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I am new to OpenStreetMap and I am trying to fill in the details of the various local tracks and roads. These are nearly all based on the cadastral map of the area with no information on surface, access etc. I have a problem with highway:unclassified and highway:service. In two of the local areas, the senses of unclassified and service roads seem to be swapped. For example, around Chaumussay there are many roads tagged as highway=service (e.g. even though these are quite normal (if minor) public highways linking or leading to remote farmhouses or hamlets. On the other hand, around le Grand-Pressigny, there are “no through” (dead end) roads tagged as highway=unclassified that could be considered as a “service road leading to a residence, property or place of business” (as defined in the wiki) from a highway to a farm (e.g. An implication of the examples of highway=service in the wiki are that these are in the private domain, although there may be an implicit public access permission, but this is nowhere stated.

The usage must be wrong in one or both areas but before I even think of changing one of the areas, I would like to be sure that I know what I am doing!

asked 18 Feb '22, 17:14

TinyTrouble's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


The first step is to contact the mapper. He still map these days, so he might answer (he never did publicly, check He seems really experimented, so maybe he has a good reason.

It might also be a case of tagging for the renderer, highway=service render thiner, the roads are not wide, so he goes for service. You might want to remind him that's not the point of the highway= classification.

If you have no answer, change the classification yourself. The first example is quite clear. Maybe double-check, ideally on the ground or with ground-level imagery (mapillary), to add relevant tags (surface, width, lanes) so that routers won't go through little roads if possible...

I quite agree with your reasoning, in another country it might have been a mapping style difference, but in France I'm pretty sure the wiki definition applies. I usually don't use service for farm access, but I don't really know why.

If things goes wrong (angry reply, revert of your changes, etc.) contact the DWG for mediation.

Just a note, don't trust the cadastre, track or even roads might have been reclaimed by neighboring farmers, gone into disrepair...

In some country, the default access value for service roads is defined on this page, but not in France, neither worldwide.

So if it is not publicly accessible, use relevant access= tags. In France, usually, access roads to farms and hamlets are public domain. Trust the signs.

Hope this helps, happy mapping !

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answered 18 Feb '22, 19:26

H_mlet's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

Hi H_mlet

Thanks for your suggestions. Being a complete novice mapper I was not quite sure how to approach the question. Your comment "In France, usually, access roads to farms and hamlets are public domain" is the reason that I think that they should stay highway=unclassified - as far as the communes are concerned the access roads (even if they are dirt tracks) are part of the road network. But our commune has been asking farmers if they wish to adopt "their" access roads. For the moment I do not intend to change the status of any way I have not walked along. But, for farm access roads, I might change the status to highway=service if the commune confirms that the road is now private. This should not affect routing. I shall keep an eye out for "défense d'entrer" on access roads.

So far I have only added ways and tags, it is rather rude to change someone else's contributions without consulting them first. I shall contact the mappers.

Thank you

(19 Feb '22, 08:45) TinyTrouble


I have not yet visited the mairie in Chaumussay to recover a list or map of the communal roads, but I have checked the cadastre. All the roads marked "highway:service" are are in "empty" parcels (no number) and are, therefore, part of the public road network.


(23 Feb '22, 10:31) TinyTrouble

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question asked: 18 Feb '22, 17:14

question was seen: 1,103 times

last updated: 23 Feb '22, 10:31

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