I'm wondering: What is the proper way to tag tram tracks embedded in a street?

On http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tram , the Wiki says

Where tram tracks are embedded, and other traffic is allowed to use the same space, mappers usually draw a new way for the tram tracks but reuse the nodes as the street where they run completely parallel. (Two similar methods that are not recommended: To draw a single way with both the highway= and railway= set at the same time; or to draw a the railway on top of the street, but using its own nodes.)

On the other hand, http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:railway=tram says:

This tag can be used for tracks which are mainly or exclusively used for trams, or where tram tracks are laid within a normal road open to all traffic, often called street running (in which case it can be used in addition to highway=*).

So one page proposes using one way, and tagging it both as a street and as a tram track, the other proposes creating a new way, reusing the nodes of the existing way for the street.

This seems in contradiction. What is the best approach?

To me, adding a second way feels redundant. The only case I can imagine where it would make sense would be if the tags of the street and the tram track would conflict, but as far as I can see, there are no tags that make sense for both a street and a tram track, so that should not be an issue.

asked 19 Jan '11, 23:25

sleske's gravatar image

sleske
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accept rate: 25%

edited 19 Jan '11, 23:37


The first method is recommended (having an extra way for the tram track). There are several reasons for this:

  • there are tags that can be meaningful for tram tracks and highways (e.g. oneway), so conflicts are possible;
  • whenever the tram deviates slightly from the road, you would have to split the way and create an extra tram track anyway;
  • there is a general assumption (one might call it careless) that a way can either be a highway or a railway; people will do things like "dear editor, please hide all railways since I don't intend to edit any" and whoops, a stretch of your road is gone.

The wiki has been fixed.

Note that there are no fixed rules in OSM so even if something is "recommended" or "usually done", you can still ignore that recommendation. If a significant number of people do that, then it will become recommended to ignore the recommendation ;)

permanent link

answered 19 Jan '11, 23:35

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
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accept rate: 24%

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the answer, and for fixing the Wiki.

(19 Jan '11, 23:36) sleske
(08 Nov '13, 10:38) marcoq

Sometimes the conflicts of meaning between the tags may be solved by using some more specific version of the tag. For example, there is the "oneway" (general "one way") and "oneway:<vehicle_type>" (specific for the vehicle type, like "bicycle", etc. as described in the wiki page for Oneway

(08 Nov '13, 13:33) MCPicoli

http://osm.org/go/WIDlWQ~O8-- has some examples. I run the tram line between the rails (ie, the centerline of the tram track). Not only is it more precise, it simplifies dealing with the highway centerline.

(08 Nov '13, 13:55) Paul Johnson
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question asked: 19 Jan '11, 23:25

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last updated: 08 Nov '13, 13:55

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