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Hi all, although this question originates from a situation in Ireland, I would also like to see how other mappers would resolve the following:

Firstly the question to the community:

How disturbing would it be to put in the ref-tag something like this, in the new situation (described below the question:

Ardee-Dundalk [N52]

R215 [R132]

R132 [N52]

Thus first the OFFICIAL number (or when lacking a number, the towns it connects) and in brackets the, still EVERYWHERE visible, old road-numbers.

When, in 50 years time, all the old signs are torn down or corrected to the official numbers, the data in the [ ] could be deleted.

I just now found this on the wiki:ref page: official_ref=* - Used in cases where the official administrative reference for a road (or other feature) is not identical with the road signs (or other feature ref), e.g. because they are old, or because the administration doesn't have the money to change the signs.

Explanation to the situation that lead to this question:

Out in the real world a road currently has all the signs on it, pointing to it and leading to it, showing up as: N52 (and another road R132).

(REMARK: following links to the irishstatutebook need not be read to understand the question, they are there only for the ones that want to know exactly what is stated there).

This was done using a former version (2006) of the Irish Road Reference (for the R-road this: and for the N-road this: )

Then a new version (2012) came out (R-road and for the N-road this: ).

In this 2012 version, the last stretch of the N52, between Ardee and Dundalk has been deleted/left out of the desription. The road however also has not received any new numbering in the document, so officially this road now has no number. The R132 (originally running through the town of Dundalk) has a more or less similar fate, although in this case, in the document it is now routed to go along a stretch of what WAS the N52 (the part that is eastern ringroad around Dundalk).

However, as stated above, ALL the old signs are still in place. On the M1 the exits are marked to the N52, on crossroads it all shows N52, .... There are hundreds of signs. The same goes for the N132 bit, although in this case there are maybe some 20-30 signs.

To do the ref-tagging using the official data, we should strip the N52 (stretch Ardee-Dundalk) from its REF completely. The R132 running though town, should also have it stripped and put on this small stretch of old N52 (eastern ringroad). Furthermore some former parts of the R132 have been named (in the 2012 version) on intersecting roads as R215, though the R215 does not have its routing described separately, as it should be. Well, a very law-abiding OSM-mapper has done all this, and the R215: this was solved by renaming all the old part of the R132 that the R215-naming COULD point to, as R215. The old numbers were then entered in the ´old-ref´ tag, which most routing apps don´t use or display.

However, as the OSM-data are more and more used on free routing apps (OsmAnd, NavFree, ...) I think this will greatly unsettle a driver who is using this data. He will get information that does not correspond with what he sees in front of him on the signs.

I already contacted the mapper who did the original renaming to the OFFICIAL, but not (and nowhere) visible, road-numbers, and he is absolutely against the proposal I have put below.

Thanks for giving your opinion.


asked 08 Dec '12, 18:42

LimburgCowboy's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 09 Dec '12, 07:07

You are right. OpenStreetMap's guiding principle is "map what's on the ground". So if the signs consistently say N52, then the ways should be tagged with ref=N52.

This is already widely practised, for example, with the UK cycle route network, where Regional Routes are being renumbered to be National Routes. OSM is retagging the routes as and when the signs change, but not before, even though that might lead to a mid-route changeover.

If the other mapper wants some way to record a status that's not yet visible on the ground, I would suggest either (as you've proposed) using a tag like official_ref, or maybe creating a route relation with tags:

  • type=route
  • route=road
  • status=proposed
  • ref=R132

(Strictly speaking, there might be more accurate values for status=, but status=proposed is well understood and used elsewhere.)

permanent link

answered 09 Dec '12, 15:41

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦
accept rate: 18%

Oh yes,

thanks so much for this, and also the (probably) lengthy read till the end of my explanation. I really believe that in doing it any other way, users of the OSM data would not be finding their way (when the data are used in routing-apps) or, at the least, would be confused.

Of course the other mapper is also correct in saying that THOSE are the official data, so they need to be preserved in some way. I sent him an e-mail to read your answer and come back to me, before I change anything.

(09 Dec '12, 15:59) LimburgCowboy

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question asked: 08 Dec '12, 18:42

question was seen: 4,418 times

last updated: 09 Dec '12, 15:59

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