Yep, how Russ describes is basically how I do it.
‘The important part is their usage/function, not the surface.’
Not for those actually looking at an OSM map (or using one for app routing) trying to navigate terrain.
‘By specifying the surface (using surface=* and tracktype=) and width (using lanes= and width=*) of the track we can give more information whether this road might be useful for other routing. Think of a routing engine for bicycle or motorbikes.’
These don’t change the visual display in any useful or usable way. (At least, not in any OSM data displaying maps I’ve seen.) Yes, it might aid routing apps but they are all but useless (possibly troublesomely/dangerously so) when travelling away from major roads and highways. For that reason, I don’t even think to complete these tags for paths, tracks, minor roads… (Russ is far better with adding such details.)
I typically use ‘Minor Road’ for roads whether paved or unpaved - as long as in relatively fair condition - that connect from a major road to a village. Not all - if it’s rough going then I’ll label as ‘Track’ - similar to Russ. I use ‘Residential Road’ for fair condition roads within close proximity to a village (residential roads being in residential areas). By ‘relatively’ I refer to the local environment, terrain and general condition of ways. This is something that depend on what area you’re in… Eg, close to a city you might expect roads in a certain condition, far out in the country you might expect quite different.
I must say, not at all to knock the effort you guys put into mapping, but when you trace from sat’ photos, you really are playing a guessing game on what condition the paths, tracks, minor roads are like in the country - or if they are even there anymore. There’s not just the matter of clearly seeing sufficient detail to classify accurately, there’s also the fact that, in the country, routes and ways can change often over years (or even a year) - in use, direction and standard - and so the age of the sat’ pics you’re using can be an issue too. (Eg. rainy season makes a big impact every year.)
As a keen motorbike trail rider and sometimes mountain biker I have spent quite a lot of time trying to spot new routes from sat’ pics (paths and tracks mostly) and then gone out to check them. So, I consider I do have a fair understanding on this issue. I don’t map anything onto OSM until I’ve been there for this reason. Obviously this isn’t a method everyone else mapping to OSM can (or should) practically follow, but I’d just advise caution in trying to classify a way in the country in too much detail just from looking at sat’ pics - as in my experience, that can’t be done with accuracy.
There can be a difference in opinion on what the key use of OSM data is. For me it’s navigation. Classing any other feature as being more important then surface condition, for the very means by which navigation is permitted, is a mistake, surely - as it’s so critical. To be blunt, if ways are classified with a priority to function over surface, OSM would be a poor (read often troublesome and sometimes dangerous) map for navigating country routes. I can understand wanting to organise way type according to function - and it is important and useful - but definitely not more so then surface, in my opinion.
‘Roads connecting villages/hamlets will be at least a highway=unclassified, never a track. The road villagers use to get to the next major highway will be at least a highway=unclassified, never a track.’
But what if there aren’t any Highways connecting - they are tracks or even just paths! (I know plenty. Sorry but some parts of Thailand’s infrastructure might still not be as developed as you would like to think.) Obvious definitions for way types easily judged by visual appearance are being overlooked - for the sake of fitting in with some derived ‘organise by function’ schema… It seems this might be due to a wish to cater for routing apps - nice theory but in practise, in the countryside of North Thailand anyway, little chance of getting safe results. (Unless everyone becomes a good dirt bike rider!)