Primary Street Discussion

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Primary Street Discussion

Postby Riamus » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:05 pm

Due to some debate over the use of primary streets in Michigan, I'd like to bring this to open discussion.

Some roads have been recently marked as primary streets that I do not believe to be primary. These include (but are not limited to) Van Rd, Robinson Rd (west of US-31 where it isn't a county highway), and Brutus Rd/Burt Lake Rd. Also are the roads between Burt Lake and Mullett Lake and heading north toward Cheboygan from there. The Wiki states that primary streets are the main routes within a town or city. The marked roads are not within a town or city though they may touch a town or city for a small part of the road. Van Rd is really not a main route anywhere other than to someone's house. Burt Lake Rd for a large part of it is just a lake front property road that is far from a direct route anywhere. And Robinson Rd west of US-31 is only really used for getting to someone's house or as a way to get to Harbor Springs (going out to S Pleasantview Rd). Now, perhaps you could argue that Robinson is a main route to get to Harbor Springs from Pellston at least as far as S Pleasantview Rd, but it still isn't within a town or city and I still don't really consider it a primary road even after living there for years. But I could possibly be okay with that one. The others though are certainly not primary roads by any definition.

Just to get the discussion started, I'll note the reasons given to me supporting marking these and then let him add more detail as desired. 1) The map looks blank without them. 2) It helps drivers find roads that are plowed first in the winter.

In my opinion, a primary street would be something like Main St in Cheboygan or Petoskey (if those weren't state highways already). It would also be like Nicolet St, Central Ave, and N Huron Ave in Mackinaw City that are correctly marked as primary streets. They are basically streets that are main roads within town.

Yes, the map may look blank in northern Michigan because there are far fewer highways than in more populated areas. That isn't a good reason to start bumping up road classifications. And if we start raising the classification for plowing, then the entire city of Petoskey (and others) would be primary streets other than in Bay View.

Anyhow, discussion is appreciated.

Edited for error in street name and to add the following.

Townline Rd in Cheboygan also shouldn't be a primary street in my opinion. It is certainly not a main route for anyone unless they live on the road. Anyone traveling through town will use the state highway.
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Re: Primary Street Discussion

Postby robc007 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:41 pm

The bottom line is that the map was not usable when I went up there this summer. At-speed zoom level only showed me I-75 and a state highway (if any). By zooming into the street level, I couldn't see enough of the map to navigate effectively.

Adding the county highways helped slightly.

Still, there were no primary streets in the area, so I've been adding primary streets from the MDOT map.

I don't agree with the resistance to using primary streets. We (the local Wazers) are making use of them in the I-94 corridor to great benefit.
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Re: Primary Street Discussion

Postby kentsmith9 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:56 pm

I believe I once heard the Primary streets are used by Waze to route traffic through neighborhoods and towns, verses selecting non primary streets. Therefore you would mark primary streets where the local city maps show collector roads through the town. Visually this is often streets with divider lines or multiple lanes in the same direction.
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Re: Primary Street Discussion

Postby Riamus » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:34 pm

robc007, the resistance isn't the use of them. It is the incorrect use of them in my opinion. You want the map to be useful. I agree. This is why I started work on the county highways that it doesn't appear were mapped previously anywhere that I've seen. There are still many more county highways left to map. Once done, they will very clearly outline the major routes throughout the state (in addition to state and US highways and interstates). Now, with regard to the primary streets you marked, let's just look at one right now. Brutus Rd/Burt Lake Rd. This is basically a route that creates a 90 degree route attached to US-31 and Robinson/Riggsville Rd. After I went to college, my mother lived on Brutus Rd. Do you know how she got to Cheboygan? She went to US-31 and then Robinson/Riggsville. She didn't go down to Burt Lake and up the lake front road. And unless you were around half way down that direction (or further), you wouldn't go that way either. It may be longer to go the other direction, but it's faster and a main road as well. Driving down a curving road next to lake front property is certainly not a primary street.

How about Van Rd? Where do you think that is going to take you other than to someone's house? I suppose Larks Lake? That isn't enough to make it primary. The road basically goes nowhere unless you connect up to another major road such as Pleasantview Rd or Levering Rd. There is no value in marking it as a primary road.

Townline Road in Cheboygan has really no special significance over any other road in Cheboygan. It isn't used more often and isn't routed through in place of the state highway. It is just a secondary road or side street and nothing more.

These are just some examples of why they aren't valid. As I said, I *might* agree with Robinson as far as Pleasantview Rd if someone can provide a good enough reason, but out of the rest, I disagree.

