Is trampling enough "improvement" to create a "highway"?

Recently, I found Highways - OpenStreetMap Wiki - There it says:

A highway in OpenStreetMap is any road, route, way, or thoroughfare on land which connects one location to another and has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by some conveyance, including motorised vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders, and others (but not trains …).

Curiously, this does not allow for informal paths getting mapped as highway=*. Unless trampling is considered “improving” the ground. Can you agree?


highway=path + informal=yes is a well-established tagging. It sounds like the wiki needs to be updated.


Can be done by including informal=yes Key:informal - OpenStreetMap Wiki

Surprised that’s not mentioned on, or linked from, the highway wiki!

So I just added it: Highways - OpenStreetMap Wiki :grinning:

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Try walking (or biking) across a field of undisturbed vegetation, then try to do the same when the vegetation has been “trampled.” The second is much easier, and so is an “improvement.”

I do not think this change to the documentation is good enough, the abstract has to give it away.

Well, then game trails are highways too?

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Feel free to improve it! :grinning:

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Just did that. Feel free to adjust.

at least rivers can be highways when there is no water…

Fixed a typo & altered the wording slightly

highway=stop, highway=traffic_signals, highway=street_lamp, highway=toll_gantry… None of these is a “road, route, way, or thoroughfare”. :person_shrugging: Sometimes OSM keys don’t make sense. Not a huge problem.


Repeated walking through vegetation can cause a permanent path to form. With enough traffic, this could be a better path than intentionally created paths. The resulting way could be tagged with highway=footway and other appropriate tags.

such generic pages at wiki are very often wrong, the same goes for many key pages

For example, people tried to invent neat definition of key:landuse - that conflicted with actual use of widely accepted tags

I fully understand that this is not the documentation of the highway key. Nevertheless, it might get read by consumers new to the set, therefore it should spell out the full breadth of what is mapped as highway=* by the community.

Feedback here could not have been any more univocal. I am fine with this. The OSM highway key covers all of what in our local (Austria) law is considered “way/Weg”, from “freeway/Autobahn” to “social path/Trampelpfad”.

The page is also quite interesting, as it clearly shows how car-centric openstreetmap tagging is at the top-level.