[OSM-talk] Abandoned Rails

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemed.net
Mon Aug 24 11:54:56 UTC 2015

moltonel 3x Combo wrote:
> Remember that interpreting osm data is actually a lot of work. 
> Very few people have the manpower to verify what railroad=
> dismantled actually mean to decide wheter they want to use 
> or filter out that data. Most of them will just match railway=*, 
> plus perhaps some special cases for railway=rail and railway=
> subway. Now they're looking at historical data without even 
> knowing it. They are confused.

Please don't make stuff up.

cycle.travel's rendering is 1300 lines of CartoCSS, 1400 of .mml, 300 lines
of Lua preprocessing, and 350 lines of Ruby/PostGIS postprocessing.

Of this, the code required to show only operational railways is 100
characters - a rounding error. It's a detail in a 1400-character line of
.mml and it was copied directly from OSM-Bright, the base style used by
switch2osm. In other words, anyone setting up an OSM tileserver from the
canonical instructions already gets this for free.

There are plenty of issues with OSM railway tagging that make decent
rendering, routing and analysis hard. (railway=station covering both
mainline stations and preserved heritage attractions is the first that
springs to mind.) railway=dismantled is not one of them.

As to whether utterly dismantled railways belong in the OSM database, I
couldn't really care less. In terms of doctrine, they probably don't, though
let's not overstate the issue: I suspect more bytes have been spilled in
this thread than it would take to encode a dump of current
railway=dismantled in .pbf format. But Gregory, Greg and Jason have it
right. This is not about some precious notion of purity, it's about

Outside the two fundamentals of "openly licensed" and "crowdsourced", OSM is
characterised by its pragmatism. We do what works. What works is a community
of people who feel respected and empowered. And bearing in mind that we're
talking about the US here, we need all the community we can get.

Read Minh Nguyen's excellent new diary post
(http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/Minh%20Nguyen/diary/35646). Even in the
super-affluent, super-educated Bay Area, OSM is barely at the stage that
Europe reached five or more years ago. It is "an endless parade of outdated
street configurations, missing landmarks, test edits".

But, he notes, there is "plenty of rail and bike infrastructure".

This is what characterised OSM adoption here in Britain. The enthusiasts are
the first to "get it": the railfans, the cyclists. Widespread take-up comes
later, once the enthusiasts have built something good.

The last thing we want to do in the US is drive away the few enthusiasts we
currently have.


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