Should "highway=track" records exist in CityStrides?

Hi James

Just wondering if this tag should be excluded from your Overpass query. According to wiki “This tag represents roads for mostly agricultural use, forest tracks etc”. Quite a few of these are showing up in my city and are not really runnable named streets. For instance CityStrides


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It seems like this has been implemented. The last update deleted about 10% of the streets from my city and I think it is because they are highway=track.
I’m not really sure I understand or agree with the change. Those are named streets (otherwise they wouldn’t show up anyway) and pretty much all of them are perfectly runnable. Forest tracks and tracks over fields are among the most enjoyable streets to run, in my opinion. Sad to see them go.

And to quote the OSM wiki: “This isn’t to say that tracks are never located in urban areas, many of them are (especially in grass landuse, allotments [2], parks, etc.)”. Seems wrong to me to exclude them.

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There’s another conversation about this somewhere in the forum (Unmaintained Track Roads). I think I excluded track after seeing some actual tracks (those circular running things that aren’t streets :laughing: ) in CityStrides.

The next update re-adds the highway=track so the next city update after I release that will re-add those streets. I don’t know when I’ll release that, because it also includes a huge JavaScript overhaul & I need to have time post-deploy to handle any bugs I missed in development. I’m guessing either this evening or sometime Saturday.

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I don’t know when I’ll release that, because it also includes a huge JavaScript overhaul & I need to have time post-deploy to handle any bugs I missed in development. I’m guessing either this evening or sometime Saturday.

:smiley: I like your time management! I am more used to: huge release means it is released “maybe next year” (never).

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I’d like to re-open this discussion, because it has caused a lot of confusion (Frustrated with CityStrides) and I think there may be more opinions out there on whether or not highway=track should exist within CityStrides or not.

The issue is that highway=track includes a wide range of data, much of which should definitely not be included in CityStrides.
Perhaps there are other tags alongside this one that we can use to include/exclude the data we really want?

It’s also worth referencing About the Node, Street, and City Data which includes a link to a doc that shows the existing query

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The problem is (I think) are the wide range of opinions from people as to what a “street” actually is. As I commented in reply to the “frustration” post, there are some roads I simply won’t run for various reasons and some I will just click "manually complete " again for various reasons. But this is an individual challenge for me, using this brilliant site as a support and tracking tool. I might never obtain perfection but I’ll know that at some point this year I will have run nearly 3000 streets according to my definition of what a street is. Problem is we all define that differently, and we can’t endlessly chase dealing with these different “categories”. Life isn’t perfect, but I love my map of purple streets :heart:


I’d like to +1 keeping “highway=track”. In my area, these are vehicle-capable roads, with legit street signs and names. I’ve run some that were (or turned into) agricultural dirt tracks, but there are tons of those with no name so there must be something special about those that have one :laughing:. One of the main attractions of the CS challenge for me is to see ALL of the city, for me that also includes the more rural parts of town. They also tend to make for pleasant running, though I appreciate that that isn’t the main consideration here. I’m probably a bit biased since I’ve bagged quite a lot of them by now, the recent update to my city which brought tracks back had my street count jump by around 100 streets.

That said, I agree with Jordi from the Frustrated with CityStrides thread: a stable query would be ideal. I remember when I first joined CS the map had all sorts of stuff, including restaurants, bus stops, statues, and random buildings as “streets”, since then the query has been fine-tuned and stripped of the obvious “non-street” stuff to the extent that I’m happy with the status quo.

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+1 for keep here. And for roughly the same reasons as above. A lot of named unpaved tracks/roads are legit roads to houses and other things people live. that’s a good enough definition for me to run them. I also try to run all the unnnamed also for a time already, They could get a name in the future!

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It very much depends where you live.

In my area, some highway=track are quite runnable although not really runs most people would consider part of a city run. There are also some that are almost impossible to run, let alone actually get to. Off 4-wheel drive tracks and mountain bike tracks.

I guess its a preference thing. The 4 tracks I linked as examples would almost never be run by anyone so will always be incomplete.

If this is such an issue, then maybe you can have an preferences/setting/option whether to include these tracks on our life maps or not.

For me it is frustrating as I know I will never have a complete map

That would suggest to me that those tracks you mention are miscategorised in OSM. According to the Wiki …

This tag represents roads for mostly agricultural use, forest tracks etc.; often unpaved (unsealed) but may apply to paved tracks as well, that are suitable for two-track vehicles, such as tractors or jeeps.

If the way is not wide enough for a two-track vehicle, it should be tagged as [highway]=[path]

Do not use tracks to represent unpaved streets in built-up areas.

Regardless of how they are represented in OSM, it seems to me that:

  • some people really want tracks to be included
  • some people really don’t want tracks included
  • there is a potential for included tracks to cause data ‘corruption’

I also suspect that technically, including tracks does not pose much of a challenge (except for a bigger load), but of course it is really up to @JamesChevalier.

All in all it seems to me that tracks can be included, but not as regular streets, so some kind of flag needs to be introduced to identify them. This could work together with a personal setting to hide or show them, where the question is how far that should be taken (e.g. just completed tracks, or also city percantage, or also other people’s percentage).

I’d like to +1 keeping “highway=track” too.

My experience of OSM “tracks” for southern England is that “tracks” with names are broadly the same as unpaved streets. “Tracks” without names are most likely to be agricultural tracks, etc.

So, retaining the “highway=track” (and of course the overall requirement for a name) seems to be a good solution for me.

I’d say if it has a name it stays!


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