Sustrans no good for touring

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

Postby PaulaT » 3 Jul 2020, 3:33pm

Richard Fairhurst wrote:The roads up the east of the river are not remotely National Cycle Network standard. Traffic on the Walton-Stapenhill road is too heavy and too fast. That's not to say that it's a bad cycling road - I'm sure it is for confident cyclists like you. But the NCN design standards are fussier about traffic levels and speeds, because it's intended to appeal to less confident riders. There is no single objective "best".


You missed out the short section of the A513 ;)

That section will change as the development on the old Drakelow power station site continues. There are opportunities there to provide space for cyclists. I expect the council want to do something as the development is rather cut off from the rest of the town by the railway.

I don't believe anyone was born a "confident" cyclist. It's about experience and you can't gain experience in anything by not doing it. So the very best that the NCN can ever achieve is to effectively trap inexperienced cyclists onto a linear cycling ghetto. We'll leave aside the issue of how the inexperienced cyclists get to NCN path in the first place unless they're part of the tiny percentage of the population who have one running virtually past their door.

As for their standards, have you ever been in Barton-under-Needwood when the children are being dropped off or picked up from school? It's chaos, utter chaos. Cars going every which way driven by hassled and highly distracted parents. That's a massively more dangerous situation to cycle in than a moderately trafficked road. Yes it passes their standards? A few years ago I came across a cyclist who was clearly struggling. We stopped for a chat and he told me that he'd just got back to cycling after being very seriously injured some months before when he was basically flattened by a Range Rover (driver illegally on his mobile phone). And where did this collision occur? Not on a busy road but on NCN54 Abnall's Lane just west of Lichfield. Actually I remember back in the mid 90s when the county council got interested in developing cycle routes so they came and talked to us (CTC). There were two of them both of whom would probably fall under the category of inexperienced cyclists. The told us that they'd cycled up Abnall's Lane and thought it was so dangerous that they'd got off and walked! We thought that was a serious over-reaction even given that it's a well-known rat run. It's so odd then to see that a well-know rat run which the county highways department regarded (rightly or wrongly) as too dangerous to cycle on meets NCN standards.

Richard Fairhurst wrote:(That isn't to say that NCN 54 between Alrewas and Burton is a satisfactory route - it isn't, and ideally it would be rerouted along a resurfaced canal towpath IMO.)


I thought so too. Perhaps the attitude of British Waterways had something to do with that. If it were being built now I think the CRT would be very supportive assuming the money could be found for the resurfacing work. When I used to ride with the club we'd sometimes take the towpath from Alrewas over the weirs then put our bikes over the style and push them up to by the church. We then used to ride past the big house and up onto the B road. I'm not sure we were really allowed to do that but no-one ever shouted at us so I don't think minded really.

Vorpal
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Vorpal » 3 Jul 2020, 4:10pm

PH wrote:
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.

Sustrans routes can be useful. I used to use some Sustrans routes in Essex. There were some around Chelmsford & Coclchester that were decent, and some rural routes that were lovely.

That said, I could use them effectively because I knew them.

Sustrans routes, in general are not very useful for long distance travellers, and people unfamiliar with the area/route. Some are great. Some are good for a while, then peter out. Some are blocked by anti-motorcycle barriers, and some are impossible to follow. I say impossible because I have a pretty good sense of direction, and I am good at using maps. But there was one route that I tried 3 times, with a map to find, and could not. I finally asked the local ranger to help me, and he showed me where it was. If I had not been told, I would never have know it was a cycle route, let alone a *national* cycle route. The only thing to indicate that it was a route was a little sticker on a fence post, about 15 metres from the road. It looked like a footpath.

I think the route has changed, since then, but I wouldn't ever have recommended that route to someone who wasn't accompanied by someone who knew it. And *that* is the problem with Sustrans. Not that the routes aren't useful. But that you can never tell until you get there.

In the Netherlands, if you stop and ask directions, someone almost always knows the way. Or, worst comes to worst, you can just take a cycleway and ride until you get to a signposted junction. In the UK, people may not even know that there is a cycle path, let alone where it goes, and just riding, may mean it ends at a busy road. Or a motorway. Or a you will come to a barrier that isn't easy to get around with a loaded touring bike.
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Cunobelin
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Cunobelin » 3 Jul 2020, 5:18pm

swagman wrote:The mistake sustrans have made is to send the routes straight through cities and towns instead of creating a circular ring road type route that would join up with connecting routes,. So you could avoid the towns if wanted.



This is a big misconception about Sustrans

The reason they go through towns it that the Network is designed for commuting, leisure, shopping and not dedicated to touring.

Also, one of the positives you can use to promote routes in towns is that cyclists will spend money in the town, justifying the cost of that improvement or path.

Oldjohnw
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Oldjohnw » 3 Jul 2020, 5:20pm

Cunobelin wrote:
swagman wrote:The mistake sustrans have made is to send the routes straight through cities and towns instead of creating a circular ring road type route that would join up with connecting routes,. So you could avoid the towns if wanted.



This is a big misconception about Sustrans

The reason they go through towns it that the Network is designed for commuting, leisure, shopping and not dedicated to touring.

