd agree 100% that it would be great to have more mappers in rural areas,
and I wish I had the time to deal with the data s***show in some of the
more-remote places around here. I've updated a few things that I've driven
and could remember how good (or bad) the road was, but unless I remember to
take georeferenced photos or notes, it can be really hard to remember what
was passenger-car friendly vs. what was something that I'd prefer to ride
along in someone else's Subaru for. The problem isn't unique to OSM; none
of the printed maps I've found are particularly great on the same roads
(including both Delorme Gazetteers and Benchmark Atlases).

On Mon, Feb 12, 2018 at 8:46 AM, Clifford Snow <clifford at snowandsnow.us>

> How many of the TIGER imported streets are still untouched? Looking at
> typical urban area with a high number of OSM contributors the your answer
> might be very few. Seattle for example only has one street left, and
> unnamed street in the far south of Seattle. King County, just under 6,000
> sq km, has 292 untouched ways. Extrapolating the results to Washington
> State, with 39 counties, you expect to see somewhere around 11,000
> untouched ways. It's almost three times that number.
> Washington State today has over 30,000 untouched highway=residential, far
> more than what you would might expect from looking at King County. Many of
> the untouched ways are located in areas known for timber harvest, most
> likely forest service roads (at best highway=unclassified, or
> highway=tracks, or not even there) and many others are service roads to
> farms and homes.
> Because King County has by far the largest population of active mappers,
> it has touched just about every street in the county. Even the more remote
> areas of eastern King County which is popular with hikers.
> Utah, a far less populated state has over 7,500 untouched ways. (But an
> absolutely gorgeous state, second only to Washington State 😀)
> Western states may be more susceptible because of the number of forest
> service roads. All states likely have the problem of ways classified as
> residential when they should be service roads.
> Martijn van Exel and I have created a couple of Maproulette tasks to fix
> these ways. It's dangerous to leave them. Having a way classified as
> residential when they are likely 4WD tracks in the mountain isn't safe. We
> don't want some unsuspecting family out on a Sunday drive to get stranded.
> If you do work on the tasks be careful not to just delete ways in the
> forest as I was reminded recently. They may be used by hikers and hunters.
> Correct the highway classification and align the with the imagery. Consider
> using Strava heatmaps to assist tracing the ways.
> If you want to help out, jump on one of the tasks below.
> Utah: http://maproulette.org/mr3/challenge/2867 (Your chance to try the
> beta version of Maproulette 3)
> Washington: http://maproulette.org/map/2871 (It doesn't show up when
> searching for challenges for reasons that I can't explain)
> Does your state have a problem? Run the following overpass query to find
> out:
> https://overpass-turbo.eu/s/w74 - just replace "Washington"  Need help
> creating a Maproulette Challenge - just ask.
> There is one other way to help in a big way. Recruit mappers in rural
> areas. Have recommendations on who to target and how to get in touch -
> share them. Have some success stories, tell us how you accomplished it.
> Best,
> Clifford
> --
> @osm_seattle
> osm_seattle.snowandsnow.us
> OpenStreetMap: Maps with a human touch
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Kevin Broderick
ktb at kevinbroderick.com
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