Sustrans no good for touring

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PH
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby PH » 30 Jun 2020, 11:44pm

jacobean wrote:About time the truth was told about designated cycleways.
Having to continually check routes with a smartphone or may takes the complete enjoyment out of cycle touring.
Sometimes you're better off on a secondary road(safety permitting of course).

The majority of the NCN is on quiet roads, no harder or easier to follow than any other route on similar sorts of roads. The route from Lichfield* to Wirksworth is a typical example, it's around 50 miles of which about 35 is on road. I'd have planned my own, not for reasons of quality, it'd just be ten miles shorter, though it would still use some of the NCN both on and off road.

* I can't think of anywhere else you'd pick up a NCN route coming from Birmingham Airport.

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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby PH » 1 Jul 2020, 12:07am

foxyrider wrote:I've done my best to follow some NCN's and unless you want to encounter all the hazzards others have mentioned, i certainly wouldn't recommend much of the network for touring.

I'd thoroughly recommend, the Pennine Cycleway, Lon Las Cymru, C2C, Haidrian's Way, Way of the Roses, Coast and Castles, Lon Teifi, Varsity Way, and the many I know by number rather than name. There's also a growing list I'd like to ride, having seen and heard what they have to offer. I don't recall ever having encountered anything I'd consider a hazard.
If anyone slavishly follows a route through an area they'd rather not ride through, then they probably lack the gumption to be allowed out on their own. Of course that's what some of the routes do, it isn't called Sustainable Transport for nothing, it'd be a bit of a failure if it didn't go where people live! Having said that, the routes through Glasgow and Newcastle are IMO an excellent way to cross those cities, at least for someone not familiar with the alternatives.

irc
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby irc » 1 Jul 2020, 2:58am

mjr wrote:
irc wrote:This image sums up Sustrans for me. 6 miles by road, 15 miles by Sustrans.

I know the sign and where it is. Both distances shown are wrong, in opposite senses. It's 13 by Sustrans, 11 if you take an obvious bypass but miss a fascinating village, whereas the very straight A road route is 8 miles, not 6. It has never been 6 in living memory.

But hey, don't let accuracy get in the way of a good jibe.


Well technically the inaccuracy is another Sustrans flaw. Getting the distance of their route wrong by over 10% isn't confidence inspiring.

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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby pwa » 1 Jul 2020, 6:44am

I have my fingers crossed for us being able to do our planned tour of Wales and the border in a few weeks, and I like to think that much of the route is just me, looking at maps and selecting country lanes that take my fancy. But also in the mix are big chunks of the Taff Trail and Lon Las Cymru. With relatively small exceptions I pasted in long sections of those NCN routes where they go more or less where I wanted to go anyway. It was handy to have them already worked out by Sustrans, though I did then check them for excess climbing.

LLC does have more climbing than using the not-too-bad main road alternatives, but mostly I have stuck with LLC because it promises roads with a bit of character, and my journey is less about speed and efficiency and more about being in nice places. I cut out one short section near Newbridge on Wye that apparently becomes a rough, muddy tack, but apart from that we stick with LLC while it goes where we are going.

The Taff Trail is something I have done in part before and last time I lost it several times. It has the nice easy former rail lines you often see, but it also has cobbled together bits, some on roads, with lots of twists and turns with the potential for missing signs. Progress could be slow and fraught on that. But before the Taff Trail existed I would not have chosen to go up the Taff at all as my way into mid Wales.

On a technical point, Sustrans did not actually make routes like the Taff Trail. Sustrans worked in partnership with Local Authorities and other charities to produce the network, with some of the money coming from Sustrans, but even more coming from the partners who actually designed and constructed the routes in consultation with Sustrans. Sustrans do not own or control the routes, and most of the routine maintenance is done by Local Authorities.

Oldjohnw
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Oldjohnw » 1 Jul 2020, 7:16am

I always understood that since Sustrans routes were developed with and significantly financed by LAs, they were required to include certain areas such as railway stations. This would inevitably take them through some town centres.

The cycle travel route planner often but not slavishly incorporates National Cycle routes and is a useful planner.
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby mjr » 1 Jul 2020, 8:09am

irc wrote:
mjr wrote:
irc wrote:This image sums up Sustrans for me. 6 miles by road, 15 miles by Sustrans.

I know the sign and where it is. Both distances shown are wrong, in opposite senses. It's 13 by Sustrans, 11 if you take an obvious bypass but miss a fascinating village, whereas the very straight A road route is 8 miles, not 6. It has never been 6 in living memory.

But hey, don't let accuracy get in the way of a good jibe.


Well technically the inaccuracy is another Sustrans flaw. Getting the distance of their route wrong by over 10% isn't confidence inspiring.

Unless something changed, the metal signs are produced by the Highways Authorities, who are also over 20% wrong on the other sign. They are shown in TSRGD. The stickers put up by volunteers are more likely correct, in my experience.
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby mjr » 1 Jul 2020, 8:23am

Oldjohnw wrote:I always understood that since Sustrans routes were developed with and significantly financed by LAs, they were required to include certain areas such as railway stations. This would inevitably take them through some town centres.

They were also funded by a lottery grant to sign 5000 miles and be within 1 mile of 55% of the population which sometimes led to visiting towns or passing by villages which make little sense otherwise IMO. Lynn to Holbeach is one example: National 1's bendy village-hunting via Wisbech is 50% longer than Local 9 and B1359 (the former A17), although Lincs CC's bad attitude to cycling makes me suspect they refused to speed-limit or widen the B road.

The cycle travel route planner often but not slavishly incorporates National Cycle routes and is a useful planner.

