Thanks for the edits to OSM!
These recreational trails should all be tagged "highway=path", as they have been for many years. OSM uses a functional classification for the highway tag, not a physical classification (physical information can be placed in surface, smoothness, width, etc. tags). The only four wheeled vehicles that are legally allowed to use these trails are law enforcement, emergency, and maintenance staff. The function of the trails is for recreation by people on foot, bicycle or horse. We recently had this discussion on the tagging mailing list.
I can see this distinction being meaningful for paved roadways, but it's inappropriate to shoehorn it onto trails/tracks/off-road ways. The information arbitrarily dubbed "functional classification" is more accurately and easily rendered with access tags, and as someone who actually uses this data, it's far more important to know the physical condition than what the "function" (whatever that means) of the trail is.
Also, "as they have been for many years" is not a compelling argument for anything, except perhaps the OSM community's insularity and unwillingness to change. Like the overwhelming majority of people, I am not on the mailing list, so please consider documenting these discussions in the OSM wiki instead.
"functional classification" is not arbitrary. It answers the question "what function does this way serve?", These ways do not function to provide access to agricultural or forest lands, and hence, are not "tracks."
I am a user of this data as well. The fact that aps/renderers do not render the data in a manner we like is not a reason to tag in a certain way. We should submit change requests/pull request to the app/renderer maintainer.
If physical condition is important, add tags like width, surface, smoothness, mtb:scale. sac_scale, etc. and then ask that app maintainer to render based on those tags.
'These ways do not function to provide access to agricultural or forest lands, and hence, are not "tracks."'
Funny, that's exactly how I use them. Good thing I've got you around to tell me otherwise.
cosmocatalano, I visit this area regularly. Even though it is a two track for emergency use and land managers, it is not accessed for forestry or agricultural use. I don't think anyone is using this path to drive to their crops or extract timber. Please review the wikis: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Path_examples. This discussions also points out the distinction: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Path_controversy, and states that all agree that highway=path where motor vehicles are forbidden.
I visit this area regularly as well, and I have also, in fact, also reviewed the wikis.
"Things that all agree on" at https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Path_controversy literally says "highway=track Implies that it's wide enough for a small motorcar to drive on, even if it's illegal."
It also makes the first definition of highway=path "1. Something not wide enough for four wheeled vehicles" before secondarily suggesting that something closed to motor vehicles might also qualify.
Furthermore, the Tag:highway=track discussion page seems to lean away from using highway=path for "Recreational hiking trails which are wide enough to carry vehicles (though vehicle access is usually forbidden). They provide access to the land, and they are wider than paths, and may be well constructed, but they are not (currently) open for vehicles."
""highway=track Implies that it's wide enough for a small motorcar to drive on" but the converse is not necessarily true, "wide enough for small motorcar does not necessarily imply track. In other words, you can't have a track that is narrower than about 1 meter, but just because it is greater than 1 meter, doesn't mean it is a track.
Yes, and I can think of many things that are much wider than a meter that I have happily tagged at as paths because they would not reasonably accommodate a two-track vehicle. But several sections of this trail system were converted years ago from pretty unarguably "path"-qualifying ways to the wide, level, substrate-reinforced surfaces that currently exist. They more readily meet any physical definition of "track" than many highways I think we'd both unambiguously agree should carry that tag.
Where we differ (and I want to highlight this is purely semantic—I'm not engaging in an edit war) is on defining and assessing the relevance of a way's "functional" ur-state. For me, the currently constructed paths were absolutely built with maintenance vehicles in mind, and those vehicles do occasionally use them. For you, the fact that they're intended for public recreation "by people on foot, bicycle or horse" makes them paths (even though, as I stated above I think access-tagging relays this just as well).
The fact that we are having this disagreement suggests to me that "functional classification" is not an objectively sound way to delineate between highway types.
I don't want an edit war either. I respect that you are a local, use these trails on a regular basis, use these data, and have made many (what appear to me as) quality edits to OSM.
I would actually be happy to tag things in the manner you suggest, if that is the community consensus. In fact I would go around and change everything in our local area in order to be consistent. What bothers me is not your edits, but the fact that the community (though the mailing list), seemed to give me the exact opposite advice a couple of weeks ago regarding the trails at Prairie Ridge Open Space (there were a couple of dissenting opinions, but I think most that responded said highway=path). Those ways are much wider, and in general smoother, than the ones in question here. At the very least it would be good to get all of the local "power mappers" on board, although that still leaves the possibility of someone from 1,000 miles away coming in and undoing our work (it happens).
There is always going to be some grey areas in any classification system, but I think functional classification can work, if the community can agree.
It does seem to be a grey area where one could choose either track or path based on whether they think functional use or width + possible vehicle use is more important. tekim, is there a way to share the tagging list conversation? I've recently added some ways in the red feather area that are old two-tracks and could be regarded as either tracks or paths, so I'd like to have a definitive decision to guide my future edits.
CragMapper - If the community can agree on a rule like "anything traversable by a two track vehicle (need to specify if that includes ATVs as they are narrower and can handle rougher terrain), whether it is legal, common, or intended, is at least a track", (does it have to be unpaved?) I can start mapping that way. Will have to change trails at Bobcat (the east part of the Valley Trail used used by the rangers in their ATV side by side, not to mention the power trail, and parts of the horse trail are wide enough), Rivers Edge in Loveland, Prairie Ridge, and the trail from Blue Sky TH to Soderberg TH and on to Towers, and probably a lot more... which is ok.
Yeah, Prairie Ridge's side of Ridge-to-Ridge should *absolutely* be track. I think (I'm on the board of the local MTB group) I can actually get confirmation from Loveland that it was built that way specifically for truck access (and, in several sections, it utilizes an old road bed).
I'd also characterize the section of Ridge-to-Ridge on the Fort Collins/Coyote Ridge section as a path-at-track-width—an ATV could do it with caution on some bends, but a truck couldn't. I think I'd label Blue Sky TH to Soderberg TH (Inlet Bay Trail) in that category too—a lot of the features would be tough to negotiate sensibly/without serious resource damage in a jeep.
The "Prairie Ridge Trail" that goes from the parking lot to "Ridge to Ridge Trail" and then heads south to the dead-end. is even wider and a bit smoother. If we go with your definition (like I said before, I am just looking for consistency - internal, and over time), it should be "highway=track" as well. Does paving automatically disqualify it as a track? If not, the Poudre trail and Loveland Rec trail (now they have given each section a different name) would be track as well. Even if not, there is part of the Loveland Rec trail that is currently unpaved, so it would certainly become "highway=track" I would think.
I am holding off on any further edits one way or the other. Perhaps we can get the larger community to come to a consensus...
I tried contacting the mapper who changed the Power Trail at Bobcat to highway=path, I haven't heard back.
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