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Just joined today. I'm on the Alexandria, VA, USA Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee and a reference to a website (URL led me to OpenStreetMap as a place to enter data usable to cyclists/pedestrians in the Washington, DC metro area.

One of the giant strengths of a wiki is the possibility to present fine-grained info that official sources would fear to present--such as ways to get around (mostly on foot, sometimes by bike, rarely by vehicle with the exception of the wide open spaces).

The term of art for such unofficial ways is 'demand path'. One recognizes this usually be the fact that the path is made almost solely by the passage of many feet. In the US, they are very often found between one strip mall and the next, or between a cul-de-sac neighborhood and an adjacent shopping district. All the landowners in question mandate (through the streets they construct) access via the main road, but with large parking lots in front of the businesses and similar situations with the cul-de-sac neighborhoods, the walking distance is very often quadrupled--so people cut through.

Is there a tag like highway=demand_path, to show that 'There's a route here that everyone uses, but the jefes don't want to admit it and it might be closed without notice'?


Larry Huffman

asked 13 Aug '12, 00:36

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Larry Huffman
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In the UK we have some officially named permissive paths that the land owner allows the use of, but they can be closed if they wish. We also have paths that get used and tolerated by the land owner and if it can be proved that they have been in use twenty years they can be turned into "rights of way" by a court of law.

(13 Aug '12, 00:55) andy mackey

Re courts turning demand paths into rights of way. We have the same legal principle in the US--which is why some demand paths are closed by the landowners.

(13 Aug '12, 15:32) Larry Huffman

As already stated by Andy there is the permissive access tag which describes a way that is open for use, but this can change any time soon if the owner feels so. There is no separate highway= value because the highway key mainly describes the class and importance of the way, not a single property. The access key however is the right place to enter this type of information.

According to your text you might either want to use highway=path if the way is only suitable for pedestrians/cyclists or highway=track (ideally with a tracktype) if four-wheeled vehicles are able to drive on it.

To improve routing for pedestrians and bicyclists, you can add further tags like surface, smoothness, mtb:scale and sac_scale.

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answered 13 Aug '12, 05:57

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scai ♦
accept rate: 23%


The text says "a route that everyone uses, but the jefes don't want to admit it". "permissive" suggests "tolerated" which is not the case here.

(13 Aug '12, 12:46) Pieren

@Pieren It depends on the specific case I guess. He didn't state that using the way is forbidden. If this is the case, then it must be tagged with access=no (or access=private) of course.

(13 Aug '12, 13:22) scai ♦

I would also assume (yes?) that the determination here is mainly how the path--or surrounding area--is signed. A path marked with a "no trespassing" sign is one extreme case. An unofficial trail in, say, a National Forest is another. The latter, btw, are often called "use trails" by hikers in the Sierra. Many terms of art.

(13 Aug '12, 15:24) barte

I didn't know about the access tags, which is a good solution to the problem. I'll also probably be using the mtb scale tags on regular paved roads, unless the sac_scale tag is the same sort of thing. (Will investigate as soon as I post this.)

(13 Aug '12, 15:38) Larry Huffman

You can of course use both mtb:scale and sac_scale together, also on paved roads.

(13 Aug '12, 18:13) scai ♦
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question asked: 13 Aug '12, 00:36

question was seen: 3,950 times

last updated: 13 Aug '12, 22:14

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum