Proposal:Generic road

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The Feature Page for the approved proposal Tag:highway=road is located at Tag:highway=road
Generic road
Proposal status: Approved (active)
Proposed by: Steve Hill
Tagging: highway=road
Applies to: way
Definition: The tag refers to an unknown kind of road.

Draft started:
Proposed on: 2008-05-12
Vote start: 2008-05-22
Vote end: 2008-05-29



When a user adds a road, the class of the road (e.g. primary, secondary, tertiary, unclassified) may be unknown. Often you can take a guess at it, but in some cases this isn't possible (e.g. if you're tracing aerial photos, or if you are reviewing a GPS track but you can't remember what the road was like).

Currently, various methods are used by people:

  • Tag the road as unclassified - this is a problem, since "unclassified" is a real road classification so it becomes impossible to tell which roads are not properly surveyed and which are really unclassified roads.
  • Don't tag the way at all - the way doesn't get rendered on the map at all, and it is impossible to tell from the data in the database that the way is a road.

Rendering unsurveyed roads on the map has been criticised since it can make the map look more complete than it really is. However, in this respect there are probably two types of people using the data:

  • Mappers - these people want to easily see how complete an area is so they know what needs surveying.
  • Users - to most users, having some data is often better than none, even if it is incomplete and of questionable accuracy. Obviously, making them aware of which bits haven't been well surveyed is a Good Thing so that they can use their judgement as to how much they want to trust them.

The intention is that ways will only be tagged with highway=road temporarily, and will eventually be changed to one of the existing highway tags once they have been more thoroughly surveyed.

Applies to



See Proposal_talk:Generic_road#Voting