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I'm working to clean up some basically still-raw TIGER data in central Virginia (USA), and so there are a lot of dense-for-rural but sparse-for-a-suburb areas that have a jumble of TIGER crap in them. The wiki is mostly pretty helpful for discerning what tag to put on each kind of way, but I'm still a bit dicey on what exactly makes something a highway=track. In this area, most of the ways that the TIGER import has marked as highway=track are relatively short, connected to the rest of the road system only at one end, and often an extension of a house's or business's paved driveway into an undeveloped part of the property.

Based on my prior, non-OSM sense of what a "track" would be, and the fact that the TIGER import seems to have called them tracks, that seems like it would be a reasonable tag.

However, based on how the renderers treat them and how they're referred to on the wiki, I get the sense that a highway=track is something bigger and/or more important than these. Among other things, these tracks are definitely of less importance than, say, driveways, but Mapnik draws the tracks more boldly than driveways and keeps them visible at lower zoom levels than driveways. The wiki page refers to them as "roads" and I infer that this concept of a "track" would involve more than one person using it.

But then, if it's not a highway=track, I'm not really sure it's a highway=path either, which seems like the only other plausible tag. Maybe a highway=service with surface=dirt? (Or surface=unpaved?) Or maybe they really are highway=track?

A few typical examples with varying levels of residentiality and driveway-ness: 20399335 20408971 20410210

asked 29 Nov '12, 22:21

blahedo's gravatar image

accept rate: 50%

edited 29 Nov '12, 22:53

The road classifications of the TIGER import seem to be very odd sometimes. Don't hesitate to correct them if the way history tells you that there hasn't been any or only a few changes since the import.

A highway=track is a way mostly used for agricultural/forestry use. They are wide enough for a four-wheeled vehicle, otherwise it is most probably a highway=path. You almost never find such tracks in bigger towns but often in and near woods and farmland. Tracks are mostly unpaved, but they can also have an asphalt surface which doesn't change their classification in any way!

In contrast a driveway (highway=service, service=driveway) is a way leading to a property. They are usually rather short and can be paved or unpaved.

And a path, as already stated, is often too small for vehicles and usually forbids them. Paths are mostly for walking, bicycling and sometimes can be used by horses, too. In OSM they are used very similar to footways with only small differences.

You may also want to look at the default access restrictions.

The ways you linked are clearly tracks to me. Although the latter one could be a driveway on its first half but that's a matter of opinion I guess.

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answered 30 Nov '12, 06:16

scai's gravatar image

scai ♦
accept rate: 23%

edited 02 Dec '12, 09:40

You could add that "driveway" is for urban area (residential) and "track", as you said, is more in countryside area (rural).

(30 Nov '12, 16:03) Pieren

There is nothing urban about driveways. Any house (or property) can have a driveway. There are just more of them in an urban setting, because there are more houses.

(30 Nov '12, 17:52) cartinus

I'd say as a 'rule of thumb' a track goes from some where to some where else (e.g. might have intersections with other tracks / paths ) whereas a driveway is more likely to only lead to a single destination. In that sense driveways are generally private to the owner of that destination, whereas tracks maybe available for general use.

(01 Dec '12, 10:11) robbieonsea

Path is not necessarily "too small" for vehicles; the width only works in the direction "too narrow can not be a track".

(01 Dec '12, 20:26) alv

Thanks alv, I updated my answer.

(02 Dec '12, 09:41) scai ♦

I cleaned up a lot of Tiger Data in my area, and decided after reading various definitions that almost invariably agricultural access to fields should be highway=track. I also changed the access' to houses in either rural or urban settings to highway=service, service=driveway. Unless there is an obvious right of way issue, I am also of the opinion that driveways do not needs an access=private tag.

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answered 05 Dec '12, 12:37

RJCorazza's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

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question asked: 29 Nov '12, 22:21

question was seen: 5,656 times

last updated: 05 Dec '12, 12:37

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