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In our community (Thailand), we have recently designed and documented a clear separation between multi-purpose paths (highway=path+motorcycle=yes) and walking trails that are only suitable by foot (highway=footway).

However, one mapper has been using a specific schema to designate these walking trails as only suitable by foot: highway=path + access=no + foot=yes.

Those trails are not signposted. Is this schema common in other countries and perhaps required by specific renderers?

Note: this mapper in question is not really responsive or enthusiastic to work with the local community. So I want to double-check the potential reasoning behind this schema before taking action.

asked 05 Feb '22, 08:49

cmoffroad's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Is this schema common in other countries and perhaps required by specific renderers?

It depends how legal access rights are defined in different places. Sometimes you have no access at all, apart from exceptions granted to certain modes. In other places general access is allowed, but for example motor vehicle access may be legally not allowed. As a community in Thailand you're going to need to figure out what best suits you locally (and it sounds like from your question that you already have).

As for rendering, it depends. A "general map" might show the two cases differently, but one concentrating on foot or cycle access might not. To be honest, there are so many different renderers out there (different maps and apps) that trying to second guess them is unlikely to be effective, regardless of even if it is a good idea.

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answered 07 Feb '22, 11:01

SomeoneElse's gravatar image

SomeoneElse ♦
accept rate: 16%

Re the highway=path vs highway=footway part of the question as another answer says in some parts of the world people often use e.g. "highway=path;foot=designated" instead of highway=footway. Whether that works or not locally for you you'll have to decide. It doesn't work where I am (England) because it does not allow anyon to distiguish permissive access from legally enshrined access. That may or may not be an issue where you are, but I wouldn't rely on routers or renderwrs being aware of any local conventions.

I'd suggest going beyond purely legal tagging and using other tags such as surface, steps where appropriate, etc. to help data consumers understand what you are trying to imply.

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answered 07 Feb '22, 11:19

SomeoneElse's gravatar image

SomeoneElse ♦
accept rate: 16%

From what I've seen around me (western europe), highway=footway are usually urban paths, often sign-posted or implicitly forbidden to other than pedestrian.

I use highway=path for any trail in the country-side that is not wide enough for a four-wheeled vehicle. For example, biking on a forest trail is not forbidden, except in some protected areas, it's just really hard. Smoothness and others tags should be used to discourage road bikes users to go that way.

For the specific highway=path + access=no + foot=yes combination, I don't really see the point. Maybe it's a standard preset in the editor of the user ?

From the defaults, it just blocks horses and bicycle.

My 2 cents.

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answered 05 Feb '22, 14:56

H_mlet's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

Here in Asia, especially in developing countries, paths are not signposted and are typically used by locals on motorcycles. Walking trails on the other hand are narrow, steep, and not suitable for any other means. For safety reasons, it's critical to render them differently from multi-purpose paths. Since most renderers can only differentiate between the highway tag, we use the highway=footway tag also for non-urban paths.

(05 Feb '22, 15:09) cmoffroad

I understand but I'm afraid that might be what we call tagging for the renderer. You should ask the renderers to adapt to your needs, or develop your own. Some already render the paths differently based on sac_scale or access values (Opentopomaps comes to mind).

Are you sure your footways could not be used with a mountain bike by some hard core biker ?

Anyway, that was not your question, and it is not my concern. If you found consensus, this is great ! ;-)

To conclude, don't think too much about the renderer, there is a lot out there, and they make different choices. And don't forget the routers.

(05 Feb '22, 15:25) H_mlet

I developed indead my own plugin to handle this distinction. Some paths may be possible for high risk/extreme sports. But for safety reasons, we agreed to use footway for these.

(05 Feb '22, 16:28) cmoffroad

I still think it's kind of wrong (to use footway for this), and that using specific tags (sac_scale, surface, smoothness, etc.) would be better. But it's really a matter of taste and how you understand the tagging conventions. So, to go back to your original question, I'm afraid highway=path + access=no + foot=yes is semantically correct, and you'll have a hard time convincing the user to do otherwise. Sorry about that.

