Living street or service road?


In the russian section of the forum we had a hot discussion about how to tag a particular kind of roads, very often encountered here in Russia. I would like to ask the opinion of the authors of the OSM classification about it.

Here you can see some of the roads in question:

I have put some marks on some of the roads in question. They never have a name, and are mostly used both by pedestrians and cars, thus the definition of “a street where pedestrians have priority over cars, children can play on the street, maximum speed is low” for living_street clearly applies here. On the other hand, the description for service roads says: “generally for access to a building …” which is also true in our case; also the part “This is also commonly used for access to parking” often applies, as often there are small parkings inside the courtyards.

Any ideas?

Living street has been added because there is special legal class of roads. They are usually marked by sign with children playing on the road. Depending on country their legal status differs a bit, there is description of rules that apply for Living Street in different countries on Living Street page in wiki. Living Street is usually part of public roads.

Service ways on the other hand are usually not part of public roads. They are managed by owner of entity they lead to. In Poland we have white boards with text: “Internal road managed by XYZ” to indicate, that this road is not public. They may be freely accessible to everyone, but their owner can change his mind anytime.

In my opinion, if you have some law that defines something similar to living street as defined for other countries, you should use tag living street for roads that are under such law. Otherwise use residential, service, or even footway with car=yes, depending on typical usage of such roads.

These roads are usually managed by the organisation that takes care of the buildings and the courtyard (in the end - by the people that lives there) and indeed, sometimes people may decide and put a barrier with a tablet/card reader at entrance to not allow non-local people from using these roads for pass-through.

The typical usage originally was footway (I’ve played all my childhoot on such roads), but now that there are lots of cars they become less of a footway and more of a road. There aren’t any signs about them, but they are clearly distinguishable from other kinds of roads and there are special traffic rules for them (for example, speed is limited to 20km/h).

footway with car=yes sounds reasonable, but there are similar roads that aren’t footways, e.g. for example right next to my home:

Look at the road 1-2, it is used by cars both for pass-through, and for access to the parking. It does not have a name, but it’s a two-way asphalted road. Is this a “unclassified” road then? The “real” roads (that are named) are only between blocks (quarters, don’t know the right equivalent name). All roads internal to the block (like the one above) are unnamed.

I think, that best solution is to think what would do a person that does not live there. I would call a road
a) unclassified, if it is small public road without residential buildings nearby
b) residential, if it is public road, there are buildings nearby. Preferably such road shall have a name.
c) service, if it is internal road, but clearly for vehicles mainly, so even a stranger would go through such way. Especially if there are typical road signs, such as speed restrictions signs, give way signs etc. such road is not a footway, even if pedestrians are allowed.
d) footway with car=yes, if a stranger would have to think twice, if it is a road, or a pavement
e) living_street, if it has special legal status, so it is neither a service road or footway.

In fact it is strange tag, because most highway tags are used to tell you how road looks like and what is intended usage, but living street was introduced to tag roads which look like footway with cars allowed, or service or sometimes even residential way, but has additional status of not being any of them, but something else. There was hot discussion if should be added, and outcome was for yes, because there are a lot of such ways in Europe, so it is easy to tag them with one tag only.

And one last remark — I have not seen living streets in places with high residential buildings yet. It is usually used for areas with single family houses. I have seen it once to mark something which I would call pedestrian otherwise, on a street with mid size buildings with shops on ground level.
I have also seen a pavement along bigger road with such status.