Mapping - subjective values - which one to choose

I have a mapping question.
For example, I want to determine the smoothness of a path for pedestrians. And for example, I hesitate between “good” and “intermediate”.
Or the wheelchair accessibility for a given way is “yes” or “limited”.
It’s just that often something is not black or white. Descriptions of individual attribute values are often quite general. Then what?
How is the OSM community approaching this type of situation? Could the given answer be wrong or is it just our interpretation of reality and it will be ok? Do you have similar thoughts? ?

Monika from Poland

Hi Monika,

I think both these tags are difficult not just because of the subjective element, but because both smoothness & wheelchair accessibility will very much depend on the user, the type of wheelchair etc. The issue is that people who have restricted mobility tend to have different problems, just as users of different types of wheeled transport do.

For instance I hardly ever use kerb=flush because the wheelchair I used to push my mother in could fling her forward if we hit even the tiniest bit of kerb (so I always use kerb=lowered unless I am absolutely sure). In practice I find that I need to assume that each kerb could be a problem & approach each one gently. Someone in a powered wheelchair or a heavier wheelchair might not have any problems.

For wheelchair mapping I think it’s always a good idea to add a wheelchair:description to provide additional information. I think wheelmap does this as a matter of course.

For smoothness I think there was some guidance on subjective factors relating to specific uses (in-line skates I seem to recall need pretty smooth surfaces). Perhaps taking a few pictures and discussing with others may bring out factors (tracktype did this & generally works quite well). There is no substitute for having a few mappers in one place & discussing how they would map things.