(05 Feb '22, 16:49) H_mlet

The general expression for the legality to use a feature access=no (or access=private) + specific exceptions scheme combination is an aberration. Excuse me the adjective but it's true. It was never meant like that and the simple fact that OSM's Carto never rendered this scheme with exceptions is the proof. It is greyed no matter what exception. Wrong tagging can escalate so quickly in OSM because someone didn't take the time to read OSM's Wiki, (but even there "recently" they wrote that it is "OK"), or someone was too lazy to write all the appropriate tags and then other newbies copied just because they saw that someone does it. Don't use cheap lazy tagging schemes, be clear.

By the way, the general access key and the other specific ones should not be used for subjective matters, only if its legally allowed or not. In OSM no one has to judge for others about what is subjective, whether it is dangerous or not. You should be tagging according facts, what that feature defines in reality and use its counterpart tag which has been decided in OSM's Wiki. The example that H_mlet gave with pedestrian vs mountain biking is great. Or if a way is not suitable for motorcycles it might be suitable for motocross. You should rather record the key smoothness or surface. In OSM Carto highway=path + surface=unpaved renders differently from surface=paved or asphalt, etc... People imposing their subjectivity are not open minded and are just breaking the use of the map. In the example, it will actually disfavour potential sport tourism.

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answered 07 Feb '22, 09:22

SHARCRASH's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 07 Feb '22, 09:24

Why so much aggressivity? Subjectivity? you are trying to impose your views here.

(07 Feb '22, 09:53) cmoffroad

Have you lived in a tropical, developing country? We have a very small community, trails conditions change drastically during the year, so accurate additional tags cannot be maintained. Offroad bikes or 4WD are the standard vehicles in mountainous areas. We have unsafe trails that are only suitable on foot. We need a simple way to warn end-users. There is nothing in the global wiki that prevents footway to be used for this use-case. We have already discussed this in our community.

(07 Feb '22, 09:54) cmoffroad

The question is why do I always need to spend time to justify myself on this site? Every time I come here asking for help on a specific question on this site, I get people constantly imposing their views on other topics, I didn’t ask for. I won’t bother again.

(07 Feb '22, 09:55) cmoffroad

@SHARCRASH While some of what you've said I think that lots of people would agree with (that access tags are for tagging legal access rules) you've wrapped it in antagonistic language (like "People imposing their subjectivity are not open minded") that will result in people not even considering what you are trying to say.

Please try and think about not only what you say but how you say it - try and understand the other person's point of view and what has prompted them to ask a question here.

(07 Feb '22, 10:17) SomeoneElse ♦



"The general expression for the legality to use a feature access=no (or access=private) + specific exceptions scheme combination is an aberration."

Thanks for this clarification.

I agree with your statement.

(07 Feb '22, 10:23) AlaskaDave

@cmoffroad My comment was purely a help with argumentation, i was not attacking you, i did not insult you, we have nothing against each other so there is no reason to be offended and i did not impose my views, only trying to transcript the common consensus detailed in OSM's Wiki. So i was talking in general about OSM. Many people are involved, it's a fact. No one is perfect, so surely I am not perfect but we should try to avoid errors.

If you have ways that are not safe for any wheeled vehicles and therefore they cannot roll/ride over that way, you have the tag smoothness=impassable.

Yes I went to tropical places in wilderness, I hike and mountain bike a lot. I mostly contribute in OSM for this purpose with unpaved ways and natural features. So i do know that ways in nature are like a living entity evolving at each weather condition but I don't think it's impossible to transcript it in OSM.

@SomeoneElse i did not insult, i did not attack anyone here specifically. For "aberration" when i described the use of the tag scheme combination it was the tag itself, not the person. This is rather a matter of interpretation and again subjectivity.

(07 Feb '22, 12:04) SHARCRASH
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question asked: 05 Feb '22, 08:49

question was seen: 1,223 times

last updated: 07 Feb '22, 12:47

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