Sustrans no good for touring

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
djb
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby djb » 23 Jul 2020, 7:23pm

As a Canadian who has never ridden in the UK, I figure any info is a plus, but at the same time I realize that some suggested bike routes can be meandering things just to avoid a 200 meter section of main road. I do, however, have enough experience and trust in my own instincts to make a judgement call on things.
Sometimes though, it's nice to know that between X and Y town on highway 35, there is a lumber mill or a busy cement factory with tons of impatient truck traffic, or that it's very narrow with lots of local traffic, or whatever.

I'm also experienced enough to know that sometimes people have very very different views of what is dangerous. I've figured out routes on my own in many countries, in and out of major cities, and generally can take off myself and just get it done. Sometimes though it would have been nice to avoid really crappy sections that even I found crappy...

wearwell
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby wearwell » 24 Jul 2020, 9:12pm

djb wrote:........ Sometimes though it would have been nice to avoid really crappy sections that even I found crappy...
You can ride on any road in UK (except motorways) but if it feels crappy the best thing is to put on a high viz top. Can make a huge difference in my experience.
Also to hold your road space - don't get caught between lanes or too near the kerb. Or if it's really bad like a fast busy multi lane island just stay cool, get off and push for instance

djb
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby djb » 24 Jul 2020, 10:03pm

wearwell wrote:
djb wrote:........ Sometimes though it would have been nice to avoid really crappy sections that even I found crappy...
You can ride on any road in UK (except motorways) but if it feels crappy the best thing is to put on a high viz top. Can make a huge difference in my experience.
Also to hold your road space - don't get caught between lanes or too near the kerb. Or if it's really bad like a fast busy multi lane island just stay cool, get off and push for instance


all good advice, although judgement for each situation is important, no black and white answers.
I commute in a major North American city, have most of my life, and as I mentioned, I've bicycle toured in many countries and sketchy situations, so have a lot of experience.
Still nice to know (if possible) in advance to avoid some areas, or I guess to put it another way, to know of nicer, more enjoyable routes sometimes--hence my interest in this topic.

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mjr
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby mjr » 24 Jul 2020, 10:44pm

wearwell wrote:
djb wrote:........ Sometimes though it would have been nice to avoid really crappy sections that even I found crappy...
You can ride on any road in UK (except motorways) but if it feels crappy the best thing is to put on a high viz top. Can make a huge difference in my experience.

Yeah - once you don the urban camo, they SMIDSY and close pass even more! At least, that's how I felt when I tried it...
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Vorpal
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Vorpal » 25 Jul 2020, 8:23am

wearwell wrote:
djb wrote:........ Sometimes though it would have been nice to avoid really crappy sections that even I found crappy...
You can ride on any road in UK (except motorways) but if it feels crappy the best thing is to put on a high viz top. Can make a huge difference in my experience.
Also to hold your road space - don't get caught between lanes or too near the kerb. Or if it's really bad like a fast busy multi lane island just stay cool, get off and push for instance

I can ride on the A12 in Essex, but I wouldn't like it, and I don't think that donning a high viz top would make an iota of difference. Knowing the best alternative route, and where there are parallel cycle paths, however, would vastly improve my journey.
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Vorpal » 25 Jul 2020, 8:28am

mjr wrote:
mikeymo wrote:Can you put photos in OSM edit comments? That might be a way for somebody to look at it.

I'm not sure, but you could probably upload them to a personal page on their wiki and refer to it from the changeset discussion.

I think you can add photos to Cycle Streets? I'm pretty sure I've done that before, though it was some years ago.
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mjr
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby mjr » 25 Jul 2020, 10:55am

Vorpal wrote:
mjr wrote:
mikeymo wrote:Can you put photos in OSM edit comments? That might be a way for somebody to look at it.

I'm not sure, but you could probably upload them to a personal page on their wiki and refer to it from the changeset discussion.

I think you can add photos to Cycle Streets? I'm pretty sure I've done that before, though it was some years ago.

Yes, you can. I'm not sure whether you can link from OSM edit comments to them, though.
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby mikeymo » 28 Jul 2020, 10:47pm

mjr wrote:
Vorpal wrote:
mjr wrote:I'm not sure, but you could probably upload them to a personal page on their wiki and refer to it from the changeset discussion.

I think you can add photos to Cycle Streets? I'm pretty sure I've done that before, though it was some years ago.

Yes, you can. I'm not sure whether you can link from OSM edit comments to them, though.


Thanks, I might try next time I'm out that way.


