Feature Proposal - Voting - highway=scramble

Voting has started for Highway=Scramble.

The proposal underwent substantial changes during RfC. I am much
obliged to all those who did contribute sound advice and helped shape
the proposal.




Turnout so far is good. While I have seen this coming, that many people fear, that this will break rendering and routing, I am a bit perplexed by number of people that consider the tag ill-defined and at the same time recommend using sac_scale on a path instead.

It appears voting has now turned into a comments section. Almost as if there hadn’t been a nice two months long RFC period :smile:.

Nah, the last comment borders on emotional distress. It makes me ever more bewildered on the “expertise” exhibited.

Maybe the proposal text should have stated, that “using hands for” is a technical term, especially the experts in sac_scale might have been helped.

To all those interested in having classification based on a single aspect shared among all the systems that I am aware of: Please let the votes flow :slight_smile:

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I would consider the fact that it will break rendering and routing to be a feature, and not a bug.


Certainly a feature for a general purpose map. For a hiking specific map it will be a bug where marked trails have scramble sections. A hiking map will be expected to show these, though they could be styled differently.

That’s a fair point for a hiking map, especially in cases where there’s no hiking route relation that would indicate that a $UNRECOGNIZABLE way is supposed to be routable on foot.

It might serve as an incentive to map a route. On occasion, $Undefined made me do just that, on grounds of signposts that specified destination and operator. I did so, even after I learned that OSRM, as called from openstreetmap.org, is a hiking router, something that I’d never subscribe to.

Looks not good for this proposal to get the approved stamp. Too many, that are happy with status quo, tagging sac_scale on a path. Certainly, good enough, if less is more. Certainly also good enough, if rendering and routing must not be broken, even for a niche group of users.

My favourite quote as of now: Strongly support this. This sort of intuitive duck tagging… This one made me smile.

I also like this: the combination of highway=path and sac_scale=difficult_alpine_hiking is akin to a trolltag. Even though the proposed tag would only apply to non-walkable sections of such, I think a mapping is a promise, and if I promise a path or a footway on a location where I need to use hands to advance, I feel the appropriate thing to do is to promise a scramble instead, something that I can honestly do.

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Very well said

Certainly also good enough, if rendering and routing must not be broken, even for a niche group of users.

I don’t see people being able and willing to scramble on a hiking tour in the mountains to be a niche of the people hiking in mountains. It is certainly not expected if you’re on a walking tour in the flatlands or hills, but for mountain areas and a path that has an according scale, the use of hands is not an impediment and somehow expected from T3 onwards https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:sac_scale

(T5 and T6 include climbing and are no continuous paths in osm anyway)

anyway, you got me convinced, I made up my mind from “better not change a working system” to “let’s be more cautious and have a main level distinction for scramble ways”

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I have added a section to the highway=path wiki page describing the current disputed usage of highway=path for scrambles.


Not to be obnoxious, just one remark: There are 20k *alpine paths, while there are 12½ million paths, that makes 0,17% (from exact numbers). What then is niche if not that? And this is the number to get used as a reference: Story of people sitting in a mid mountain restaurant hut, consulting the app on their mobile, that serves them fine in their urban environment, find a shorter path to the parking lot than the convenient walk up. One with several UIAA II scramble sections, fairly exposed and downwards at that. As one opponent lectured me, you do not do that without upfront research.

Ever more people rely on such aids alone. I have no doubt, that apps and services that cater for hikers will adapt. They even may use the extra information to improve on their guidance. May take a while. An approved stamp might have sped that up a bit. Adapting will be slightly more involved than colour-coding ways due to the micro-mapping that the proposal became during RfC. The majority of products, that select for path will have no reason to change anything.

Giving scramblers something in return for letting go of path, a new highway tag is the minimum :slight_smile:

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@Adamant1 & @eartrumpet, continuing here from the voting section. I find extended converstations on wiki pages quite difficult to participate in.

I’m open to the idea that not only is a scramble not a path, it is also not a highway so we should use a different key as well. What would you suggest @Adamant1? This is not the primary argument I’ve seen so far though. What I’ve seen is people saying "yes, scrambles are paths and we should continue to tag them as highway=path".

Yes, highway=demanding_path has been suggested. I like that it is a separate primary tag from highway=path however this would be a much broader category than highway=scramble and seems much more subjective to me.

I disagree that a scramble is a kind of path. A path is something you can walk on, a scramble is not. Yes hiking trails and routes definitely contain scrambles. These parts of the trail/route are pathless. Yes highway=path has been used for scrambles for a long time, but that just means we’ve all been lying to the renderer for a long time :grinning:. I’m interested to learn more about the German “Steig” concept. I’m in favor of subdividing highway=path into more specific categories like this.

I agree, from reading the opposing reactions, I am fairly sure that any proposal to change both key and value would be opposed by an even higher proportion than the proposal to change the value alone. For example, objections based on ways disappearing from renderers would be even stronger, if anything, if these ways were moved out of the highway key.

So regardless of whether it is a good or bad idea, I can’t see how there is any possibility of it being approved.

As I wrote above, as long as hiking trails are part of the path definition (in the current wording), this includes every kind of hiking trail. And I think this one of the points where the problems start - hiking in the alpine definition is something different than hiking in hill areas, and also has cultural/historical implications. Best example is what in OSM is known as the SAC scale, which is by definition a hiking scale of Swiss alpine club; they have also other scales which aren’t hiking (e.g. mountaineering/high mountain, via ferrata, climbing). Yes, scramble is relatively well defined (especially in comparison to highway=path :-)), but IMO with the current definition of path a tag like scramble=* is enough. For a disruptive new highway tag a broader definition like the discussed highway=demanding_path/mountaineering/etc. would be more helpful to prevent dangerous situations. I know lots of people who have problems with T2/T3 hiking trails, and those would still be rendered like harmless walkways with highway=scramble in effect.

There’s not that much to read online, e.g. here:

In literally every map for mountain hiking there is a different rendering for “Steig” in comparison to footway, e.g. this:

Thanks for the Steig information. A hiking map distinguishing between Weg, Fußweg, and Steig seems very useful.

The highway=path wiki page does say:

This includes walking and hiking trails …

However, it doesn’t say anywhere that it includes every kind of hiking trail. The current wording can easily be interpreted to imply that some, but not necessarily all, hiking trails are included.

One thing is important : the vote is in any case a success in term of turnout. It’s great to see the community discussing such a topic with great arguments.

I hope there can be a better outcome out of this: this document a dispute and no solution. This is not looking very positive, and we could maybe do without trench war, can we?

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If scramble is not a highway=*, then perhaps route=scramble similar to route=ferry and route=piste?

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