If you are routing in northern Michigan as you said and you are heading up I-75, what are the reasons you need to see the side roads at highway speed? To get somewhere. Where do you plan to go? Pellston? A county highway takes you there. Levering? A county highway takes you there. Cheboygan? A county highway takes you there. Indian River? It's right off the interstate and a state highway goes from there to Cheboygan. Petoskey? A county highway takes you there. Mackinaw City? It's right off the interstate. Onaway? A state highway takes you there.

Prior to mapping the county highways, I agree that it wasn't much use. With the county highways mapped, it becomes far more useful. Yes, more need to be done, but every city I've mentioned is already linked by a mapped county highway except Petoskey that is missing a section since it is out of both of our areas and no one has stepped in to finish mapping it yet. Basically, anywhere you'd need to see on the map at highway speed will be marked clearly once all of the county highways are finished (and any missing state highways if there are any).

When you start mapping regular streets as primary streets, you now start displaying roads that really offer little value and will just clutter the map with basically useless routes. Work on getting all county highways mapped and then look at what main cities or towns cannot be reached using the mapped highways. By "main," I mean not a small town like Bliss, but towns that have a decent number of people in them. Even Bliss can almost be routed to using highways. It's only off by perhaps 5-10 miles. At that time, it can be looked at to see if there are main routes to any towns or cities that don't already connect via the highway system to I-75 and then determine if there is an actual need for primary streets. The ones currently chosen just simply don't offer any real value. At this time, the only ones I'd really agree with are ones like those in Mackinaw City as those really are primary streets there. The way you're doing it, you might as well be marking every street as a primary street because the ones marked hold no value over that of the other streets.
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Re: Primary Street Discussion

Postby sketch » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:41 am

I can't speak for northern Michigan, because I haven't been north of Flint or Port Huron, but I can say that there is a severe lack of Primary Streets in the city of Detroit and perhaps its outlying areas as well. The bar for Primary Street is pretty low, but essentially anything that I would consider a "thru street" qualifies—certainly most streets with center dividing lines qualify, streets with few or no stop signs, streets that have lights instead of stop signs at intersections with major roads. Almost all streets with freeway on/off ramps qualify. I've upgraded a few, but there are a lot more to be done.

It's hard to make a cut and dry rule for primary streets, but it's hard to make a map without them. I think it's a good idea to use them for scenic alternate routes one might take if they don't mind a slower drive, like that bay side road may be.
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Re: Primary Street Discussion

Postby Riamus » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:26 am

I think that's where we have problems. Most editors in Michigan are from southern Michigan where most of the area is urban or at least within a very short distance of a large urban area. Primary streets make a lot of sense within a city or town for the main streets. I've never disagreed with that. In fact, I pointed out that those in Mackinaw City are valid and that if the main roads in Petoskey and Cheboygan weren't already state highways, that they'd qualify as primary streets. For that matter, if the US highway between Mackinaw City and Cheboygan wasn't a US highway, it would also qualify as it's a major route between the two.

The problem is that you can't just mark every long straight stretch of road as a primary street without cause. And that road past Burt Lake isn't any more scenic that dozens of other streets near lakes. There are a lot of lakes and lake roads throughout northern Michigan. Van Rd is certainly not scenic. Nor is the side street in Cheboygan that is basically used only for local traffic who live or are going to a point on that street. Consider this. I lived on N Pleasantview Rd just north of Ely Rd. I worked in Mackinaw City. When I traveled to work, I drove down to Ely Rd and then took US-31 to Mackinaw City. When I came home, I also used Ely Rd and then cut back north to my house. Van Rd wouldn't have required driving the wrong direction and cutting back, but I never used that for work. It just isn't a major route. It has large, steep hills and would kill your gas mileage. Ely Rd was much better and that at the time was dirt for part of it.

I am not against using primary streets, but I think there has to be a good reason. A primary scenic route is one thing and I'm fine with that. Sturgeon Bay Dr could be a valid one if you wanted a scenic road marked, though I'm not positive if it would really be worth doing. But these routes that have been marked have no good reason for doing so other than that they show on the MDOT map.

robc007, can you give any good reason other than that map or that the map is too blank to mark the particular roads that you have marked? Have you driven them and found that there is a good reason for them to be marked? Do you have personal knowledge of them or a resource that provides such information to show that they are worth marking? I lived up there for close to 20 years. Unlike most editors who are used to urban areas where primary streets are a must, I've had the direct experience with rural areas where they don't make as much sense in most locations. Rural areas are not like urban areas and can't really be treated the same way all of the time.
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Re: Primary Street Discussion

Postby sketch » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:56 pm

I've looked around the area you describe. The types around there look about perfect.

The problem here is that you're trying to use the urban/suburban definition for primary streets in cases where it's more appropriate to use the rural definition -- primary streets are collectors that "feed" arterial minor highways, which themselves feed major highways like I-75.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_hierarchy#History

People living off Townline Rd in that subdivision use Townline to get to the nearest arterial highway. In fact, I would say looking at Cheboygan that the primary street type on S / N Western Ave should be extended up to Mackinaw Ave.