Ianwhitwell
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Ianwhitwell » 22 Sep 2020, 10:49pm

New to cycling again after a long break and having moved to a new area of the country: I have found two items extremely useful in making route planning, if not a flawless activity, then at least a generally successful one. These are the OS Mapping App and the Komoot App. Komoot makes use of the NCN when it is useful to do so and allowed you to choose between road, touring and MTB routes when planning and it gives an indication of the gradients proposed. You can even ask it to avoid steep sections. It's not 100%, but nothing is. I can then export routes to OS if I wish to look in more detail at the terrain I'll be cycling through. In particular, I love the feature that suggests routes around a particular place based on the previous activity of thousands of users. So far the suggested routes I've tried have been excellent. Everyone to their own, but I'll never go back to carrying loads of OS maps on tours as I did in the 80's.

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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby leftpoole » 24 Sep 2020, 10:56am

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 am actually a Sustrans Ranger.
In my honest opinion the whole 'network' is bonkers. No proper really useable routes. Just paths to here from there. It is easier and faster to ride normal roads with traffic.
Most Sustran routes end up with steep poor surface roads and are certainly not what was intended when the routing began all those years ago.
My opinion and possibly mine alone, but it has to be said from an 'insider'.

Boogzy
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Boogzy » 24 Sep 2020, 12:00pm

I like the network, but its true its a bit all over the place and in need of an update

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foxyrider
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby foxyrider » 24 Sep 2020, 2:57pm

leftpoole wrote:
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 am actually a Sustrans Ranger.
In my honest opinion the whole 'network' is bonkers. No proper really useable routes. Just paths to here from there. It is easier and faster to ride normal roads with traffic.
Most Sustran routes end up with steep poor surface roads and are certainly not what was intended when the routing began all those years ago.
My opinion and possibly mine alone, but it has to be said from an 'insider'.


Until i found myself in north east Brizzle last year, i'd had little experience of trying to follow NCN's,well ride for 40 years in one place and you know just about every road for 30/40 miles about home! I have tried to follow some of the local stuff and i've been frustrated by pointless loops, poor surfaces and as you say, stupidly steep climbs that test even very fit riders let alone more casual riders. Yes, i know there are places where thats gonna be unavoidable but in many cases there could be alternatives with a bit of joined up thinking.

One example is the NCN4 leaving Chepstow for Newport westbound which takes you further uphill than you need to go with 2 A road crossings and a stretch of on A road, then down a narrow and steep hill before going around more singletrack lanes to reach a point 50m from the A48. A simpler and safer route with only 1 A road crossing could take you to the same point on much better/safer roads through Mathern, the eastbound, whilst still needing to make the climb up to the A466, is less strenuous and friendlier to cyclists and other road users. I could go on, pointless diversions, poor road choice, etc, etc, as a result i don't try to follow the NCN's, sometimes i'll use the same roads from a to b but i've pretty much given up following the routes.

I understand there is some revision of the network going on at present but i doubt it'll tackle the main issues. I had high hopes when the whole thing kicked off, signed, safe arterial cycle routes across the country - want to go London to York, follow route x, York to Manchester, route y to Leeds then z across to Manchester, yep, just like the national network of A roads. Smaller towns and cities would be linked in by B routes with further links to places of interest/scenic diversions. In other words a network of routes with purpose rather than spaghetti thrown at the map.
Convention? what's that then?
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mjr
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby mjr » 24 Sep 2020, 3:22pm

Replying to a bit of viewtopic.php?p=1532705#p1532705 here instead because it's more on topic:
Tangled Metal wrote:Don't get me started about sustrans cycle routes around here. 15 miles zig wagging to do a 7 mile journey on the main local cycle commute route. Good planning sustrans. Was the aim to make the public not use them????

I think the problem was that once Sustrans had won their £43.5m lottery grant to create a network of 5'000 or 10'000 miles that is within 2 miles of 75% of the population within 10 years, then each refusenik council pretty much had Sustrans over a barrel in one way: either pay the council to do more than the minimum, compromise the standards, or increase the risk of failing to deliver in time and have to hand some of the lottery grant back. I think a mix of all three happened (in that some routes were left very incomplete - not enough that they had to hand any grant back).

It is worth remembering that the National Cycle Network was judged to be the most successful lottery-funded project up to 2004, beating things including the Tate Modern and the Eden Project.

I think it's easy for experienced cyclists to think they could pick routes which might be better for them (and often they can) or maybe better for everyone (not as many could do this as think they can!), but there are often reasons why the NCN goes a particular way, whether or not we agree with them. The greatest failing of Sustrans IMO is failing to communicate those reasons to cyclists. I'm just guessing that the huge kinks in NCN1 near me are to pass closer to more villages and occasionally to use quieter roads, or bridges to cross major roads.

But the second-greatest failing is probably failing to respond when there seems no good reason for a routing blooper...
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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djb
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby djb » 25 Sep 2020, 1:37pm

again, as a foreigner, it's interesting to read all of your opinions, especially to hear the direct experiences.
I've started coming onto this forum to try to get a better idea of what its like to tour in the UK, as I have never ridden a bike there, so it helps me to read your comments and to keep them in mind for when I hopefully can get over there.