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When a trail is not a "trail"

On a recent drive across part of the American Midwest, I laughed quietly to myself as I saw signs along the interstate for "Lewis and Clark Trail." "Trails make great Wayspots, I should take some pictures and nominate them!

These "trail" markers do not indicate a walking trail, but rather a "scenic byway" driving route. Similar routes I have seen include the "Dragoon Trail" and the "Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail." These typically take people past historic locations and would be great at helping identify nearby points of interest, however the signs themselves are generic, mass produced, and in some cases located only several hundred meters apart. They do not encourage outdoor exploration in the way that a hiking/walking trail would, but do encourage (in theory) exploration of local culture and history.

Should "trail markers" such as this be allowed, assuming they are not on an interstate/highway and have adequate safe pedestrian access? Locally, similar signs have sidewalks as they run through business districts and residential areas, before often leaving the suburbs and going to a strictly motor vehicle highway.


  • flatmatt-PGOflatmatt-PGO Posts: 2,088 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2020

    When I see something like this, I generally do some research to find out if it's a walking trail, a bike trail, or a motor trail (or whatever). If it's primarily a motor trail, I reject (even if the sign itself has pedestrian access). The signs don't really help you explore if you're on foot, which is what Wayfarer tends to be looking for.

    (This could be different for signs indicating a particular place of interest on such a trail, of course, but for signs just indicating "this road is along the route," I say not eligible.)

  • welzy08-PGOwelzy08-PGO Posts: 113 ✭✭

    September 2020 AMA Answer. By the way.

    How should we determine which trail markers are eligible and which are ineligible?

    • As long as the marker represents a trail it should be accepted. It should be something that is on the path of the trail, helps people find the path, has the trail name and is permanent. If it seems like the marker is temporary or is fake or placed just to get a Wayspot in place, reviewers can mark it as abuse for further review. 

    Means they would be valid..... Has a trail name. Has a path. Helps people find the trail. It isn't temporary.

    No where in Niantic's response says you have to explore on foot! If it's a trail marker and has a trail name on it, it is valid.

  • 0X00FF00-ING0X00FF00-ING Posts: 769 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Regardless of being a "trail", I'd still call that a spot interesting enough to become a wayspot. It even highlights a historic local event. Calling it a "trail" is a stretch, but it is still the official name of the thing. The biggest hitch in submitting it would be confirming that there's pedestrian access.

    There is a trail that wanders through several cities in my province, with some sections that are eligible and some that wouldn't be:

    The appearance of the signs are mostly like this:

    with a few variations, some having "Great Lakes" on them, some not.

    There are some bicycle-only stretches of the trail along local highways and service roads, those spots are mostly ineligible. There are some bits where they go through local parks on walking trails, those are absolutely eligible.

    And SOME of the spots are just following city roadways, but THOSE are eligible if they're at a sidewalk (at those points, the trail is simultaneously "the road" for the bicycles and "the sidewalk" for pedestrians). However, MANY of those in-the-city spots also happen to violate the within-40m-of-PRP rule, and may easily trigger the PRP exclusions.

    IF these trails only had the icon and not the text "Waterfront Trail" on them? It's a unique symbol that clearly identifies the trail. I would like to insist that Niantic considers them eligible, but the exact wording that's been repeated in multiple AMAs would exclude them. But we've never managed to get an answer out of @NianticCasey-ING that would allow a yes-this-is-a-pedestrian-trail yes-it-has-a-uniquely-identifiable-symbol-for-the-trail no-it-doesn't-actually-name-the-trail-on-the-sign to be eligible.

  • welzy08-PGOwelzy08-PGO Posts: 113 ✭✭

    Nothing in guidance says a bike cycle trail isn't eligible. People can still explore and get exercise on bicycles. They are still trail markers.

  • 0X00FF00-ING0X00FF00-ING Posts: 769 ✭✭✭✭✭

    We were explicitly told that trails for only-bicycles would not be eligible. If pedestrians are not allowed, then it's not "safe pedestrian access". If pedestrians are not forbidden from walking the same trail (for safety reasons), then that's not the issue.

    The specific hypothetical issue I called out above is when such a sign is on the side of a local highway or service road. There are NO sidewalks at such spots, and only "vehicles" are allowed. This is by definition "no safe pedestrian access".

  • welzy08-PGOwelzy08-PGO Posts: 113 ✭✭
    edited October 2020

    Your Source?

    Actually previous ama responses and in the "Resource for reviewers" in the news section states otherwise by pedestrian access by Nianticcasey. Grass is acceptable for people to stand on. It was asked previously that grass for standing is allowed because some countries don't have sidewalks.

  • welzy08-PGOwelzy08-PGO Posts: 113 ✭✭
    edited October 2020

    What people forget is "local laws". If it is a permanent trail it is already governed by local laws. Historical Trails are also governed by the Local Historical Societies and other branches of the local government as well. I feel you are describing pedestrian access wrong.

    Star-Spangled Banner Trail Marker.

    It has sidewalks and large grass areas for where the path is actually located. The route is over 200 years old. The actual star spangled banner song for the USA, is what we are discussing, as it was used for originally by Francais Scott Key the poet. It's the route!

