Batch change for tags

Dear all,

I am currently working for an humanitarian organization in Congo and I am updating or correcting OSM in my area of responsibility (

It wa sa very nice surprise to discover all the work already done in this area, mostly by HOT volunteers a few years before.

Still, considering the indications here:, there are a few mistakes I would like to correct. In particular, many very small tracks around villages have been drawn, but tagged as “path”. Those maps are mostly useful for us (humanitarian), and what wee need the most are the road usable with vehicle, either trucks, 4x4 or motorbike. To have so many tracks tagged as path is a problem when it comes to design the map.

I started correcting those tags, but it is a huge work and I was wondering whether it exists a tool to do this in batch (all “path” → “track”), then manually mark the few actual path back as such…?

Thanks in advance for your support!

In JOSM you can easily select all highway=path and change those to highway=track by following these steps:

  1. download region (File - Download from OSM)
  2. In the selection tab click search (if the selection tab is not visible press alt-shift-t first)
  3. Type highway=path as search string and select “replace selection”
  4. Edit in the “Tags/memberships” tab (alt-shift-p) the highway and change it to highway=track. And don’t forget to add a tracktype as well
  5. submit the changes

There are a couple of issues here. One is that you’ll need to be careful when changing any “paths that you know to be tracks” into tracks without changing any “paths that you know to be paths” or “paths that you don’t know one way or the other”. Simply changing “everything” will result in the data in a worse state than it is now - you’ll go a known problem (“some paths are actually tracks”) to a worse one where any properly-surveyed path information is lost. There’s a wiki article about this - - please read through that first and discuss what you’re going to do with other mappers who live locally.

Another is that OSM’s data is easily extractable and convertible - if you want to “display paths as if they were tracks” on a map made of OSM data that’s fairly straightforward whether you’re using a web map or something like OsmAnd on a phone. If you want to treat paths as tracks when extracting data to put on a Garmin handheld or satnav, that’s similarly straightforward.

Finally it’s worth asking the question “why are things mapped incorrectly now?”. I suspect that it might be because well-meaning non-local mappers have mistagged things - that’s incredibly easy to do if you don’t have local knowledge of what something looks like in a part of the world that you’ve not been to with ground conditions, light conditions and imagery that are different from what you’re familiar with at home. I’d suggest commenting politely on the changesets concerned and explaining that actually a particular path should have been a track (if possible with an example “real path” for comparison). That way that mapper will add tracks correctly next time around.

A substantial number of the issues that the Data Working Group (of which I’m a member) gets are related to well-meaning “let me just change X to Y” edits where an initial wide-ranging change simply wasn’t thought through. It’s perfectly OK to select a number of paths that you know to be tracks and change them (preferably with a source such as “local_knowledge”) but it isn’t OK to go start guessing and change “all X in a region to Y” without any checking.

In some case, it may be better to add access tags. The main tag needs to reflect the normal use, not whether or not it could be used in a particular way in an emergency.

Also, tracks are for double track vehicles. You should not use track if the only suitable vehicles is a motorcycle.