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Hi Im stumbling over primary, secondary etc roads. Whats the rule or rules to determine a minor from a service road or a residential from a livingstreet ? Are there quarternary roads in OSM ? Just peel them of from the outside of the rural area or is it the other way around, building up from the inside out ?

asked 27 Aug '12, 00:37

Hendrikklaas's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

edited 27 Aug '12, 10:44

andy%20mackey's gravatar image

andy mackey

This is "slightly" different from country to country. A major road in the Amazon forest will look different than the M25 around London.

Since you are dutch: The Netherlands roads tagging

Tagging guidelines for other countries.

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answered 27 Aug '12, 01:00

cartinus's gravatar image

accept rate: 27%

edited 27 Aug '12, 11:44


Many people tag highways outside their living country (vacations, armchair, disaster mapping, etc). We should create a better link between these country specific documents in the wiki (NL road tagging, UK road tagging, US road tagging, DE, FR, etc) with e.g. a new category. My 2cents.

(27 Aug '12, 09:14) Pieren
(27 Aug '12, 19:34) malenki

OSM seems to display roads differently depending on class. Most back-country roads seem to be classed as Residential. That seems to me to violate what I gather is the rule of thumb here - don't map something incorrectly just so it shows up correctly. Classifying these roads as residential seems to violate this rule. These roads are miles and miles (kilometers and kilomenters) from the nearest residence, unless you count deer, bears, bobcats, etc.

So I chose secondary, but problem there is, that can kill folks. Matter of fact, a (city folk) guy died a few years ago on a nearby road (Bear Camp Road) after getting stuck in the snow. His wife and kids were rescued. His GPS drew the route that killed him.

Showing these roads as secondary is wrong, and I'll go back and change them. But it irks me no end to label a road as residential when the whole reason I go there is it is as far from residential as I can get.

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answered 25 Sep '12, 06:45

rbooth's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Then the classification in your area is incorrect and should be fixed. There are lots of different road classes, not just secondary and residential.

(25 Sep '12, 08:03) scai ♦

The "residential" thing in the US is simply because that was the default classification used when data was imported from the federal TIGER dataset. It's not the correct classification to use in unpopulated areas and you should change it whenever you encounter it.

(25 Sep '12, 09:32) Richard ♦

I checked your link, scai.

I found this for tertiary roads:

A "C" road in the UK. Generally for use on roads wider than 4 metres (13') in width, and for faster/wider minor roads that aren't A or B roads. In the UK, they tend to have dashed lines down the middle, whereas unclassified roads don't.

Ignoring the first sentence as UK-specific, the rest of the definition leaves out the roads I'm talking about. The ones I'm talking about are single-lane, mostly dirt, roads.

I didn't find anything describing what minor roads are supposed to be. I'm assuming they are a lower class than tertiary.

-- I have since found discussions on Wiki pages and such proposing that either quaternary or minor be used instead of unclassified. I'm guessing minor won. --

Maybe minor is the class I should use.

I appreciate the feedback both of you have given me. When I edit a map, I want my changes to be correct or to at least improve on what was there previously.

(25 Sep '12, 11:21) rbooth

Please do not create an answer every time, you are not responding to the original question and this is not a forum. If you have a separate question, create a new one.

(25 Sep '12, 11:55) scai ♦

If you're in the US, I'd read this wiki page and perhaps discuss on this mailing list.

Road tagging has to be country-specific to an extent. Something that in the UK would be tagged as "highway=track" might be tagged as an actual road (perhaps "highway=unclassified, surface=something descriptive" elsewhere).

(25 Sep '12, 12:04) SomeoneElse ♦

Don't use 'minor' or 'quaternary'. These are not used in OSM.

(25 Sep '12, 14:15) Richard ♦

Minor Road does get used in the Potlatch 2 editor. The tag used is highway=unclassified, but it appears in the Simple view as 'Minor Road', which may be where any confusion comes from.

(25 Sep '12, 16:21) ChrisH

Ah yes, I called it that because no-one ever understands what "unclassified" means. :)

(25 Sep '12, 20:02) Richard ♦

Please do not create an answer every time sorry, noob here. I'll try to be better.

I changed the roads to minor. I have no idea if that's correct, but at this point, I'm tired of the discussion. If its wrong, feel free to modify my changes.

(26 Sep '12, 09:03) rbooth
showing 5 of 9 show 4 more comments

The back woods of Southern Oregon (and probably other western US states, but these are what I know) have several kinds of roads. OSM allows specifying paved vs. dirt and the number of lanes. The problem is differentiating the different types of back-country dirt roads:

  • dirt - 'well' maintained (sedans ok if you don't mind dust)
  • dirt - 'poorly' road (not for a sedan, probably high clearance required, rough road)
  • dirt - cat road (probably originally used to drag logs to a landing, 4-wheel drive recommended)

I can think of examples of each of these types of roads currently mapped on OSM. These are definitely not primary roads. But labeling them all as secondary roads means losing much info for the map viewer.

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answered 24 Sep '12, 08:10

rbooth's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

You can describe these road more clearly by adding a surface and smoothness tag. Additionally there is also a rather old usability proposal.

(24 Sep '12, 09:21) scai ♦

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question asked: 27 Aug '12, 00:37

question was seen: 8,009 times

last updated: 26 Sep '12, 09:03

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