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At first, thanks for having created this page, but there are a few points I do not agree with your interpretation of the proposal :

Some are written there Talk:Proposed_features/Smoothness

other comments are : "Should be used in conjunction with surface=*." I don't think so, a "could" would have been far enough but I would prefere not talking about surface at all.

If someone wants to tag a surface, he'll go to surface=* while smoothness=* might be used without surface with no problem. ( I personnaly don't, because I completly don't care about the surface ) Sletuffe 17:31, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Yes, "Useful combination" like in Template:ValueDescription needs to be added to Template:KeyDescription. I just added that, because I think the surface-tag needs to be mentioned. --Phobie 01:29, 4 November 2008 (UTC)


I could provide other photos if needed to show different cases specialy to show those very_bad and very_horrible, which, even if they might not be used too much, can exist. ( I'll show you a way where 4wd would not pass where a tractor could ) Sletuffe 17:36, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

All photos are welcome! I just took existing ones.
Yes, I believe that we can find many examples, also for even_more_horrible and smooth_like_glass but more than 5 values are impractical for mappers, renderer and navigation-tools! I think school-marks are a good criterion (excellent/good/satisfactory/adequate/inadequate).
I once saw a way were a a high-clearance-4wd drove but no tractor could... We should not try to be exact with imprecise values like god or bad!
Everything which can only be used by high clearance, 4wd, tractor or tank is inadequate for me. No need for a distinction. --Phobie 01:25, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
inadequate for you doesn't mean inadequate for every one, and at least, it is not for me. Keep in mind that "quite" complex can easily be downgraded to "less" complex while the opposite is not possible. Renderers or navigation tools are not forced in anyway to observ all keys. But other use might. So, yeah, please keep them.
Also I'll be glad to see your "way were a a high-clearance-4wd drove but no tractor could" or maybe we don't use the same tractors ;-) Sletuffe 08:56, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
  • With all respect to Alv, his photo of an "horrible" way is not what I would call an "horrible" way ;-) It rather looks like that my personnal car could drive on such a flat way made of grass. I'll try to provide an more horrible way's photo if I find one Sletuffe 10:44, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
    The picture is poor I admit, the way was definitively not flat and only grass but impassable by normal cars - that's why I didn't go closer to take a better picture :). It was the intention that someone will find a better picture. Alv 10:50, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
    It look like I have the same problem with mine ;-) In fact it is quite hard to show, in one photo the usability of a way. A video on the whole way would be cool, but that would make it impossible to use.
I'll try to see what I can do with my 4Go of mountain photos along several different type of tracks Sletuffe 11:00, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

alternative definition by example on the "good" side of things

I'm saving this from the mailing list archives [1]; one problem with the current definition is that for paved roads, smoothness=* is more a matter of whether the road is comfortably usable with a type of vehicle, and less if it is usable at all. A racing bike can go almost anywhere a mountain bike can go, but not comfortably. Robx 16:15, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

I totally agree with your first statement, the excellent/good/intermediate part of this proposal doesn't looks good to me. The proposal is about usability or passability, and I can't find examples where a racing bike will fail driving where a city bike will. That distinction seams to me it is only a matter of comfort. Therefore, the only bad value I see now is intermediate which should be merged with intermediate to me. But I'm still ok with excellent because I have examples in mind (unpaved roads but very compact) where roller blade can't roll will racing bikes can.
however, your second statement : "A racing bike can go almost anywhere a mountain bike can go" is only true because of the "almost". Watch again the picture on top of the smoothness page and imagine the poor guy driving this up-hill with a racing bike. I wouldn't tag that as "good" ! Sletuffe 16:53, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

excellent: this is what well paved new cycle ways tend to be like; some fine type of asphalt; good for roller-skating, a pleasure on a road bike

okay with that Sletuffe 16:53, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

good: your typical road in good state; a cycleway like above but with some small bumps from tree roots because they didn't care to put a proper foundation (?) underneath; a high-quality non-paved footway in a park

okay with that too, only if a roller blade guy will certainly fall Sletuffe 16:53, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

intermediate: a road the has been worn down and could use a new cover, some unevenness from heavy traffic; motorway made of slabs of concrete with annoying bumps when passing to a new slab (you'd really want to use the fast lane exclusively if that's recently been repaved); lots of tree root induced bumps on a cycleway; a footway in a park with coarser gravel or uneven enough that there'll be puddles when it rains; high-quality cobblestoned road (small stones with flat surface, or perhaps some filling of the gaps); the average motorist wouldn't mind, the average cyclist wouldn't complain (at least not loudly), you wouldn't want to skate here.

