Hello all,
I've posted the below message on the forum[1],  and have been directed from 
there to this mailing list, thus re-posting it.
I would like to suggest making the *paved* key for highways (and probably other 
types of elements) official. Taginfo for *paved*:

The above shows that the key is already being used, but the Wiki doesn't 
describe this key, instead redirecting Key:paved to the article about 
Currently, the *surface* key is being used as a way of saying that a given 
*highway* is paved or unpaved, but often the value for the *surface* key is not 
a generic /paved/ or /unpaved/, but a specific surface type is given.This is of 
course very useful for describing the particular surface type a given highway 
has. However, in some cases, a simple information on just whether a highway is 
paved or not, would be very useful. One such case would be navigation software 
– if a user chooses to avoid unpaved roads, the software can check the value of 
the *surface* key, but in practice most (all?) of the navigation software only 
checks for a subset of all the possible values the *surface* key can have. This 
leads to incorrect (in terms of what the user expects) navigation when, for 
example, the *surface* is set to some value that describes an unpaved road, not 
recognized by the navigation software – if the software assumes that all 
*highway*s are paved, unless explicitly stated otherwise (by recognized values 
of known keys), then, in consequence, it assumes that the road in question is 
If the *paved* key was widely used, then the navigation software would have a 
simple and clear way of checking whether a given road is paved or not. The 
default value of the *paved* key for *highway*s could be /yes/, so that it 
would be consistent with the assumption that *highway*s in general are paved.
I don't mean that we should stop using the /paved/ and /unpaved/ values for the 
*surface* key – I'm sure those generic values are useful in some cases. 
However, using the *paved* key would be also very useful. Also, the 
*surface*=/paved/ could also implicate *paved*=/yes/ and similarly 
*surface*=/unpaved/ could implicate *paved*=/no/, so that duplication of the 
information could be avoided when the generic /paved/ and /unpaved/ values are 
set for the *surface* key.
I believe that adding an article for the *paved* key to the Wiki would 
encourage people to use this tag, and navigation software makers to implement 
support for it in their applications.
What do you think about that? 


[1] http://forum.openstreetmap.org/viewtopic.php?pid=451593
[2] http://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/keys/paved#values
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