User talk:Rodhullandemu

Public footpathsEdit

Another problem, which relates to both the above threads - not every footpath is a public footpath. Public footpaths have a very precise definition, but does not match our current categories. To list some of our current difficulties: There are no such things as Public footpaths in Scotland; National Trails and Recreational Routes are not public footpaths, but routes that sometimes follow them; Bridleways are not public footpaths, but a separate designation.

Please see Commons:Categories for discussion/2014/04/Category:Public footpaths in the United Kingdom.--Nilfanion (talk) 09:44, 30 March 2016 (UTC)

I would agree with ghouston (talk · contribs) that it would be a lot of work to determine which routes are actually public footpaths for very little benefit, and in doing this work recently I have come to the conclusion that the distinction is somewhat moot to our users. I don't believe editors have been putting footpaths into Category:Public footpaths in the United Kingdom with any basis of knowledge, more on the basis of "well, it's in a public place". I have no objection to moving all the categories in Scotland to Category:Footpaths in Scotland. Rodhullandemu (talk) 13:21, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
I tend to agree, and the entire thing should be streamlined (with public footpaths and bridleways cats both being removed). Re-creating categories for the formally designated right of way is possible but that has to be a low-priority task - and if these cannot be curated effectively, they may be actively harmful (people assuming a public right of way exists, because we say it does, when it doesn't in fact exist). Time is better spent on the useful stuff - like identifying the notable named routes.
My gut feeling is to split roads (including unsurfaced roads) from non-roads (including footpaths and cyclepaths); and leave it there. Basically the distinction is - is it a motor vehicle route? If yes, its a road. If its not a road, then its the other thing - whatever name we use. Trail is possibly the best term.--Nilfanion (talk) 21:50, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
Most of the confusion that seems to have arisen is a misunderstanding of what a "trail" is- I think it's meant to be a long-distance route primarily for walkers, but some bot or other has overloaded it with green lanes, farm tracks and other things which do not fit that definition. Of course a route may be many things along its length: public footpaths, bridleways, roads, etc, and I think we could sensibly keep bridleways as a separate category, after all, they are verifiable from local highway authority records. Category:Bikeways in the United Kingdom I think is also defensible beyond having the various Category:National Cycle Network routes. Once I've finished sorting out Category:Trails in the United Kingdom and its children, I'll go on to Scotland and make all Category:Public footpaths in Scotland into Category:Footpaths in Scotland. Rodhullandemu (talk) 22:00, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
Reason I say get rid of bridleways for now is two-fold: Firstly, I do not trust the content, any more than I trust the content of footpaths or trails. Furthermore, they are barely distinguishable from footpaths in many cases - and the majority of bridleway images are probably included within public footpath categories at present. Splitting bridleways from footpaths may be possible, but is both probably a non-useful distinction for end users and is exposed to similar risks as with footpaths (a bridleway is a public right of way - a permissive bridleway is not).
A few categories are obvious: Railways; roads; Cycle routes (including the NCN); Long distance trails (ie National Trails and Recreational Routes). Beyond that it gets awkward and I'm not keen on trying to split "paths" (for want of a better term) further, unless there's an obvious function as there is for towpaths.--Nilfanion (talk) 22:21, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
Oh and I'd be very cautious about saying trail means "long-distance route". I am not convinced that trail implies "long distance" by itself, and see it more as just a near-synonym of track or path. Its more that the word is often used when naming a route; I can think of several that are under a mile long.--Nilfanion (talk) 22:42, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
It's difficult when English usage varies so much. I was brought up to believe that a "footpath" is what Americans call a "sidewalk", a paved walking path at the side of a street, and an unpaved path is a "track". Category:Trails says that it's for "rough"/mostly unformed routes, but perhaps that could be extended to include any unpaved path that isn't intended for use by vehicles. Then we also have paved paths that aren't necessarily at the side of streets, and which may be cycleways as well as footpaths. --ghouston (talk) 01:46, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
Then Category:Walking paths seems like mostly a duplicate Category:Trails although with possible paved paths. --ghouston (talk) 01:53, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
Then we have Category:Hiking trails. The same as a long-distance path? --ghouston (talk) 01:56, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
At the global level, its fairly obvious to me that track, path and trail are sufficiently muddled that we should not use them for separate things. In my opinion the following would be true (within UK):
  • A path may or may not be paved, but is well-defined in the sense that its route is obvious. A sidewalk (US English, for clarity) is not a path. They are accessible on foot, and are not used by motor vehicles. They may or may not be suitable for bikes and horses.
  • A track is never well-surfaced. It may include rough tracks through woodland, that are little more than animal tracks, as well as much broader routes used by agricultural vehicles. Some are not paths, but there is heavy overlap.
  • Trails are routes either specifically laid out, or at least waymarked, with a purpose in mind, and various types possible. These include major long-distance trails, as well as many other things such as nature trails, sensory trails, mountain bike trails... They may be designed for multiple modes of transport, but never motor vehicles. A trail may follow a single path, or multiple paths. If its long-distance it probably follows roads on occasion.
With all this in mind, I'm inclined to entirely avoid the use of the word trail by itself, always referring to a trail by the sort of trail it is. That would allow merging of Category:Paths and Category:Trails, with the various trail types as sub-categories. As for tracks,Category:Tracks is a disambig (OK), with the relevant concept pointing at trails (not OK). If that points to a combined paths/trail category, that would probably suffice.--Nilfanion (talk) 09:05, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

Rodhullandemu, please do not make Category:Trails in the United Kingdom solely about long-distance walking routes, as they are not the only sort of trail in the country. Ideally the long-distance trails will form a sub-category - that distinguishes them from other trail types. Also its worth making a distinction between categories of long-distance routes. The biggest distinction there is between modern waymarked routes (eg the North Downs Way), and ancient pathways (eg the Pilgrim's Way) At the same time, purging most of the bot-placed files (of green lanes and so on) is a good thing :)--Nilfanion (talk) 22:08, 2 April 2016 (UTC)

I think it makes sense to clear all the dross from Trails in the United Kingdom and maybe then see how "trails" can be subdivided. Not all the trails I've found are by any means long-distance, but I've no idea yet where to draw the line, if at all. There seems to be a type of "National Trails" which implies there should be "Local Trails", but it's too early to tell. Rodhullandemu (talk) 22:21, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
Long-distance walking routes, are shown with diamond markings on OS maps and called "recreational routes". They are typically have names and are waymarked on the ground. National Trails are a distinct subset of those. But my concern here is trails are not always about long-distance walking. They can have a very different purpose, such as nature trails and sculpture trails. They can also be non-walking routes - ie cycling or horse only. Please bear that in mind, both in clearing the junk and in categorisation.--Nilfanion (talk) 22:41, 2 April 2016 (UTC)


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