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alley are also common in asian cities and villages: see widely use in Taiwan.

Examples in new gallery

Ftrebien - are the new examples in the gallery actually alleys?

They look like narrow residential or commercial streets. Here in North America, an alley will be behind the houses to access garages and services like trash and recycling, and there is another entrance. Are the example streets a service road which is accessing the back of properties? --Jeisenbe (talk) 16:50, 11 February 2021 (UTC)

They're all mapped as alleys in OSM and have been so for a long time, you can easily verify that yourself simply searching for their names and looking at the edit history. --Fernando Trebien (talk) 17:19, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
It may also indicate that this specific ways are mistagged in OSM data Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 18:05, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
Spittlertormauer, Nuremberg, Germany
How about Spittlertormauer, Nuremberg, Germany? It seems to tick all the boxes: located between properties, provides access to rear entrances, narrow public street in a medieval settlement. --Fernando Trebien (talk) 21:11, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
I started "Hanway Street - London - highway=residential or highway=service" thread on talk-gb mailing list Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 06:14, 12 February 2021 (UTC)
While I am an advocate of service=alley for narrow streets in historic towns (not because they have to be historic but because this is where they typically occur), to me these examples all seem quite wide and I would tag them as residential streets. I use the alley tag for streets that are too narrow to accomodate a car and a sidewalk (usually no sidewalks, sometimes not passable by cars due to width). I do not take issue with North Americans having a different idea. The word "alley" is probably older than your cities though ;) (just a joke, no ethymological research was conducted). Here are some examples from Italy and Germany:
--Dieterdreist (talk) 00:08, 12 February 2021 (UTC)
I would say that File:Vicolo Baciafemmine.jpg is highway=steps, tunnel=* (and if it would be flat then it would be highway=footway. File:Gasse Sommerhausen.png seems also to be highway=residential to me. Other seems OK for highway=service is used by motor vehicles (otherwise some of them would rather be highway=footway, possibly with some bicycle=*) Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 06:18, 12 February 2021 (UTC)
I agree. In particular, Hintere Gasse in Gmünd is very much what I imagine as a narrow medieval way, though it is not public (it is way mapped with access=destination). So if it were really access=yes, I think it would match what I have in mind as a possible (perhaps desirable) assignment of service=alley. From what I see on the map, it seems to be the main access to several properties, which goes against the idea that alleys should be used only for ways leading to rear entrances or alternative/non-main accesses. In addition, in some places, there are some narrow public ways (considering the entire cross section, including sidewalks if any) in non-medieval settlements where service=alley may be suitable due to significantly reduced mobility relative to the typical nearby highway=residential ways. --Fernando Trebien (talk) 15:02, 12 February 2021 (UTC)
An open question is whether "narrow" means narrow for a car or narrow for a motorcycle. While browsing images of alleys, I saw some with motorcycles and no cars. It is physically possible for a motorcycle to drive on most footways, so I think it would be more useful to define "narrow" as narrow for a typical car. --Fernando Trebien (talk) 19:44, 20 February 2021 (UTC)