Agreed.
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Vorpal » 1 Jul 2020, 8:44am

PH wrote:Sounds like poor preparation and route planning rather than something unique to Sustrans. You could spend all day getting out of the Birmingham area if you weren't prepared. But 24 hours for 60 miles would take a certain degree on incompetence, makes you wonder why they didn't just abandon that after a couple of hours and let the smart phone direct them.
I've ridden thousands of miles of the NCN, it's far from perfect, but I've never found it any harder to follow than a route on quiet roads. Best advice you might have offered your visitor would have been to use the compass feature on the phone.

I'd say it depends on where they are coming from. I'm sure that I've told on here before of finding Dutch cyclists wandering around the Essex countryside, completely lost. They've come with maps and/or GPS, but been completely befuddled the lack of signposting, routes that seem to just disappear, and barriers that look like fences.
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby PaulaT » 1 Jul 2020, 9:14am

PH wrote:
jacobean wrote:About time the truth was told about designated cycleways.
Having to continually check routes with a smartphone or may takes the complete enjoyment out of cycle touring.
Sometimes you're better off on a secondary road(safety permitting of course).

The majority of the NCN is on quiet roads, no harder or easier to follow than any other route on similar sorts of roads. The route from Lichfield* to Wirksworth is a typical example, it's around 50 miles of which about 35 is on road. I'd have planned my own, not for reasons of quality, it'd just be ten miles shorter, though it would still use some of the NCN both on and off road.

* I can't think of anywhere else you'd pick up a NCN route coming from Birmingham Airport.


If I were going from Lichfield to Wirksworth I'd probably go Sittles/Walton-on-Trent/Barton-u-Needwood/Tutbury/Hatton/Sutton-on-the-Hill/Hollington then look for the best route to the east of Carsington reservoir (I'd have to study the OS map for that bit). I certainly wouldn't follow any stupid Sustrans route. I had the displeasure of meeting the Sunstrans man who did the Lichfield to Burton section - a horrible, arrogant little man. That turned my attitude to Sustrans from scepticism to dislike.

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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Oldjohnw » 1 Jul 2020, 9:20am

PaulaT wrote:
PH wrote:
jacobean wrote:About time the truth was told about designated cycleways.
Having to continually check routes with a smartphone or may takes the complete enjoyment out of cycle touring.
Sometimes you're better off on a secondary road(safety permitting of course).

The majority of the NCN is on quiet roads, no harder or easier to follow than any other route on similar sorts of roads. The route from Lichfield* to Wirksworth is a typical example, it's around 50 miles of which about 35 is on road. I'd have planned my own, not for reasons of quality, it'd just be ten miles shorter, though it would still use some of the NCN both on and off road.

* I can't think of anywhere else you'd pick up a NCN route coming from Birmingham Airport.


If I were going from Lichfield to Wirksworth I'd probably go Sittles/Walton-on-Trent/Barton-u-Needwood/Tutbury/Hatton/Sutton-on-the-Hill/Hollington then look for the best route to the east of Carsington reservoir (I'd have to study the OS map for that bit). I certainly wouldn't follow any stupid Sustrans route. I had the displeasure of meeting the Sunstrans man who did the Lichfield to Burton section - a horrible, arrogant little man. That turned my attitude to Sustrans from scepticism to dislike.


Not everyone knows that level of detail and have to follow guidance.
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby PH » 1 Jul 2020, 9:58am

PaulaT wrote:If I were going from Lichfield to Wirksworth I'd probably go Sittles/Walton-on-Trent/Barton-u-Needwood/Tutbury/Hatton/Sutton-on-the-Hill/Hollington then look for the best route to the east of Carsington reservoir (I'd have to study the OS map for that bit). I certainly wouldn't follow any stupid Sustrans route.

As they say, you can't please everyone. I'd use parts of the NCN, as much by coincidence as anything else. If you put the end points into any of the popular route planners, I'd be surprised if any of them stuck to the NCN and equally surprised if they didn't include considerable sections of it.

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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby PH » 1 Jul 2020, 10:03am

Vorpal wrote:I'd say it depends on where they are coming from. I'm sure that I've told on here before of finding Dutch cyclists wandering around the Essex countryside, completely lost.

As someone who has on more than one occasion been lost in the Netherlands, I'd suggest that is, at least in part, a matter of unfamiliarity.
It could be better, some parts are unridable, some routes are inconsistent, some route choices are overly cautious, some incredibly indirect. I'm not uncritical, but there's a difference between that and the idea that they are of no use and best avoided.

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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Oldjohnw » 1 Jul 2020, 10:10am

Various guides including Sustrans and Cycletravel give A-B directions around here which I wouldn't personally follow but that is because I have local knowledge. If I am in, say, Warwickshire I would happily uses guides such as mentioned and be gratet even though a local might well say what a weird route.
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby thirdcrank » 1 Jul 2020, 10:11am

IMO the big weakness of the Sustrans concept is that it provides the authorities with excuses to ignore the needs of cyclists on the general road network.

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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby ossie » 1 Jul 2020, 11:35am

I'd say a lot of NCN routes are cobbled together but it does a job bearing in mind the lack of cycling infrastructure we have to put up with. Don't stick to it religiously but use it in conjunction with something like cycle travel that irons out many (but not all ) of its inconsistencies.

For example I am still quite amazed that I can get from Dorset to Harwich (250 miles ) on a fully loaded bike on quiet roads, cycle paths, canal paths and off road following mainly sustrans routes. (I've done this route four times now ). My main issue isn't the routes themselves its finding camping accommodation along the way.

Some of the routes are absolute gems, some not so however more often than not they will actually deliver you to your destination in some way, shape or form. If you want to get there faster or avoid town centres then plan another route.

That said getting back onto it coming from the Netherlands / Germany is indeed a sobering prospect and just shows how far behind we are :(