Today, the mapathon challenge is to check the map for hiking and mountain bike trails that are mapped as multi-use trails or bike paths.
To a map reader, it’s intuitive that a trail plunging down a mountainside is unlikely paved, unless it says otherwise. However for a computer program reading the data, it’s more of a challenge. According to the latest version of OSM Can-BICS, Canada has more than 34,000 km of paths and trails with tags indicating that bicycling happens there. That’s a lot! There are many pushes to map recreational trails, bikepacking, and gravel routes. Many of these are missing the surface tag. While we love unpaved trails and we use desire lines to get us where we want to go, it’s important to add surface tags so that people who need solid surfaces can find them.
As an example of why paved surfaces are important, in Vancouver, many people use the paved bikeway at Trout Lake to push strollers, as a solid place to walk, for their walkers, and for wheelchairs (note that the pathway is signed as a slow street, so the space is supposed to be shared. If we map these out - and the lack of places with hard surfaces to walk on - it helps the advocacy case for more space to ride separated from other modes).