Another thing I think your theory is missing is that it states primary streets are to be used for "the main routes within a town or city" -- not just one main route.

And what if you want to go from Pellston to your friend's lake house on Mullett Lake just south of Mullett Burt Rd? Any route which only followed highways would take you completely out of the way. The best route is to take the highway over to E Burt Lake and down Mullett Burt. What's the alternative? Either Riggsville or 75 to whichever end of M-27? Why go so far out of the way?

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https://editor-beta.waze.com/editor/?lo ... TTFTTTTFTT

Last week, I drove from Richmond to a lake house in St Clair. It's a completely due east route along 32 Mile, which is called Division Rd and then Fred W Moore Hwy. It's a 55 mile an hour speed limit pretty much the whole way. Check out the link above.

But Waze didn't give me that route. Waze told me to go up Gratiot all the way to Wadhams and then take Rattle Run, I think, all the way down. The alternative routes were similarly preposterous.

Why did it do that? Because the Division Rd portion of 32 Mile is not marked as a Primary Street.

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I honestly don't understand why there's anything at all to lose by not making things primary streets. You've already conceded the map looks better with them. I've proven it works better with them. What's left? The language in the Wiki? That's certainly vague enough for either of our interpretations, so go with the one that works.
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Re: Primary Street Discussion

Postby robc007 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:55 pm

sketch wrote:People living off Townline Rd in that subdivision use Townline to get to the nearest arterial highway. In fact, I would say looking at Cheboygan that the primary street type on S / N Western Ave should be extended up to Mackinaw Ave.


Towline Rd is sometimes even a faster route than M-27.

I'll extend that primary street a bit. It looks like most of the roads in that area have never been edited.
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Re: Primary Street Discussion

Postby Riamus » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:09 pm

sketch, if I left off an "s" on routes at some point in the discussion, it was not on purpose. As I stated, there are multiple valid primary streets in Mackinaw City. I never suggested a single route in a city.

People living off Townline Rd in that subdivision use Townline to get to the nearest arterial highway.


And what you're saying would indicate that a LOT of roads should be primary and that really doesn't make sense. Just about any subdivision isn't going to be directly connected to a highway. This isn't an urban area where half the roads around you are highways of some form or another. That doesn't mean every road leading from a subdivision to a highway should be a primary street. That would end up being 90% of all roads in northern Michigan. That isn't a help to anyone.

And what if you want to go from Pellston to your friend's lake house on Mullett Lake just south of Mullett Burt Rd? Any route which only followed highways would take you completely out of the way.


Again, this is true everywhere. If I want to go to someone's house *anywhere* in northern Michigan, a highway is likely not going to get me the entire way. It may get me most of the way, but then unless they are right on the highway, I'll have to drive through a variety of roads to get to the final destination. I don't need hundreds of primary streets going to every possible destination in order to find my way.

Consider the blanket statements you're making and what they naturally evolve to mean. If you say that any subdivision not connected to a highway should have a primary street connecting it to a highway, then you'll have hundreds or thousands of primary streets all over the place. If you say that any destination not attached to a highway needs a primary street to show you how to get there, then you'll have hundreds or thousands of primary streets all over the place. Currently, we are talking about a small number that have been marked, but the statements you're making would affect a very large number of roads that have the exact same characteristics.

Why did it do that? Because the Division Rd portion of 32 Mile is not marked as a Primary Street.


Or because Gratiot is a primary street? If that wasn't a primary street, the routing engine could have just as easily chosen Division as it would have been the same type of street.


Let's see if I can explain this any differently.

First, I think that to raise a street to primary street or a minor highway to a major highway should have a good reason for doing so. What makes it more important? Can a valid reason be shown for why it is more important than other roads around it? If so, then it deserves the raised classification. If not, then it does not. If no one can show a good reason for a particular road to have a higher classification, then why should it? I'm not talking definitions here or DOT choices. I'm talking about actual reasons.

I can't just go through every street that was marked primary at this time unless someone wants me to do so. But I'll once again touch on Van Rd. Give me a good reason for Van Rd. Why is it more important than any of the cross streets or other streets in the area? Why is it more important than Ely Rd? Ely Rd is the same speed and has fewer hills. It connects all houses in the area to either US-31 or the county highway that is N Pleasantview Rd. I'm looking for any valid reasons specific to the road itself when compared to all other streets in the area. Because it's long? That's not a valid reason. Because it connects two highways? That isn't a valid reason. Many roads do that and as I stated, traffic will use Robinson or Levering roads instead.

