Ok, two things.

*Function vs physical characteristics*
First, I've increasingly realized what's probably at the heart of this 12+
years discussion, the enormous problem of interpreting
highway=path|footway|cycleway (just like is currently being discussed about
highway=track) in two entirely conflicting ways, as someone has
mentioned, *function
VS physical characteristics*.

For some, it seems obvious that all highway tags, from the biggest roads
down to forest tracks and wilderness paths, are supposed to be used
according to their function, not at all their physical characteristics. But
words like path & footway is telling a different story and confusing most

And some say that highway=path either can mean a wilderness path or, if
used with foot/bicycle=designated, a combined, urban foot- and cycleway.
No, it can't, because often the latter case is tagged without access tags
and therefore impossible to interpret based on the highway tag alone.

And herein probably lies the fundamental error of
1. using words that people normally would associate with physical
characteristics, but to only mean function
2. the default OSM rendering not considering physical characteristics
(particularly for non-urban ways) together with underestimating the extent
of tagging for the renderer (obviously people want their tagging to be

This makes these lower-end highway tags extremely ambiguous. And STILL I
see people emphasize that path can have these two meanings at the same
time. But if we are to make anything meaningful of the data they really
can't. I can't believe this anomaly has been allowed to remain unsolved for
this many years.

1. We must decide whether Highway=path|footway|cycleway is to tell a ways
function OR its physical characteristics, not both. Other tags will then
have to be used (and should be strongly encouraged in the case of these
lower-end highways) to denote other characteristics to make them useful for
data consumers.

Unless we clarify this, other tags will just continue to confuse the
original meaning of highway=path|footway|cycleway and thus basically become
troll tags. And there will always be a problem when no additional tags are
being used.

2. Once the single deciding factor behind highway=path|footway|cycle way
has been clarified (likely function only) we can deal with ways to describe
physical characteristics in a KISS way (so it's actually being used).
That's what Kevin is asking for.

*Documenting the process*
Second thing I wanted to talk about is about the suggestion of the
importance of documenting this discussion. I'm not sure what has to be
documemted other than final decisions and significant opposing views?

I thought that many people on this list would rather not be bombarded by
100+ emails about the same topic, which is why I suggested keeping the
discussion among those who are interested in the actual discussion and not
just its conclusions.

Should we close the discussion in this mailing list, continue in a smaller
format and then report back the concluding suggestions for confirmation
before implementing? Or is there still enough interest to keep the entire
discussion here?


Den sön 31 maj 2020 02:48Jarek Piórkowski <ja...@piorkowski.ca> skrev:

> On Sat, 30 May 2020 at 20:13, Tod Fitch <t...@fitchfamily.org> wrote:
> > I’ve spent too much time recently trying to figure out how to better
> determine whether the ways I am rendering should be shown as an
> urban/suburban walkway versus a non-urban hiking trail (intentionally not
> using “footway” and “path” as words for this).
> I realize this might not apply to your map, but just to give people
> discussing path/trail semantics another data point:
> urban ravine/hillside areas like
> https://www.mapillary.com/map/im/pcIl9nspFIi38uEDY5q_OA (this one is
> 300 m from a normal low-density neighbourhood) or
> https://www.mapillary.com/map/im/hHkS__YTVtqWYcg-l4kMGQ (this is up to
> 1 km walk in any direction from a "normal" urban street with a
> sidewalk) or https://www.mapillary.com/map/im/rjjuiRG0giyX_kufNrX_mA
> (300 m from a normal mid-density neighbourhood)
> --Jarek
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