Should "highway=track" records exist in CityStrides?

Some tracks I’ve seen around Stockholm have a ”name” in OSM that is rather a description, e.g. ”Golf course access”. So they show up in CS when they shouldn’t really IMHO. Don’t know if it would be right to remove the name in OSM, and substitute for something else… is there a description in OSM that could be used? On the other hand the ones I have encountered were easy to run anyway…

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It does look like there’s a description tag from this TagFinder query

Just to chime in here, in Berlin we have “Kleingärten” which are small allotment gardens that are these semi-private affairs with little gridded neighborhoods. An example can be seen here. Often times the roads are barely narrow enough for a car to fit in, and they have bricks for the wheel paths but grass in between. Sometimes these neighborhoods are even gated, or signed with a “Private way” sign.

Between these and forest paths that are not capable of holding a car (nor are cars permitted), I see so many more roads than I can actually run on (I fundamentally see a forest path as not a street and thus not part of “running every street” but i recognize others certainly disagree).

I have tried to edit these to flag them as private or something other than tracks, but I am overruled as it seems like it’s a decision that’s been made on a country-wide version for Germany.

So at the risk of reigniting the debate I would like to throw my hat in the camp of “ignore track” … at least in Germany :).

Tagging is obviously not perfect in OSM, and different users will tag the same street in different manners, so James’question could be re-written in: what is the solution with the least adverse effects?

Since I also live in Berlin, I would like to comment on what @fordrchris wrote.

1.Kleingärtenanlagen (KGA: neighborhoods with bungalows and private gardens): @fordrchris sent a link to a map of Charlottenburg-Nord where there are a lot of KGA with extremely narrow paths. That could mean a lot of striding, but the truth is that most are so narrow that they are rightly NOT in Citystrides. As a result, this example is not the simplest to judge the highway=track issue in Berlin or Germany, even though there are a few paths in this neighborhood that have been imported into CityStrides.

Normally, only the larger paths are included in CityStrides, most of the time because they are tagged with highway=track in OSM. They are almost always large enough for a car. I know it because I have already run most of them. (As a result, I am biased. :joy: )

Most are NOT gated. Some are gated but even here, there are at least 3 different cases:

  • most are accessible all the time (the gate is not locked)
  • some are closed during the night (that is an issue when you are striding while the days are short)
  • a few are closed unless you have the key

The latter group should be tagged as private in OSM in my opinion, but I would say that it is less than 30 streets out of over 10,000 streets in Citystrides for the city of Berlin.

  1. Forest paths. Most are accessible to cars, but admittedly, not all of them are. Here I suspect that the tags in OSM are just incorrect and should be changed, but this is definitely the smaller part of the forest paths in Berlin (most narrow paths are not named and cannot be imported in city strides no matter what).

If we believe (like I do) that only narrow paths / paths not accessible to cars should be excluded, it should be done in OSM and the tag should not be excluded from @JamesChevalier’s query because it would trim too much.

If highway=track stays, opponents of the rule can still use the manual completion to get rid of the problematic streets.
If highway=track goes, there is no way for striders to bring the lost streets back.

In any case, I believe that this interesting discussion can go on but the overpass query should not be changed too often so as not to modify the rules of the game all the time.

I agree that given a black/white choice between being permissive and being restrictive, we should try to be permissive. As you mentioned, marking a street complete is possible while the inverse (completing a street not found) is not.

Of course, and I know as a web programmer that @JamesChevalier isn’t going to like this, it seems like there is fundamentally two different goals a runner could have: every street in a city and every run-able area. In the US these two are generally pretty aligned, but there’s a huge difference, as we can see here, in Germany. My thought would be to separate the forest tracks with a flag, and let a user preference decide whether to include.

I know that might not be worth it from a functional standpoint (I’m assuming most of the user base is US oriented and it wouldn’t affect many) so given that, I’m willing to back off my position, as I mentioned above, given the polar choice between permissive and restrictive, I think it should err on the side of permissive.

Then I can just take my fight to OSM but if you thought people were passionate about the definitions of streets here, you should just see Germans

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I’ve been lurking & reading this discussion, & can see myself agreeing with both sides.