well, what, in terms of usability, is the difference with the above ? even if the cyclist will complain but still can pass, I'll tag this as "good". Looks to me here we have a black sheep, that might be the one that makes people think it's about comfort Sletuffe 16:53, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
No difference in terms of usability, but a clear difference in terms of smoothness! The above definition could be tied into a definition by planograph. Robx 17:01, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
Yep, but smoothness is not for defining smoothness. Maybe a lot of complains comes from the fact that the name is badly choosen see here : Talk:Proposed_features/Smoothness#Accessibility_.2F_Usability.3F. But my attempt to change that didn't got help probably because many are deeply fighting an edit-war, and also maybe because the "word" doesn't matter that much in other's view Proposed_features/usability Sletuffe 17:48, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
If "smoothness is not for defining smoothness", then it's badly named. Other tags are badly named ("created_by" comes to mind), but that's not an excuse for introducing another badly-named tag. If you still can't understand why the concept is broken, then I bid you a day usable by racing bikes. Chriscf 18:00, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
No one (even native English speaker) has been able to suggest a better word for the concept (except "usability" but that was somewhere deemed also unsuitable). Alv 18:14, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
One must name the demon to slay it. We can't map it if we can't pin it down. Chriscf 18:28, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
These definitions are all broken, in that those values do not have those meanings. Chriscf 16:38, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
Sure they do, if we define them to have those meanings. Compare all of the highway=* values (none of them have any intrinsic meaning, only being defined by OSM -- in some cases by reference to the definitions used by a government) and waterway=river, waterway=stream. --Hawke 19:24, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
"Other shit exists" is not an excuse for more shit. The values used for Key:highway have specific legal definitions, whereas "good" does not and cannot mean "usable by racing bikes". Chriscf 15:36, 15 February 2009 (UTC)
Most of the values used for highway=* have specific legal definitions in the UK. "Good" means "usable by racing bikes" if it is defined as such (which it is). --Hawke 19:56, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Odd, I can't find that definition in my dictionary. Whereas if you look in the relevant legislation and documents produced by the Highways Agency, the highway values do generally have the definitions for which we use them in the UK. They are well-defined terms with a well-defined meaning. Adding a new meaning to "good" is a bad idea, and the meaning "usable by racing bikes" is neither well-defined nor easily observable. Chriscf 15:33, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
Similarly, I cannot find anything relating to roads in the definition of "primary", "secondary", et cetera in my dictionary. "track" does manage (barely) with "A road; a beaten path." Not a very useful definition for the purposes of OSM. Nor can I find it in the legislation and documents produced by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. I do not argue the fact that highway values may have specific legal definitions in the UK which are useless to those of us outside the UK. But just like we have "within the context of OSM (implied) and the context of 'highway' (the key), the value 'primary' means any road that is classified as an A road in the UK or (insert other country-specific definition here)" we can have "within the context of OSM (implied) and the context of 'smoothness', the value 'good' means that the road is judged usable by racing bikes". OSM uses its own definitions for things all over the place. Smoothness is not an unusual case in this regard. --Hawke 17:38, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
This doesn't change the fact that "good" is not intuitive, and is an arbitrary descriptor. "usable by racing bikes" is also not a well-defined measurement. How does one test it? By my reckoning, to definitively state that a road is "good", you would need to test it with a wheelchair, a scooter, a rickshaw, a tank, four cars and five bikes. Chriscf 17:55, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
Have you any better suggestions for the values? Numbers are equally unintuitive and arbitrary, but I don't see you objecting to tags that use them. And just because you can't make a decision about what kind of vehicle you'd be willing to use on a given route, doesn't mean that others also can't. --Hawke 18:39, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
Also, stop comparing this to highway=*. That tag is used somewhere in the order of 10^6 to 10^7 times, generally well-understood, and several years old. I have pointed out before that we have some other bad tags - I have also pointed out that the fact that we have these bad tags is not an excuse for more bad tags. Regardless of whether or not this is a "bad tag", what exactly is the problem in understanding this? Chriscf 18:01, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
So I just have to use this a lot and/or wait a couple of years and your objections go away. Glad to hear it. Is there some specific minimum number where that happens? By the way, don't forget to add "...and Chriscf must approve" to Proposed_features#Approved. --Hawke 18:39, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Okay, back to this section's topic : haven't we a problem with good<->intermediate ? what might make this key be something about comfort (something we don't want, right ?) if two values are not to be distinguished by the passability they mean ?
meaning of "good" is : usable by racing bike, meaning of "intermediate" is usable by city bike, sport cars, wheel chair, Scooter. Are there any ways someone can think of where a city bike/sport car/... could drive where a racing bike cannot (even uncomfortably) ? I don't. So what about removing "intermediate" and merge it with "good". The "comfort" problem might then be put more appart ? Sletuffe 20:41, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
Cool, where getting somewhere :) The word Intermediate between to extreems DOES seem better than stating something as good. As it's clearly a value greater than the least, and less than the best. It would realy help by posting specific sugestions onto each page I would like to merge the page with this one, to show all the examples. I added the reference to verifiability as that page gets to the root of this discussion :)

