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

In my town we have a number of utility easements that are not recognized roads or legally alleyways (no signage of any kind, appear to be grass yards or driveways from ground level, not used as means of access between adjacent roads), but several of which have adjoining driveways or parking areas that nominally allow automotive access. To complicate the matter, most lots in this small city are unfenced, and therefore borders between parcels are exceptionally unclear from satellite imagery, which makes it hard to tell where such easements might end.

The sole purpose of the easements is for utility poles and gas and water mains, and while a few residences and businesses use the driveways, they are not used as through roads. In many cases there are no adjacent driveways at all and one extends through the middle of the city park.

Furthermore, in local official (copyrighted) maps, these are not shown as paths or roads.

Should these be mapped as roads? I don't see a difference between these and illegal shortcuts across unused spaces that are regularly used (we have a couple of those in our town as well). As a resident, we are responsible for the grounds keeping of our section of the easement (which is bordered by drainage and is grass), but cannot fence it off. Further complications.

I have searched several times, and found no real answer.

asked 12 Nov '12, 22:23

bmaura's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


If they are not roads and shouldn't be used like roads, why do you want to map them as roads?

(14 Nov '12, 02:42) cartinus

They are visible in sat imagery in several places in my town and have been marked as unnamed roads previously. There are many that are not so visible. They should be indicated in some way, and I'd like to do that consistently across the town, but there doesn't seem to be an appropriate tag for what they are. The nearest non-road equivalent would be a non-travel right of way for high-voltage power lines, only on a small scale.

I understand that it sounds odd - prior to moving here, I had never seen such easements/rights of way not associated with either roadways or high-tension power lines.

(15 Nov '12, 15:32) bmaura

"not recognized roads or legally alleyways" - that is not important at all, though it may influence what should be tagged in access tags

"appear to be grass yards or driveways from ground level, not used as means of access between adjacent roads" - ones that are driveways should be tagged as driveways, ones that are not even driveways should not be tagged as roads.

As usual, photo of the situation would be useful.

permanent link

answered 15 Jul '18, 10:51

Mateusz%20Konieczny's gravatar image

Mateusz Koni...
accept rate: 0%


In the case of footpaths if they are well used and link other ways, and not marked as private, I would map them as highway=footway and foot=yes. Driveways to houses can be mapped as service roads and if marked as private there is a tag for that as well, it usually renders as pink.

permanent link

answered 13 Nov '12, 10:53

andy%20mackey's gravatar image

andy mackey
accept rate: 4%

These aren't foothpaths, however. They are utility supply easements and aren't used for travel.

ETA: The illegal shortcuts are places where some people have cut across a corner of an intersection in vehicles because there is not building or kerb to stop them. When caught doing so by police, people have been stopped. However, this being a small rural town (called a city because it used to have several thousand residents, it has declined in size but not been reduced in status), it happens often despite its illegality.

I think that if anyone were to use the easements for travel it would be considered suspicious given that they back onto unfenced residential yards and the backs of businesses. The town is small and blocks are short so there is no real need for using these as either auto or foot shortcuts.

(13 Nov '12, 17:51) bmaura

Some illegal shortcuts made legal by road authorities.(e.g. Halkapınar-İZGAZ-Food Market intersection in Izmir)

(11 May '13, 09:25) erkinalp

If they are well visible, you can use highway=track or highway=path. Add access-tags to represent the legality of them (e.g. access=no if illegal to use, access=permissive if "tolerated" or allowed until further notice).

It might be also useful to read in the wiki about the keys smoothness, usability, surface, tracktype.

I can understand the urge to include them, but I would only include them if they are somehow significant - i.e. well noticeable, provide good shortcuts and so on. Then it is also necessary to use the correct access-tags, so that routing engines don't guide you there.

I am mapping in a country where rural highways are often so bad, that people cut through grassland with their cars, because it is better to drive. Therefore, your problem seems familiar to me ;)

permanent link

answered 16 Nov '12, 13:20

moszkva%20ter's gravatar image

moszkva ter
accept rate: 17%

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text]( "title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported

Question tags:


question asked: 12 Nov '12, 22:23

question was seen: 88,524 times

last updated: 15 Jul '18, 10:51

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