Roads within urban areas/city

I started mapping about a month ago for my area. But am a bit confused about the classification of roads within city areas. In my city we refer to roads as primary, secondary etc, but if I look at the wiki of openstreetmap, the secondary road is determined as a road that connects to large towns, not within a street

So, what is the best tagging for roads within city areas?

Thank you, Toni

Hi Toni,

while it is common and makes sense imho to continue primary and secondary roads where they lead through a city (instead of tagging them as residential because there are houses next to them), I would wonder if a primary or secondary within the city that ends into some residential roads (i.e. is a dead end with respect to the primary /secondary road network) is correctly mapped.

However it requires local knowledge to judge whether these should not be primary /secondary, or if the primary / secondary is indeed a major road which should be continued.


@g0ldfish thank you for your reply.
I was wondering if it is correct to use secondary and primary tags for roads within the city area, because according to the wiki it is not very clear. It states that it is used for roads that connect cities, not within a city.
But I guess it is correct.

Now, according to our local use (I think it is not that much different any way), a primary road is the road mostly used to travel around the city, but rarely get you to the destination. We call it principal but of course doesn’t make difference. And then are secondary roads which will get you to the destination, once you exit the primary one. And so on.

One question I have is that a primary road within a city, once leaves the city boundary, becomes a secondary road for the interurban connections, because there are two roads for that connection, one is primary the other secondary and they exit in different part of the city. I guess it is normal to tag as secondary ones it leaves the city, but when within city it becomes primary, right?

Thank you, Toni

I think the best way to differ between the highway-classes is the size of the roads. Usually a bigger road (no stopping on intersections, more/wider lanes) has a higher highway=* value. So if two roads look about the same their highway=* is likely the same, even if one of those roads is used more than the other.

I see what you’re saying, so that the software will choose which one is shorter. But in this case one is wider, has more lanes, and has a traffic divider. You can not class it as motorway because still misses other things like restriction of access to other means of transport.
So, down to the point, the two roads that connect two cities, in the interurban section should be tagged one as primary and the other as secondary, but once these two roads enter the city area should be tagged both as primary? Or should I tag both as primary, but differentiate them by number of lanes, width of road in the interurban area?

I don’t get it, could you give a link to those two roads?

Supplemental: Maybe because the Wiki-Page you linked states “A highway linking large towns” you believe a hw=secondary would be supposed to be only between towns and not within them? If so: Just stick to what I explained above, regardless if you’re within or outside a town or settlement.
The order of the highway=* values for roads is basicly as follows:

  • track*

  • service (only very small driveways, mostly not public roads)

  • residential

  • unclassified

  • tertiary

  • secondary

  • primary

  • trunk*

  • motorway*

*special conditions for those types, see the respective Wiki-Page

So such a restricion for the usage of highway=secondary would be a bit strange.

Yes, that’s what confuses me, that according to wiki it is used to link towns.
Thank you for your extended explanation, I understand it better now :).

I am posting you the link I am talking about
There, from city of Tirana, there are two main roads that exit and are bound to the city of Durres. One of them is marked as motorwaym, the one denominated SH2, but it is wrong in my opinion because physically it is not on that class. The other one, denominated “Rruga Kavajes”, is a normal road.

But now I do understand it better. Thank you again.

To me (being somenone from germany) that looks to strange to give an really good specific advise. What’s a tertiary there looks like a primary here. Maybe your government should consider a better public transport :wink:

For the SH2 have a look at highway=trunk if it’s not a motorway.

Absolutely right. But great efforts have been made, specially in the last decade, things are changing a lot :).

Thank you for help, greatly appreciated.