--acrosscanadatrails 22:38, 13 February 2009 (UTC)


Hi, I'm still not fine with removing those pages. Here's why; This page STILL needs to be fixed. Why not move the section 'Controversy' to 'see also' with a direct link to the talk page???

We know that it has a useful combination of 'access=*' and implies 'highway=*'. That in it's self should mean that the tag should not be used ALONE. The See also Verifiability makes the page clearer. (it also implies that there is conflict with the tag) and people should know the reasons why. Once this page gets fixed, then im ok with removing the page. :) --acrosscanadatrails 00:35, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

Some more illustration photos

Some (more) photo matérials to illustrate mountain tracks, surface/smoothness/tractype/4wd_only/...

Not too steep, but rocks of medium size, high clearance is needed so smoothness=very_bad


Quite a steep turn, strong engine plus clearance needed so smoothness=horrible




Really big rocks, plus steep turn, even a off road vehicle would stop so smoothness=very_horrible


The template is broken

Hi! Can somebody fix the template Template:Map Features:smoothness? It looks that the outer switch does not work. -- Zkir 17:10, 14 November 2010 (UTC)

I can confirm the problem, but I don't have the skills to repair the template sletuffe 13:36, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Got it, there was some missing } in the middle sletuffe 16:52, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

Renaming current values

From this long discussion I've felt that many people find the naming of smoothness=* values inadequate. I think that replacing its values with the suggestions in the text (as I've copied below) would make this tag much more popular and very useful.

Current name New name
excellent thin_rollers
good thin_wheels
intermediate wheels
bad robust_wheels
very_bad high_clearance
horrible off_road_wheels
very_horrible specialized_off_road_wheels
impassable no_wheeled_vehicle

--Fernando Trebien (talk) 18:56, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

Something is needed

This is just a note to say that I'm in need of a tag like 'smoothness' or 'usability' but it seems currently that there is disagreement about the best way forward. What strikes me is that the tagging needs strongly to take account of more than one factor at a time - in particular, usability/smoothness depends on vehicle type (or indeed walking/disability), and also the speed/comfort that can be maintained (there's a broad range of path which can be 'used' on a road bike for instance), and also things like incline and surface looseness. I'm keen to hear from anyone else. currently considering best options about this. Rostranimin (talk) 14:34, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Quality of (modern) paved and compacted surfaces

Thie concept of smoothness is good, if you look at the whole range of paths, but for the description of modern paved roads as well as urban and roadside cylepaths, it is not appropriate: An ill kept roadside cyclepath can be usable with intermediate or even narrow tyres, but is too uncomfortable to be called "good".

Therefore a tag damages=* is afforded for surfaces that ought to be excellent or good if they are well built and well kept.

See Ulamm/Surface damages.

