Proposal:Surface unification

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Proposal status: Abandoned (inactive)
Proposed by: phobie
Tagging: surface:*=*
Applies to: linear
Definition: description of road surface and its usability

Rendered as: various road types
Draft started:
Proposed on: 2008-09-14
RFC start: 2009-05-01
Vote start: *
Vote end: *


This proposal should improve the current usage of the surface=*-key.
It is needed because surface is currently a mix of fastness and material types.
The fastness should go to surface:paved=* and the materials should go to surface:material=*.
With surface:condition=* we are trying to describe the status of the surface with less subjective values than smoothness=* does.

It should extract the best of Proposed_features/surface_values and Proposed_features/more_surface_values.
If it gets widely used by the community it could later replace things like Proposed_features/Smoothness and Proposed_features/grade1-5.

surface:paved=* and surface:material=* can be filled by values currently used in surface=*.

See the already used keys surface_material and surface_state on tagwatch!



To be added


Useful combination

Applies to

  • ways (roads)
  • areas (places i.e. pedestrian)
  • relations (type=route)


Renderer should use those surface* keys in favor to the currently used tracktype=*, highway=residential, highway=service and highway=unclassified tags.


Please use the discussion page for comments.



Values for surface:paved=*:

Value Description Notes Photo
yes was surface=paved ? missing
no was surface=unpaved ? missing
partly ? ? missing


Values for surface:condition=*:

Value Description Notes Photo
maintained surface is maintained Minor defects in asphalt are regularly fixed; dirt roads are graded; grass is cut. Any fallen logs or branches have been removed. missing
uneven surface minimally maintained Potholes are roughly filled in. surface is bumpy or contains minor potholes and other general unevenness. Small branches may have accumulated on or across the road surface. missing
degraded surface not maintained Numerous or major potholes; areas where the road surface has washed away and other major problems with the road. Trees may have fallen across the road surface. missing
corrugated corrugations are present Generally found on dirt roads that haven't been maintained, corrugations are a distinct surface type that slows a vehicle down (and can shake all manner of things loose in a car) missing
rocky road base is rock rocky roads often have substantial unevenness, and can be unsuitable in passenger cars due to clearance. Generally requires careful navigation to drive on. missing
rutted road contains ruts Distinct wheel or washout grooves, and can be unsuitable in passenger cars due to clearance. May require careful navigation to drive on. missing
deep_rutted road contains deep ruts Deeply rutted roads are generally only suitable for high clearance 4WD vehicles. Requires careful navigation to drive on missing
primitive road is unformed Variable surface conditions, not maintained, may not be an actual "road", but more a series of tyre tracks that are used occasionally. Could contain any or all of the above conditions, and subject to change. Very much a navigate at own risk prospect. missing


Values for surface:material=*:

Value Description Notes Photo
asphalt everything made of bitumen or tar AKA bitumen, tar, tarmac (tarmacadam), asphalt_concrete, asphalt_cement missing
concrete Concrete based roads Would also allow you to tag reinforced_concrete, giving the tank drivers amongst us some useful routing information. missing
brick ? ? missing
cobblestone Cobblestones and other similar surfaces ? missing
macadam ? See wp:Macadam missing
plank planks and/or logs Most commonly in bridges or similar strictures, but also found in some roads where the need to anchor the surface or increase ground force of the vehicle to prevent it from sinking into the ground. Also boardwalks, wooden piers, elevated footways through nature preserves. missing
dirt Dirt, small stones This would be the obvious candidate for transferring surface:paved=no to missing
sand Sand, or fine surface dirt ? missing
grass Assumes the grass length is still short enough to be navigable missing
bulldust very, very fine sand (think talcum powder) Very different from sand, bulldust can be difficult to drive through, as the vehicle tends to sink into the harder surface 6-12 inches below, without any idea what is below the surface. This is a fairly explicit Australian tag requirement missing
gravel ? ? missing
ice road made only from ice with no underlaying structure for normal roads with ice on them use surface:iced=yes missing
plant gras, grain, flowers ? missing
soil generic value for dirt, sand, bulldust, ... ? missing
rock ? ? gras road
user defined materials not listed here ? none

This tag should be used to show dominant material, if it is cracked concrete with grass growing in some of the cracks, than surface:material=concrete.