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There are (what I would call) tracks in a local wood, more than wide enough for 2-track vehicles, with a compacted surface. I would assume they were put in for forestry purposes. However, all entrances have been blocked with huge chunks of stone and tree trunks and there are signs warning that use by 4x4s, quads and motorbikes is illegal. I thought they should be a track (although they weren't previously tagged this way, path instead), was then put off by the description "Roads for mostly agricultural or forestry uses" when that no longer seems feasible and they are now mostly used for recreational purposes. I now think they should be tracks with appropriate access and surface tags, but wanted to check here before asking the original mappers if they minded them being changed.

asked 04 Jun '20, 08:16

TrekClimbing's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

I find the definition "Roads for mostly agricultural or forestry uses" off a bit myself. In the woods around here I couldn't think of any single track that is used more for forestry than for recreation. I tend to tag ways as track if it is clear that they were built to accommodate forestry. From that perspective I would agree with you to retag the paths to tracks.

On the other hand there are other tags that can qualify a way further: surface, width, smoothness, trail_visibility, sac_scale, lit describe much better what a way can be used for.

In your case I would look around how similar ways in neighboring areas are tagged (track or path) and do it accordingly. Sorry, there is no definite answer. Make sure to map the barriers and access restrictions. Much better to do that explicitly than rely on defaults assumed by data consumers.

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answered 04 Jun '20, 10:21

TZorn's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%


I agree it's a bit of a grey area where tracks were originally built for forestry but that use has declined over time. I was just thinking about this today as it happens - the state forestry body in Ireland has just announced that its forests near Dublin will now be maintained for recreational use only, rather than mixed forestry/recreation as it is now. Does that mean the forest tracks are not tracks in OSM terms any more? My feeling is that they are still tracks - in practice I would guess they will still be used by authorised vehicles for forest maintenance. I'd lean towards what you say, keep them as tracks with the relevant access and surface tags.

(04 Jun '20, 12:15) alan_gr

The definition of track requiring "agricultural or forestry use" seems to be rather specific to Central Europe. If something looks like a track (i.e., is obviously used by vehicles with two wheels per axle), it's a track. The main exceptions are when it clearly has a functional purpose which is higher in OSM's implicit hierarchy (usually residential, unclassified or service, although in areas of the world where unsurfaced highways are the rule it can be higher still).

(04 Jun '20, 13:30) SK53 ♦

In my area, if it was originally a ranch road (track) but is now used as a hiking/bicycling trail I go by the current condition: If it is overgrown to the point that it is no longer wide enough for a motor vehicle I use "path". If it still looks like a motor vehicle could use it (other than being blocked off at the entrances), I use track.

In both cases I add foot=yes|designated and/or bicycle=yes|designated as appropriate. And I put a surface tag on, usually "unpaved" as the surface can change quite a bit and I am not tagging that detail but I do want to indicate it is not a paved way.

(04 Jun '20, 19:48) n76

Thanks everyone. @SK53, thanks, those exceptions don't apply. I suppose my difficulty was that it certainly looks designed to accommodate vehicles with two wheels per axle, but I'm not sure that it is actually used by them. Anyway, I'm glad to hear people seeming to generally say my instinct is right, it's probably a track because it looks like a track, but to maybe check other local 'tracks'. I've now done that, and they are indeed tracks :)

(04 Jun '20, 21:31) TrekClimbing

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question asked: 04 Jun '20, 08:16

question was seen: 1,314 times

last updated: 04 Jun '20, 21:38

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