Conflicting global wiki definitions for deciding between tracks and paths based on passability

Background: in Thailand, there are many old graded tracks that have been downgraded to highway=path due to obstacles, vegetation, and the perception they may not be passable by motorcars.

When these tracks are downgraded to highway=path without additional tags (tracktype, width), we lose the information that this is a wide “path” which:

  • may still be passable for specialized off-road vehicles like super heavy-duty 4WDs, ATVs…
  • is a lot easier to navigate for 2-wheel vehicles (MTB, dirt bike) than a narrow nature trail.

While tracktype and smoothness are understood by routers and commonly used by renderers, width isn’t.

According to Tag:highway=track - OpenStreetMap Wiki

Some examples where highway=track is generally not appropriate:

  • trail or path that is not wide enough for a typical four-wheeled motor vehicle [2]

[2] A “typical four-wheeled motor vehicle” means a general purpose or average motor vehicle commonly used in a given region. The size and capability of what is considered a typical, common, or average vehicle varies around the world.

For Thailand, this would mean that if a track is not passable by the standard high-clearance pickup truck (often not 4wd), it should be tagged instead as a path.

However, according to Key:smoothness - OpenStreetMap Wiki

In this case, it would mean that an old track only passable by ATVs or dirt bikes could be kept with highway=track + smoothness=very_horrible, and another track only passable by heavy-duty 4WD can be tagged as highway=track + smoothness=horrible

So which is which?

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Ce sujet de discussion accompagne la publication sur https://community.openstreetmap.org/t/conflicting-global-wiki-definitions-for-deciding-between-tracks-and-paths-based-on-passability/4540