Second, forget the name "primary street" and what definition is used for it. Consider what reason you may have to mark a street different from another one on a map without regard to what anyone else says about the street. Consider it from your own view. You'd mark roads differently so that main routes are visible on the map. These are the routes that will get you around the map before you need to start driving down all of the lesser roads to get to your final destination. As I explained and no one refuted, once all county highways are properly marked, every main city/town destination you'd be heading to from I-75 in northern Michigan will have a route that is visible at highway speeds without primary streets being necessary.

Is there value in creating a grid of primary streets across the state where every north/south and east/west road is marked as primary? That would get you a primary street to just about everywhere. I really don't think that's valuable, but it's what you're suggesting even if you're not directly saying that.

I think another issue that we're running into here relates to the way Waze puts too much emphasis on highways. Supposedly they are changing that. When they do, Waze should provide a much better route regardless of road type. I think there is so much concern over that, that what is actually good for the map is forgotten in place of workarounds for the routing server. That's what you apparently experienced with Gratiot Rd. The thing is that in northern Michigan, you will actually have fewer routing problems if you don't complicate routing with unnecessary primary streets. Necessary ones, yes. But not ones that really have no value.

Let's say that I wanted to get from Van to Larks Lake and Van Rd was not marked as a primary street. Do you think Waze would route me to Levering Rd because it's a minor highway then down N Pleasantview Rd (another minor highway) to Van Rd and out to Larks Lake? Or do you think it would route me down Van Rd even though it's just a street? Do you really believe that it needs to be a primary street to be routed that way instead of being routed down just the highways? On a very long trip, that would be true because of the poor way Waze chose to set up the routing engine. But these destinations would never be in the middle of a long trip. They'd be at the beginning or end. If this part of northern Michigan were in the middle of a long trip, then the person is either driving on US-31 or I-75 and not driving out in the middle of the state. When you're on short routes or routes ending or beginning in a location, Waze will use Streets just fine. It may still prefer highways, but if there is a faster route on a Street after whatever penalty is applied, it will use it. And I highly doubt enough penalty would be applied for Waze to route you away from Van Rd in this situation even if it's just a street. If it did and it was necessary to force routing by changing the road classification because of how Waze wrote their routing server, then that could be okay if it was felt that there was sufficient need... at least until they change how the routing is handled in regard to Streets. But for most of these, they really aren't needed as workarounds to routing problems.

Take a look at Brutus/Burt Lake. Let's say I want to route to the center of that primary street that was added there. Without it being a primary street, do you think Waze would have any trouble routing me there? It certainly doesn't provide a more direct and better route for anyone unless they happen to already be in the middle of those roads.

As far as your Mullet Lake example, without the primary streets, would Waze really route you so far out of the way? Or would it route you down the Streets? I can't test that because they are primary streets already. It certainly shouldn't because there is far too much distance and time involved and once again, Streets are valid routes whenever you aren't in the middle of a long trip and these destinations we're discussing wouldn't be necessary to reach in the middle of a long trip. They would be either the start or stop destinations.

I can verify that Waze does route you down Streets instead of using highways when the highways are slower. It did that for me today. My main route follows one state highway west, to a state highway south, to a state highway east. Today, halfway to the highway heading south, Waze decided to recalculate to save me 2 minutes. It took me off the first state highway, down two different Streets and then out to the final state highway just a little west of where the southern state highway meets it. It didn't have to be a primary street for that to happen. Which shows that even if Townline can be faster than M-27, it doesn't have to be a primary street for Waze to use it in those instances.

Anyhow, if good reasons specific to the roads showing that there is good reason for each specific road to be a primary street, then okay. But if not, then why? "Just because" or "Because others are doing it" just really aren't good reasons.

All I ask is that some valid reason for each street is given as to why it needs to be a primary street. I have not yet heard any reason why these streets are more important than the ones around them from a driver's perspective. I have given many reasons why some of these streets shouldn't be primary streets. I have not heard any response to those reasons or alternative reasons why they should be. Why not?

As I have stated before, I am not against primary streets either in cities and towns or across the countryside. But I think there should be a good reason to use them and not just because you feel like it or because DOT says so. We've already established that we aren't using DOT to determine what roads should be in Waze in other discussions going back quite a ways. I've seen numerous posts from champs about that. I support primary streets when they have a purpose. If they don't have a purpose, then I don't support them.
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Re: Primary Street Discussion

Postby robc007 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:31 pm

Riamus wrote:All I ask is that some valid reason for each street is given as to why it needs to be a primary street.


You can make demands like that in the Map Maker community. It's never going to happen here. These are trivial edits.

Riamus wrote:I have not yet heard any reason why these streets are more important than the ones around them from a driver's perspective. I have given many reasons why some of these streets shouldn't be primary streets. I have not heard any response to those reasons or alternative reasons why they should be. Why not?


Sketch made an excellent effort to explain this to you. He doesn't deserve to be ignored like that.
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