A Greek nightmare in road classification

Posted by ika-chan! UK-USA on 14 May 2013 in English (English).


Amaroussi is working around the clock to resolve Greece’s road classification nightmare.

OpenStreetMap users and editors may be aware that I am trying to solve a major issue regarding road numbers and classification in Greece, following my visit to the country last year. Additionally, I have discovered a very old government document regarding the classification of Greece’s Provincial Roads.

The problem

At present, many of the National and Provincial roads are unnumbered, and I have been trying to introduce numbers based on interpolation and the 1963 list of national roads. As an interim measure, secondary roads had refs based on their destinations, whereas the Leonidos-Sparta road had ref=Leo-Spa (in Greek).

Last weekend I stumbled upon SkyscraperCity’s forum topic on Greek highways and it appears that the road numbering system is very patchy.

Firstly, According to user ea1969, new numbers were added without proper consideration for the growing motorway network. Motorways then completely replaced National Roads without considering prohibited traffic.

Secondly, there is a provincial road numbering system and there is a pilot of the scheme at Alexandras Avenue since this morning using ref=EΠ8, based on the position it appeared for the entry regarding Attica’s provincial roads. The problem is that it dates from 1956. Yes, 1956 - it has not been updated since.

This means that there going to be roads between towns and strategic municipality-maintained roads without the recently-discovered EΠ numbers, which makes the situation complex.

The solution (?)

The objective of OpenStreetMap is to be as useful to cyclists and pedestrians as much as motorists. In the UK, we know very well that road numbers are very useful and I hope to make it useful to our Greek users as well.

The advantage for OpenStreetMap over other Internet maps of Greece is that other maps either mistake Motorways for some National Roads, or simply just guess the route, which leads to overlapping sections. In both scenarios, they leave out Provincial Roads completely.

I have been doing actual research to figure out what the exact route of every National Road was and what it might look like today. That means that with consultation with actual government documents and Greek road enthusiasts, OpenStreetMap has the advantage to represent the most accurate road network of Greece to date in respect of road numbering.

As you will have noticed, I have been reviewing National Roads in Attica and the Peloponnese, as well as provincial roads between villages and towns. Over the next few months, I will be piloting a new provincial road system in the area with EΠ numbers, based on the position it appeared for the entry regarding each province’s provincial roads at the time.

However, to implement this I am proposing major changes to how we classify roads Greece:

  1. National Roads may be re-tagged as Trunk roads instead of Primary roads, so that Provincial Roads will become Primary roads instead of Secondary roads. This will free up the Secondary road tag for key municipal roads and roads between towns that were built after 1956.
  2. To disambiguate between Expressways and National Roads, Expressways will be tagged with motorroad=yes. At present the trunk road tag is visually underused in Greece, and this has a negative effect of making National and Provincial Roads appear barely visible on MapQuest Open.

I just hope that one day the Greek Government will tidy up the road numbering system. Maybe our intervention will restore credibility to Greece’s patchy road numbering system.


Just before I sign-off this post, I want to enquire how I could start my own OSM server for creative and testing purposes? Thank you.

Location: Ακαδημία, 1st District of Athens, Athens, Municipality of Athens, Regional Unit of Central Athens, Attica, 106 72, Greece

Comment from TomH on 14 May 2013 at 07:22

Firstly I really don’t think you should try and invent road numbers by interpolation, or any other means - if a road doesn’t have a number then there’s not much you can do except not give it a ref tag. We record reality, not what we would like to be reality.

Secondly, I think you put highway=primary for some things where you meant highway=secondary on the wiki page that you linked to. Also, perhaps it would be better to use highway=tertiary to get the extra level that you seem to want want that overloading primary with the little used motorroad tag.

Finally you should definitely discuss all this with the Greek community, on the mailing list, forum or wiki - basically wherever Greek users tend to gather - before you start making radical changes.

Comment from ika-chan! UK-USA on 14 May 2013 at 07:55

I did fix the primary road issue. That was a mistake.

I don’t remember there being a forum for OSM other than the help service at Is that the forum?

Comment from Vclaw on 14 May 2013 at 13:01

The forum is here: It does have a section for users:Greece, though I’m not sure how active it is.

Or details of mailing lists here: It looks like there isn’t one specifically for Greece. You could try the general “Tagging” list.

Login to leave a comment