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

I compared different maps and how they route narrow roads.
Soi Chana Songkhram was mentionned What is the recommended tagging approach for routing narrow residential roads? - #11 by ftrebien
This is a max. 2.50 metres wide road tagged as highway=service. The oneway tag is missing in OSM. Way: ‪ซอยชนะสงคราม‬ (‪550732347‬) | OpenStreetMap

OpenStreetMap car routing

Both HERE maps and Google maps avoid this road for car navigation although the Google street car has driven through.

motorcar=destination could be used for a narrow residential road that routers mistakenly use for transit/shortcut. This is tagging for the router I believe.

residential road or alley?
It does look strange on the map when a 2.5 metres wide road is rendered the same as a regular 5 metres wide road. But that is what HERE and Google also show. I would have liked this solution: highway=residential + narrow=yes. The wiki says that narrow=yes will render waterways smaller. It does nothing for highways.

I usually tag narrow residential roads this way:
highway=path for a road too narrow for a city car
highway=service + service=alley for a road between approx. 2 and 3 metres
highway=residential + lanes-tag for roads of more than 3 metres.

I don’t use it. I use highway=residential instead


Thanks for your research, Mark_B!

I’m curious why Soi Chana Songkhram was used as an example. Historically, it’s never been labeled as service=alley, and on Google Street View, it’s clearly marked as one-way on the north side.

Anyway, today I added extra tags: width=2.5 + lanes=1 + narrow=yes without changing the highway=service classification. I’ll report back in a few days once the routing data has been processed.

In the meantime, please take a look at another example in Bangkok:

It’s tagged as a narrow bidirectional residential road with highway=residential + lanes=1 + width=2.5 + oneway=no.

Though the width and choice of highway tag are debatable (motorcycle path ?), the default OSM Router completely avoids it in both directions:

Here’s a proper narrow residential road in Chiang Mai tagged as highway=residential + lanes=1:

Routing from beginning to end of this Soi shows the router avoids it completely in both directions:

Another example is here:

Again, routing from beginning to end of this Soi shows the router avoids it completely in both directions:

Conclusion: These results indicate to me that the argument of tagging for the router is unfounded since the default OSM router already supports additional tags like lanes, width, and even narrow:

Sure, other routers may need better support, but we can all contribute to improving this together (see below).

Absolutely right, and you know what? Renderers and routers aren’t set in stone; they can be improved over time, whether through tags like narrow or lanes=1, or other means.

But software won’t improve without people submitting feedback and improvement requests.

I personally believe that as regular OSM contributors, community members, and end-users, we bear the responsibility of enhancing the OSM ecosystem, making it a better environment for everyone, including new mappers.

The easy way out is to tag for the renderer/router and repurpose tags meant for something else.

However, as you can see, this often leads to long-term contentious issues, edit wars, and a lot of wasted efforts that could have been directed towards improving the softwares instead.

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Update: I’ve submitted proposals for:

Feel free to add your likes and comments on the provided links to help raise visibility for these suggestions! Your engagement is much appreciated.

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On a final note, I want to thank everyone who has responded in this long thread, including our fellow mappers based in Brazil and the Philippines.

I believe there should be already ample information within this and other threads for every member of the Thailand community to make an informed decision.

So let’s proceed with the vote:

How should narrow residential roads be tagged in Thailand?
  • highway=residential along with any additional tags (lanes=1, width, narrow=yes, …) that will be gradually supported by routers/renderers
  • highway=service + service=alley for bidirectional residential roads with a width less than 3 meters
  • highway=service + service=alley for bidirectional residential roads with a width less than 4 meters
0 voters

Important: the vote is exclusively for regular Thailand contributors and community members. Any votes from outside this group will not be counted. Thank you for your understanding!

These are only two data consumers. Both are prominent but not as dominant as they used to be. It’s quite reasonable to start there and build momentum with additional data consumers, but you might want to shop around this idea a bit more broadly just in case. Some other prominent renderers include Shortbread and OpenMapTiles.

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Will this change anything for residential roads too narrow for a car? These are currently highway=path.

No, this vote only concerns narrow residential roads. A “road” is considered wide enough for a standard 4-wheel vehicle (2+ meters). A “path” would be narrower.

Residential “paths” do exist in Thailand and are currently documented as highway=path based on global practices, but we can definitely revisit this here or in one of the older wiki revision thread.

I hope you enjoyed the Songkran holidays!

Just a heads up, I plan to close the vote on Sunday evening and will outline the next steps based on the results.

To all our Thailand contributors and community members: if you haven’t yet voted, please make sure to cast your vote.


Thank you to everyone who participated in the vote. It’s great to see also members from locally active companies such as TomTom and Grab adding their voice!

With over 75% of votes favoring highway=residential, we have a clear and strong consensus to proceed:

  • Narrow residential roads in Thailand should be tagged as highway=residential, with any additional relevant tags (like lanes=1, width=*, narrow=yes, etc.), which will increasingly be supported by routing and rendering software.

  • The tag service=alley should be reserved exclusively for service roads that provide access to utilities between properties —a scenario that’s relatively rare in Thailand.

These decisions had been already previously documented in the wiki, so I’ve updated it with a note about this vote: Urban and Local Road wide enough for motor cars

When correcting roads previously tagged as service=alley or reviewing new ones, please kindly communicate with the original mapper who may not be aware of the Thailand guidelines.

@Russ_McD : I sincerely hope you’ll accept the community consensus so we can move forward and focus on other important issues.

Considering the inconsistent way lanes and widths have been applied in your use of service=alley, and the fact that you’ve added or changed over the years thousands (*) of narrow residential roads in Thailand to highway=service+service=alley, we’ll probably need to mechanically switch them all back to highway=residential with no extra tags to give them a clean slate.

(*): as of today, 5919 combined classification changes and new additions.