Discourse assistant technology immediately did remind me This has come up before!
How about a base tag in the highway key, to help sharpen what highway=path can be on the ground: As of now, it just means, you can get from the start to the end somehow, on a horse, a cycle, a scooter, a moped, a motorcycle, a quad, with a pram, on foot. You might have to carry the cycle, the pram, the horse - Does not matter. Data contains paths, where even your ass (donkey) will go on strike
This is too wide! As a studied postmodernist, I’d like to introduce highway=pass, this just tells consumers, that it is possible to get from start to end on foot, using hands, ropes, jumps, whatever. Might be dangerous, might be fun, might be visible on the ground, might not. Postmodern, because for lots of people, except perhaps from Greece, Britain and Iceland, when spoken aloud, pass and path will sound the same.
Maybe you want to explain about the benefits you see and what are your ideas for the more specific meaning of paths?
Based on my knowledge of offroad-ways in Central Europe and parts of Asia, there is no benefit and for the onroad-ways there are more specific tags existing like highway=footway. Though the only difference to highway=path are implied access-restrictions. For all the differentiation we have plenty of additional tags. In short, I don’t see the problem you want to solve.
As I said in Highway=path wiki page additions and updates - #28 by Friendly_Ghost, I’d love to demote highway=path to a sort of highway=road where you know that motor vehicles can’t or are not allowed to pass, but we first need to find a consensus regarding alternative tagging schemes that can replace most highway=path in meaningful ways.
Replacing highway=path with an even more meaningless and ambiguous tag is in my opinion counterproductive.
At this point I would almost recommend a large study into the different uses of highway=path and how these can be categorised into a meaningful scheme of highway=* tags and sub-tags so we can eventually demote highway=path, but that would take an enormous amount of man-hours and more than a few compromises.
… and in the end you can tag the same things, just in a different way, with a large amount of new highway tags with their own implications and in the end the mappers on the ground need to figure out which is the better fit. Like the frequent discussions whether the way leading to a place=isolated_dwelling should be highway=service, residential, unclassified or track where a highway=road + motor_vehicle=destination + surface=asphalt + width=3 would contain all information as well.
Those man-hours would be more wisely invested in thinking of a tagging scheme for those difficult//dangerous ways below highway=path, where you need special skills/equipment.
These discussions are quite a nuisance indeed. Though the local tagging police is quite apt to spot users, that tag highway=service where a highway=residential would be much more appropriate, if the reasoning behind the scenes merely was, to avoid the road renderings in OSM-Carto to not overlap buildings (e.g. where streets are narrow.)
Just the other night I saw a car on the cycleway. It was the police, of course. Regularly, the gardening department drives their Piaggio transporters on paths, be they legally for cycle or foot. Administrative regulations recommend a width of 2.6 m for express cycleways.
UPDATE: 2.6m is for one-directional class A cycleways, bidirectional should get 4m. Both enough for cars, so by definition not path then; Do you suggest it would be more correct then to tag highway=track + bicycle=designated there?
UPDATE 2: Tonight I saw a car on the footway, again the police. They definately do not use OSM as a base for their navi.