--Ulamm (talk) 09:19, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

Hmm, I would think that damages need no extra tag which adds more complexity. An "excellent" asphalt road which was build 25 years ago and which is now in bad maintenance simply is not "excellent" any more but maybe only "bad". From the page "Usability by a particular type of vehicle means that the vehicle can traverse the route without significant risk of damage (e.g. to vehicle undercarriage/drivetrain) or injury (e.g. by falling).". --Aseerel4c26 (talk) 13:10, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
I suggest the tag damages=* not additional but instead of smoothness=* (without the desire to abolish it),
--Ulamm (talk) 13:55, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
Hmm, I would understand if it is additional ... but "instead"? How do you want to specify the smoothness of the way where there are no damages? E.g. File:Newport Whitepit Lane pot hole.JPG looks like it is smoothness=intermediate if we do not assume that those two potholes are not significant. Hmm, yes, what is significant... hard for potholes. ;-) Single-tracked vehicles can easily drive around the potholes, but two-tracked vehicles can't. I will have a look at your proposal at another day. --Aseerel4c26 (talk) 16:14, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
There are roads (like Spanish roads before they were improved with European money) with so many pot-holes that you can't cycle around them. I've cycled to Spain an in Spain in 1987, 1990, and 1995.
Again on "smoothness": The more global a parameter is, the more the ranking depends on the inidividual views of the mappers.--Ulamm (talk) 16:46, 3 September 2014 (UTC)


Say how to use "damaged" etc. tags to differentiate roads that have been bombed or earthquaked vs. just the usual not smooth. Jidanni (talk) 07:29, 15 June 2018 (UTC)

Other definitions of the values in Key:smoothness

I noticed that the Indonesian Tagging Guidelines give a different scale for smoothness, which focuses more on potholes and road type for the top few values. I'm curious of other countries have also developed different interpretations for this key?

Information Key Value Description
Road Condition smoothness
  • excellent (the road condition is excellent and very smooth; there's no hole, usually found on a race track)
  • good (the road condition is good and smooth; usually found on a free way or motorway)
  • intermediate (the road condition is quite good, some small potholes here and there; usually found on main road)
  • bad (the road condition is bad; numerous potholes here and there, endangering the road user)
  • very bad (the road condition is very bad, jagged and harsh; the road surface is a mixture of soil and gravel)
  • horrible (the road condition is horrible, impassable by typical city car, passable by semi off-road car; the road surface is a mixture of sand and rubble stone)
  • very horrible (the road condition is very horrible, impassable by small vehicles and passable by heavy vehicles (tractor), ATV and off-road vehicles; the road surface is a mixture of mud, gravel, sand and rubble stone)
  • impassable (the road is impassable by any vehicles)
Road condition describes the smoothness of the road and the type of vehicles that can pass the road without any damage. For example, the mapped road is in a quite good condition with some small potholes that usually found on main road, user can give additional tag smoothness=intermediate for that road. For further information, see this link.

Perhaps the main page should mention if the tags are used in different ways in other places as well? --Jeisenbe (talk) 06:29, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

Smoothness can vary a lot between different parts of the road

I’ve found that in a number of cases the bike lanes near where I live are literally impassible on electric scooter, though the roads would fall under “excellent”. This makes it hard to tag the road as chances are people looking for that smoothness data are looking for it in regards to not cars, and while a rough terrain may be “impassible” for some vehicles it can be easily passed by others. Joeybab3 (talk) 00:30, 18 November 2019 (UTC)

You could use a key like cycleway:right:smoothness=* - see taginfo and --Jeisenbe (talk) 03:24, 19 November 2019 (UTC)

Extremely useful!

I think smoothness is about the single most useful piece of information about a highway, i.e. can I use this road with my vehicle? I'm planning an overland trip in Asia, and wish there was more information available on which roads are passable for my car. That smoothness is not very verifiable is not nice, but can be remedied with good guidelines for it, incl. good photos. At the moment, the roads on the photo for "good" smoothness seems to be less smooth than the one for "intermediate", the one for "very_bad" would still be quite passable for a normal car (with care), while the one for "horrible" would be no problem for my Suzuki SX4 (which I think is light-duty off road).--Rhhsmits (talk) 19:30, 21 November 2019 (UTC)

not verifyable

see arguments here --PangoSE (talk) 08:30, 27 March 2020 (UTC)