[OSM-talk] Unsealed footways/cycleways/paths and rendering

Greg Troxel gdt at ir.bbn.com
Wed Jul 1 12:14:01 UTC 2015

Fernando Trebien <fernando.trebien at gmail.com> writes:

> Do you think it is necessary, for the general user, to visually
> distinguish unsealed (unpaved/poor surface) footways/cycleways/paths
> from those that are sealed? This has been raised in an issue related
> to unsealed roads (with focus on motorized traffic) [1].

Necesssary is a strong word, since this is really a question of map
design rather than tagging, and different renderings are useful for
different people.  In particular, maps rendered for places where
absolutely everything like a path is paved or very well compacted (NYC?)
and for places where nothing is paved probably don't.  But for places
with a mix (certainly around me is like that) clues to the surface are
really useful.

That said, I think surface being paved or not is very important on maps,
and I almost always want to see it.   The default style doesn't show
this, I think on the theory that it's clutter, but I think it's far more
important than other things that are shown, for many users.

> Unsealed roads will probably get a visual hint when they contain on of
> the following tags (please discuss them here or in the appropriate
> list [2], not in the issue tracker):

Are you thinking of dashed casing for roads, and what about
track/footway?  Or is this just a discussion about what to hint, and
there's a separate thread about how?

> tracktype=grade2/grade3/grade4/grade5
> smoothness=bad/very_bad/horrible/very_horrible/impassable
> surface=ground/dirt/earth/sand/grass

That seems more or less reasonable, except that I'm not sure how
smoothness fits.  Reading the page, smoothness=bad is passable by a
normal car but not a sports car, so that's actually worse than a decent
dirt road.  So sorting smoothness=bad and below into the "unpaved"
bucket seems fair.

> For typical pedestrians and cyclists, some of these conditions might
> be ok. Not so much for wheelchair users, seniors, or people who don't
> want to get dirty when it rains. :P

This leads to wanting

  specific renders for different kinds of vehicles and users

  routing engines that assign weights to these classes based on user

But in the general case, distinguishing "paved" (and maybe "compacted
well enough that it is functionally like paved") from "not paved" seems
like a good dividing line that will be useful for many.

> [1] https://github.com/gravitystorm/openstreetmap-carto/issues/110#issuecomment-116883466
> [2] https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/tagging/2013-December/016007.html

Related to this is the highway=path and highway=footway mess.  I am in
favor of defining an equivalence so that highway=footway means exactly
"highway=path foot=designated", and tagging bicycle/horse explicitly.
Then comes the issues of rendering.  Right now in the default render,
highway=footway (or highway=path foot=designated) are a thinnish red
line (which I like, generally), and highway=path is a thicker line with
more visual weight, and black, which looks partially like a track.   But
I see no distinction between these other than it's known to be ok to
ride a bicyle on one, and unclear on the other.

So, I'd like to see a kind of line, perhaps like the path line, but with
colors red/blue/green alternating for the known allowed uses.  Arguably
with anything designated, others should default to no, and without, yes.
That would get rid of the big visual gap between path and footway.

A related issue is that non-car ways in areas without other ways
(multi-km trails in the woods) should have a method for being marked as
more important than a sidewalk-ish path in an urban area, and show up on
the map more prominently at smaller zoom scales.  Perhaps that is some
sort of ref or prominence marking for long distance vs main vs side
trails, and perhaps the hike/bike map already deals with that.  But on
the main render I find that trails in conservation land disappear before
I want them to.

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