Also, one of the positives you can use to promote routes in towns is that cyclists will spend money in the town, justifying the cost of that improvement or path.


And they need to be near stations
John

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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby ChrisF » 3 Jul 2020, 5:39pm

Cunobelin wrote:
swagman wrote:The mistake sustrans have made is to send the routes straight through cities and towns instead of creating a circular ring road type route that would join up with connecting routes,. So you could avoid the towns if wanted.


This is a big misconception about Sustrans

The reason they go through towns it that the Network is designed for commuting, leisure, shopping and not dedicated to touring.

Also, one of the positives you can use to promote routes in towns is that cyclists will spend money in the town, justifying the cost of that improvement or path.

(my bold)
Yes, it's designed for these uses, and probably funded more for these uses, so that's why it doesn't really work for touring. Trying to do both with one scheme just doesn't work. For a given town, a scheme funded for these (very good) reasons needs to have a network of several short routes within the town, not just one route going arbitarily from one side to the other because it's trying to join up with a touring route that has little or nothing to do with the town's commuting needs.
Chris F, Cornwall

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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Enigmadick » 3 Jul 2020, 8:00pm

To secure the funding it needs to provides routes for all types of cyclists it is inevitable that some parts of the NCN don't suit cycle tourists. But I'm glad to have it.
ENIGMA DICK aka Richard Barrett

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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby cycle tramp » 3 Jul 2020, 9:51pm

..I guess it depends on what you wish your touring experience to be...

But currently despite all the criticism no one, not even Cycling UK has attempted to do anything similar and that's despite their membership. If Sustrans routes are so poor, so badly designed and implemented... then surely Cycling UK could create an online map of the best alternative roads between and through each settlement using the support if their members?
...but so far nothing, not even a suggestion of such a thing..

Where I live Sustrans have provided some good alternatives to the local road networks, and due to their location assist both local people as well as those undertaking lejog

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mjr
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby mjr » 3 Jul 2020, 11:39pm

cycle tramp wrote:But currently despite all the criticism no one, not even Cycling UK has attempted to do anything similar

The National Byway has. viewtopic.php?f=16&t=32295

At Borough level, some cycling campaigns have stickered routes where the nationals have failed.

But I think a Cycling UK routes map could have value. As discussed on another topic, Ancient Roads can sometimes make good cycle routes. viewtopic.php?f=16&t=135891
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Cyril Haearn
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Cyril Haearn » 4 Jul 2020, 1:50am

One may device ones own routes using OS maps
Simples
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mjr
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby mjr » 4 Jul 2020, 10:55am

Cyril Haearn wrote:One may device ones own routes using OS maps
Simples

like the saying goes: for every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong. (attributed to HL Mencken)

OS maps give no idea of popularity with motorists or cyclists or of the road design. Cycle.travel and cyclosm are better, showing more info.
Last edited by mjr on 4 Jul 2020, 10:59am, edited 1 time in total.
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Cyril Haearn
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Cyril Haearn » 4 Jul 2020, 10:58am

mjr wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:One may device ones own routes using OS maps
Simples

like the saying goes: for every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong. (attributed to HL Mencken)

OS maps give no idea of popularity with motorists or cyclists or of the road design. Cycle.travel and cyclosm are better.

More answers are better than one (© Cyril), used to get on fine with 1" maps and lots of experience in rural Herefordshire, small yellow roads were very unpopular :wink:
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roubaixtuesday
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby roubaixtuesday » 4 Jul 2020, 11:09am

Cyril Haearn wrote:
mjr wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:One may device ones own routes using OS maps
Simples

like the saying goes: for every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong. (attributed to HL Mencken)

OS maps give no idea of popularity with motorists or cyclists or of the road design. Cycle.travel and cyclosm are better.

More answers are better than one (© Cyril), used to get on fine with 1" maps and lots of experience in rural Herefordshire, small yellow roads were very unpopular :wink:
Not upgraded to satnav yet


I'm with Cyril; there is no better route planning tool than the OS map, at least for a day ride.

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mjr
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby mjr » 4 Jul 2020, 11:19am

roubaixtuesday wrote:I'm with Cyril; there is no better route planning tool than the OS map, at least for a day ride.

If that's the best tool for you, so be it, but for most, they suck. The main thing in their favour is that byway/bridleway/footpath legal designations are shown more clearly than on most, but in general, they were kept locked up with copyright until long after they were surpassed for non-motoring uses.
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Oldjohnw
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby Oldjohnw » 4 Jul 2020, 11:47am

For me the perfect combination is cycle travel then for planning the original route then OS for execution. Facilitates deviation as required.
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Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Postby toontra » 4 Jul 2020, 12:13pm

My first long UK ride was based on Sustrans routes - mainly NCN1. I got lost so many times I vowed (stuck in a muddy field approaching South Queensferry at 6am in the freezing rain) that I'd never use them again.

I'm sure they have their uses for local rides to avoid the worst traffic but as a basis for long rides/tours I'd check them very carefully if time/milage is an issue.

A GPS unit with route mapping revolutionised cycling for me - no more chasing paper maps blown away in a gale or stopping every 5 minutes to check turns. I'd go as far as to say that I wouldn't have done half the cycling I've done over the intervening years were it not for GPS.