When the tracks first disappeared from my local area I was grateful as these are mostly rough, hilly access roads for fire trucks to attend remote areas of the escarpment bushland. These tracks are definitely well used by hikers & runners however my knees struggle to cope with the terrain.

But on reflection that is an easy way out & I’m now grateful they have been brought back in as this provides a huge challenge to get me off my butt & back up on the hills. I can’t run them any more but I sure will do my best to hike them.

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4 posts were split to a new topic: Remove golf paths from CityStrides

I read this topic with some interest earlier in the year but it didn’t really change my street count. However, having really enjoyed incorporating a track in to my run last week I was surprised how few tracks in my area had nodes.

The “issue” is that in the UK many of these are instead tagged as highway=bridleway (and technically the track I ran probably should be tagged likewise). Playing around on overpass the tag seems to be used quite sparingly in the US and reading the wiki Tag:highway=bridleway - OpenStreetMap Wiki it seems that the UK designation is more aligned to highway=track elsewhere but then in Germany they are for horses only. I’ll be running more of them during the summer but interested to hear others thoughts if they should be considered for inclusion on CS?

If it’s gated, shouldn’t be an issue to put a gate on OSM. But if it just says “Private way” is that really enforceable? There are so many “Private ways” in Boston, MA, USA, and I was sheepish about running them at first, and then I just went for it and no one has ever said anything. That also extends to a long private neighborhood road in Brookline, MA, USA that explicitly said “no joggers” – I went on a day where it was raining :slight_smile:

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I’m curious what road that is in Brookline. (I lived there for 22 years, but well before I became a runner and citystrider.)

I assumed there was going to be some angry citizen waiting at the end of every “private way”. But at some point I did a bit of a search, and turned up this article. Good to go.


Sargent Road, Codman Road, Sargent Causeway, and Sargent Beechwood, all of which appear to have been edited by someone else in OSM (rightly) to be private now. When I was running in there in April 2020 there was some construction going on, I think (parts of) this neighborhood may be gated now.

Seems to me that the Sargent Beechwood should be accessible to runners and pedestrians though according to the town website: Facilities • Brookline, MA • CivicEngage

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As an example to my earlier post on bridleways. This morning I ran this path on my route.

This track is well laid, a good running surface and is named. But as it is a bridleway, it gets excluded from CS but would be included if it was classified as track (which it was until it was “upgraded” on OSM)

Refreshing this topic as I have another example: Oosterringdijk

This is mainly is perfectly runnable footpath that is tagged as such in OSM, and thus ignored. However, there is an unofficial muddy bit at the end that goes nowhere, and this has been tagged as track, and has now been included. I don’t mind the inclusion of tracks, but it seems wrong that the worst part of a path is included while the rest is not.

So walking is OK? :grin:

@tev4 Good article. Million dollar homes on a crappy road, and they like it. Must be harsh on their under-carriages. Loved the tax aspect. Maintenance aside, who pays the taxes on the land?

Dallas, TX is notorious for potholes, and maybe the city has the same approach: traffic calming. :grin:

Some of the parks and trail areas near me have roads/paths that are listed in OSM as track roads. Two examples are Ram’s Head Road in Medford MA, and Coal Road in Belmont MA.

These particular designations do seem reasonably accurate in OSM. (Ram’s Head Rd is listed as a fire road on the park’s map; Coal Rd would probably be barely passable on an ATV).

I am wondering, though, if these make sense to include as streets in CS. In these two cases, anyway, they are runnable but I would say that they are definitely not in the spirit of “city streets”. But I wonder if others have experience with streets marked as track roads, and whether they think it makes sense to include or not. I am probably a bit biased by living in a highly urban area, so these seem like “definitely not streets”. But I wonder if in a more rural town, more streets would be like this.

I can aknowladge what you say in the end. In the rural parts, those streets make up a LOT of the CS load. I am glad they are in CS

As someone that runs in a rural area, I think they need to be included. If certain parts aren’t passable on foot, you can update that designation in OSM and I don’t think it will be included in CS. But parts that can be run or walked should be included.

Aside to James: Sorry I did not find this thread before posting my new thread! I did try! :sweat_smile:

To you and anyone else reading along - do not feel bad about “duplicate” posts. The “move post” feature in this forum is simple to use, and it’s not always easy to find past conversations for various reasons. :+1:

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