RfC: New Key foot_scale=* ("now for something a bit recreational")

I’ve added 25 example images to the gallery: User:Hungerburg/FootScaleGallery#Adam_Franco

There are at least 4 example photos in each category and I’ve sorted them in order of their walking difficulty within each bucket to show a possible spectrum covered by each bucket. A few are of the same spot from multiple angles. Hopefully these will provide good fodder for discussion and maybe a few can serve as canonical examples. Most are currently tagged highway=path, but a few are track, service, residential, etc.

Note that most of my examples for impeded_walking and not_walkable (as well as a few surefooted_walking examples) are segments of the Long Trail, Vermont’s oldest and longest hiking route. The Long Trail is a very popular route for day hikes and multi-week backpacking and these segments are expected to be traversed on foot and are not considered to be technical climbing.

I generally agree with your classifications. Thanks!

It would be good if someone could contribute some examples where other things cause difficulty in walking, e.g. overgrowth of vegetation (in addition to roots). The difficulties around here are mainly due to rocks, so are similar to your examples.

The descriptive bits truncated from those two in the nested quote describe clambering or climbing activities in my mind, not walking.

If we approve these tags we need to put a massive warning on the path page that it is now considered the non-vehicular version of highway=road and that no software or data consumer should consider it in any way suitable or traverable in any way without further tags.

I’ve added a set of pictures, but I also have a more general question for all of you: the original idea for this key was that it could be used as a more fine-grained description than sac_scale (and at the same time more globally applicable). The criticism of sac_scale was that it combines too many attributes into one: technique / terrain, exposure, slope, recommended footwear… foot_scale was meant to only cover how “technical” a walk is, with other attributes that make a path or hike difficult (e.g. exposure) covered separate keys.

More recent descriptions sounds a little different:

Are we still trying to make sure that the value only describes technique, and that, for example, exposure doesn’t factor into the foot_scale rating? If so, then we should try to find some pictures of paths/tracks/steps/… that are very exposed but casual_walking - if you can manage to ignore the huge cliff next to you - and the opposite, ones where you have to use your hands so much they are not_walkable even though they are not exposed at all.

To be honest, even if we don’t approve those highway=path on its own without other tags is pretty much useless already. You know that there’s something there, but it might just be a cow trail that someone’s seen on aerial imagery.


I should be able to get some up this evening.

I’ve added this example of the trail behind Kaaterskill Falls. It’s attentive_walking rather than casual_walking, but there is quite serious exposure even though the technique required is very easy and the surface very good under foot.

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Based on the diversity of current usage, this would be a good warning to have on the wiki page already, regardless of what happens with foot_scale.


Yes, I don’t think that this proposal changes anything for highway=path. As I understand it, the tag could be applied to any walkable way including e.g. footway and track as well as path, plus any new tag that might be adopted in future for more difficult paths/scrambles. The proposal does not aim to redefine any top level tag. So while there are certainly issues around the scope of highway=path, I think they are separate from this proposal.

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In my opinion, C1A is an outlier. I reworded specification. Does it still apply? Do we need C0A? How to word that?

Maybe like casual vs. formal dress – So formal_walking (high-gown or wedding-dress: high-heels, ball-room shoes, business-suit?)

@erutan I created a slice for you and your pictures. Are you fluent in mediawiki? commons?

I’m not sure how C1A is an outlier. It’s narrower than most of the other casual_walking examples (you’re not going to be pushing a wheelchair along it or walking side-by-side), but it’s smooth, packed dirt. If you’ve got high heels you’re willing to have get dirty, you won’t have any trouble, particularly in the summer when the ground is dry.

I agree that C1A is still within casual_walking scale. I have more problem with C4A – a couple of fallen trees (which will last only for a season or so if the trail has any maintenance) on an otherwise flat and smooth trail does not constitute a real “impediment”.

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At the same time, fallen trees do not not constitute an impediment :grinning:
If it’s happening every year and trees are there for month, maybe it’s worth considering.

Depends on the size of the tree! :scream:

Looking through posted pictures, I now see the need for that too, as casual spans a too broad class of ways - from 2+m wide concrete paved promenade to less than half a meter wide dirt path where grasses hang in. In my opinion pointing at bad design: One bucket takes 90% of the load.

I termed it just “walking”. A value, that rarely will get tagged, just there as a bottom anchor, User:Hungerburg/FootScaleGallery - OpenStreetMap Wiki – This matches, I can only guess though, what lots of consumers envision when they encounter a bare footway or path in the data, most recently spotted with the StreetsGL renderer.

If there is consensus here, I will update all the headers in the gallery, but not the pictures – so this will create work for contributors.

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Does File:Steig Seebergspitze.jpg - OpenStreetMap Wiki hit the same nail? I put it under attentive, some posters here might put it under casual, local guides likely put it under surefooted.


While I can see a possible distinction between a casual walking way and one that requires even less attention from the walker, I’m not sure how useful this distinction would be. Simply calling this “walking” doesn’t seem right to me as this encompasses the whole scale (except for “not walkable”). I might call it inattentive, unconscious, or distracted walking since the surface is so flat and smooth that people can walk without even looking where they are going or paying any attention at all! However, I’m not sure how useful this distinction is. Plus we already have the smoothness tag that can specify this fine detail where casual walking covers a broad range.


I thought all along that casual walking was the bottom anchor. I feel like splitting this further is taking this away from the original focus on walking technique, and starting to overlap with things like surface or width.

It is not necessarily a problem if 90 per cent of of paths fall into the same bucket if that represents reality, just as it is not a problem if 90 per cent of the streets in a city are highway=residential.


If there is a distinct usability difference then I’m fine with adding a lower level to the scale, but I’m not completely convinced that it is needed.

The only use-case I can think of is for weak/elderly/infirm folks walking with an assistive frame, parents pushing a baby carriage/stroller/pram. These users may be able to mount a curb or step that would exclude a path from being wheelchair=yes, but would still prefer a wider and more even surface than some of the examples that are narrow but without tripping hazards. This bottom level could be a synonym for smoothness=good|excellent + width>=1m + surface=paved|compacted|....

Because all of the levels are “walking”, I feel that a new bottom anchor absolutely requires a modifier word to indicate that this is the bottom anchor rather than a catch-all for unknown walking difficulty. Something like “easiest_walking” or “trivial_walking”.

Alternatively, casual_walking could be specified to have a minimum width of 1 meter (or similar threshold) as anything less than that would require some attention to not deviate from the good surface and therefor shift the way into attentive_walking.