  • 0X00FF00-ING0X00FF00-ING Posts: 769 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2020

    So in MY jurisdiction, if I were walking down either the highway or service road on foot, I can be arrested. For walking there. Because it's literally unsafe, the speed limit being 80km/h and all (approx 50mph). If you run out of gas, you're much better off calling the CAA (Canada's "AAA") or a tow truck.

    Legally, bicycles are "vehicles" and are still allowed on "most" highways, anything smaller than the 400-series highways here (speed limit 100+km/h or 60mph, roughly equivalent in size to Interstates, now usually with 3 lanes each direction), and signage about that is at most entrances to such highways.

    And there ARE some of those Waterfront Trail signs along that part of the route (along the 80km/h service roads). The bicycles can be there, but not pedestrians.

    Does your jurisdiction have the same rules? Maybe, maybe not. But it'll be up to you to PROVE the pedestrian-safeness for your submission, and not just spout weird/obscure wayfarer rules.

    Which still does not refute my single point that you are arguing against, in your weird little "I have an edge case here that possibly only applies in this one spot and not the general case you're describing" argument. Still:

    1. If there is no safe pedestrian access, the location cannot be a wayspot
    2. There is no 2.
  • welzy08-PGOwelzy08-PGO Posts: 113 ✭✭
  • welzy08-PGOwelzy08-PGO Posts: 113 ✭✭

    A sidewalk shouldn't even be questioned for pedestrian access.

    I think you are more concern where grass and road is mixed. My state, it is fine to pull over to not be driving with your phone. So actually we can use the shoulder to pull over and learn about history.

  • 0X00FF00-ING0X00FF00-ING Posts: 769 ✭✭✭✭✭

    You continue to withhold the specific location of your marker, so yours is at best hypothetical. The ciock is ticking, nobody else is likely to take your argument seriously at this rate.

    Without us being able to verify what reviewers will see on Google Satellite and/or Street View, oh well case closed. If it's on the side of the highway, no amount of "my jurisdiction has weird rules that only happen to apply here" arguing in your support text will be taken seriously by reviewers.

  • flatmatt-PGOflatmatt-PGO Posts: 2,088 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2020

    The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is one I've seen several times and always approved (so long as it has pedestrian access, isn't on PRP, etc.). Never seen it without the name, though.

    I suppose by a strict reading of the latest AMA, signs for motor "trails" would be eligible. But I just can't imagine that something like what was posted in the original post is the type of thing the Wayfarer team is thinking of when they say to approve "trail markers." Also, what about similar routes that don't happen to use the word "trail" in the name, like the Great Lakes Circle Tour ( Would that be eligible, or would it not work since it's a "tour" instead of a "trail?"

  • 0X00FF00-ING0X00FF00-ING Posts: 769 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The “Circle Tour” one is literally a cycling route, following roadways and trails both. People can and do go out of their way to come to the region JUST to be able to bike the route.

    I haven’t actually seen any signage for it in person, and can’t speak to any specific spot. But in general the same applies here as I’ve already said: spots (with the signage) that have safe pedestrian access would be allowed. Spots that are along highways where it’s not safe to walk, still nope.

    I imagine that most signs will be at intersections, and it’s probably more likely that those spots are more likely to be safe for pedestrians, and may even have visible crosswalks?

    In both cases, the bike tour and OP’s trail, neither is a “trail” but both are culturally interesting enough to be wayspots on their own merits.

    1. if it’s pedestrian-safe
    2. there is still no number 2.
  • flatmatt-PGOflatmatt-PGO Posts: 2,088 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The Circle Tours are road-based. The signs are frequently seen on expressways like I-75, where bikes are most certainly not allowed. (Perhaps you're confusing it with the aforementioned Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, which most definitely is a bicycle trail?)

  • TorvoTeratos-PGOTorvoTeratos-PGO Posts: 161 ✭✭✭

    I've skipped reading most the thread, so I'm just throwing in my $0.02. My main concern with a trail of this type would be pedestrian access. If there's pullover points for observation, then a sign along one of those would be valid. If it's just a sign along a road with no sidewalk, then I would reject for lack of pedestrian access. I need to be able to get to the stop by more than just driving by in my car.

  • 0X00FF00-ING0X00FF00-ING Posts: 769 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The Great Lakes Circle Tour made a big hoopla when they finally made it “complete” — 100% accessible by bicycle. Here’s a map.

    I still haven’t seen any of its signage in person and cannot speak to what they look like, if the route is “named” on the signs, or if the signs are located at pedestrian-friendly spots. But from this map, “most” of it is accessible (where it follows shared-use trails).

    This one is not listed on the above website.

  • flatmatt-PGOflatmatt-PGO Posts: 2,088 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2020

    Okay, this appears to be something different, unrelated to the Great Lakes Circle Tour. The Great Lakes Circle Tour goes all the way around Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie. Quite a bit bigger than what you linked to.

    (For what it's worth, I have also read that the GLCT signage in Ontario has not been well-maintained, which may add to the confusion.)

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