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Let's assume you have a highway=service (alleyway/driveway) on private property in an urban area, with no signs restricting access. The local laws say that you can't cut through a corner parking lot to avoid an intersection, but nothing about using a longer such road as a mid-block connection. So how would the following examples be tagged?

  1. Like a public alley, it connects two adjacent streets between buildings, and is commonly used by pedestrians and less often by motor vehicles. It is always de facto open to the public; there are no gates or fences.
  2. A gate at one end is normally closed, making it a dead end most of the time for vehicles and pedestrians.
  3. In a less urban setting, a big company headquarters has a major entrance from public roads. It is not clear from said roads where the entrance leads, since it looks like another public road, but once you get onto their property, you have to turn off before the gate and take a separate roadway out if you don't have business there. Obviously the road through and beyond the gate is access=private, but what about the public "oops" exit?

asked 13 Jul '10, 02:19

NE2's gravatar image

accept rate: 9%

edited 13 Jul '10, 09:57

randomjunk's gravatar image



This is phrased as a thought experiment, it's probably best to stick to actual problems. This would allow you to provide additional information such as a real-life location, on-the-ground photos etc so that people can give accurate answers.

(13 Jul '10, 10:00) Andy Allan

  1. highway=service, service=alley, foot=yes. That should be understood by renderers and routing engines just fine. You may want more specific access tags but that will depend on the case I guess.
  2. Add a barrier=gate to the correct location. If it really is almost always closed then access=no would represent that.
  3. I would just tag the non-private way in the standard form with something like highway=unclassified.
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answered 13 Jul '10, 09:09

Matt%20Williams's gravatar image

Matt Williams
accept rate: 10%

I recommend to base the answer on the thought experiment: What would happen if 100 motorists were to suddenly use that road each day because the OSM routing engine told them that this is the shortest way to get somewhere?

Is it likely that such use will be tolerated? Then use access=permissive. Is it likely that such use will lead to formal signage banning motor vehicles? Then I'd use access=private. I would only ever use access=destination if there were clear signs or laws saying "no through traffic" or something like that.

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answered 13 Jul '10, 09:01

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%

I'm not sure if that's the best way of thinking about it. If a small village suddenly had thousands of trucks down their main street, they might think about banning trucks and making them use the bypass. That doesn't mean we should tag the main street hgv=no.

Anyway, would a routing engine really choose a service road over a parallel unclassified/residential street unless it's significantly shorter?

(13 Jul '10, 20:05) NE2

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question asked: 13 Jul '10, 02:19

question was seen: 16,551 times

last updated: 13 Jul '10, 20:10

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