Usage of highway=living_street + service=alley in residential areas

What is the correct way to tag roads located inside a gated residential community?

The majority in Chiang Mai has been tagged as [highway=residential + access=private], however, I noticed quite many have been changed or added as [living_street] or [service+alley].

This is confusing and could be misleading for new mappers.

A) [highway=living_street]

Is this a common use case in Thailand? If yes:

  • is there a default legal maximum speed (explicit) we could add to the global wiki country table?
  • since most were added using only satellite imagery, how would you be able to decide between [residential] and [living_street] ?

B) [service=alley]

I have also come across many [highway=service + service=alley] in rural villages while doing ground surveys and all of them were narrow roads with permanent housing on at least one side:

  • most could fit a small car
  • a few could not

Based on the latest wiki update regarding minor road classification, I believed it was not tagged appropriately, so I changed them to:

  • [highway=residential + lanes=1]
  • [highway=path + motorcycle=yes]

However, I realized I should have asked first your opinion before changing them:

Besides its main purpose to access utilities, can [service+alley] be used in Thailand for narrow roads in residential areas/gated communities or any other road purposes?

For living_street, the former discussion seems like we should not used it in Thailand. By the way, stating it in the wiki is maybe too explicit, because it could be an appropriate case somewhere in Thailand, though it could be quite rare.

For service=alley, the former discussion appears that we are unable to reach an agreement. I strongly oppose using this for the main access to the residence. The use, rather than the width of the road, should be used to define the highway=* tag. But if the road is too narrow for a motor car to pass, changing it to highway=path is acceptable because the use is different.

I doubt there are many actual living_streets as defined in the Wiki in Thailand. However, there are mappers in Thailand who use the tag despite the cautions in the Wiki. I much prefer highway=residential with subtags to further characterize the way in question; width, lanes, surface, max_speed. etc., if it’s located inside a gated community. Also, instead of access=private which would cause many routers to refuse to use those ways, I’ve begun to use ownership=private to tag driveways leaving the access tag out entirely. Perhaps that scenario could also be used for the residential streets within gated_communities. Many residential areas that are commonly called mubans in Thailand, I outline if possible and tag with place=neighborhood, name=*, and gated_community=yes.

Using service=ally is fine if it fits the description in the Wiki, which I agree with in general. Again, however, you’ll find some mappers in Thailand who use this tag a lot. See the thread referenced above by nitinatsangsit to get a picture of the long-running controversy.

My 2 bhat contribution!

nitinatsangsit, AlaskaDave, as always thank you for your input and the reference to the old discussions.

I would like to clarify further the perhaps misconceptions about the [service=alley] wiki page, which I believed its content may have been updated in the last few years:

  1. description on the right explains the main purpose of the road is access to utilities
  1. first section reiterates the same:
  1. second section is a special case for some medieval streets in Europe (not Thailand) where the main purpose is public through
  1. third section is a special case for narrow alleys in the USA (not Thailand)

As far as I can see, there are absolutely no [service=alley] definitions that match a narrow residential road in Thailand, specifically these facing the front entrance of buildings.

I agree.

To add to your list of places having actual service=alley ways, Anchorage, Alaska has them as well. Used for access to garages, utilities, etc. Same with Eugene, Oregon, two places I’m fairly familiar with. These alleys fit the Wiki definition perfectly.

Where is the like button when you need it :wink:


Regarding [highway=living_street], further official quotes from global wiki:

While I don’t deny living_street could be useful in special cases (I know at least a couple of dead-end streets it could apply based on local knowledge),
using it commonly for standard, through-access, roads in gated communities goes against any of these definitions.

  • Would you let your kids play unattended in the streets of your Mu Ban?
  • Would you prevent a navigation router from reaching your house in your Mu Ban?
  • Is there known legislation/signage granting pedestrians priority over cars in your Mu Ban?


For a living_street, as stated in wiki, it may be subject to some law, which is not the case in Thailand.