Improving the Wiki documentation of `tracktype=*`

Continuing the conversation from:

I’d like to initiate a discussion to enhance the tracktype wiki.


  • There’s quite a range of interpretations floating around regarding what exactly tracktype signifies (details below).
  • Notably, renderers consistently use tracktype as the go-to tag, unlike tags such as surface or smoothness. This highlights the critical need for a uniform approach in handling tracktype.

Various perspectives:

  • In some cases, tracktype reflects the ground’s firmness upon wheel contact, akin to the examples given under the surface description.
  • tracktype can be seen as a measure of the distribution of hard and soft materials across the entire width of the track, as illustrated in example photos.
  • Another interpretation suggests that tracktype denotes the amount of ground space available for the wheels to make contact, as demonstrated in example photos.
  • Alternatively, tracktype may signify the level of maintenance of the track, similar to the concept conveyed by the smoothness attribute.

Here are my initial suggestions for enhancing the wiki, but I recognize the need to first determine the intended usage of tracktype before finalizing any improvements:

1. Rephrase first sentence to " 'Tracktype is an indicator of the surface firmness of a road, with a significant emphasis on unpaved surfaces."
2. Include a crucial note specifying that only the dual track segment where a 4-wheel vehicle contacts the ground is relevant.
3. For grade1, substitute the wiki phrase “Usually a paved surface” with “Always a paved surface.”
4. For grade1, incorporate the surface examples concrete:lanes;concrete:plates into the documentation.
5. Introduce an additional column or two with more photo examples.

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Is the aim to more clearly describe how tracktype is used now, or to suggest a change to how it is used?

The first line in the wiki is “Tracktype is a measure of how well-maintained a track or other road is”. Is your proposal consistent with this? You seems to be saying that a very badly maintained track can still be grade1 - which may be OK, but does not seem to match this line (which presumably has influenced mapping practice up to now). Also I suppose you would need to change the comment on grade2 that it “May be applicable to heavily degraded and crumbled roads which was paved in past.”.

For what it’s worth, I found more than 100 instances of surface=asphalt with tracktype grade 2, 3, or 4 in Ireland. There are also more than 400 uses on highway=path in Ireland, so any reference to 4-wheel vehicles would need to take that into account.

Just to be clear, are you saying that

  • All tracks with paved surfaces are grade1 (leaving the possibility open that some unpaved tracks can also be grade1)
  • OR All grade1 tracks are paved (leaving open the possibility that some paved tracks can be lower grades)
  • OR All grade1 tracks are paved and all paved tracks are grade1?
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You left out the crucial aspect of the phrase ‘particularly regarding surface firmness,’ and indeed, I would substitute the entire sentence with: 'Tracktype is an indicator of the surface firmness of a road, with a significant emphasis on unpaved surfaces.

A poorly ‘maintained’ track would simply be reflected in a different smoothness value."

  • Paved tracks and roads, including concrete lanes, are assigned a grade1 classification, irrespective of their surface smoothness.
  • Unpaved tracks and roads are ineligible for a grade1 classification.

tracktype has predominantly been applied to roads, but similar to smoothness, there seems to be no technical barrier preventing its use on paths. If there is adequate traction for this idea, I will revise the proposal accordingly.

I’ve revised the initial post to reflect the actual reasons for the wiki improvements. What is the original and intended purpose of tracktype?