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Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 12:42pm
by wearwell
We have the occasional "warm shower" visitor https://www.warmshowers.org/ . The last one earlier this year came from Birmingham Airport following the Sustrans route, reckoned at 5 hours or so. It took him 24 or more and we found him shivering on our doorstep at the crack of dawn.
Could take five hours but not if you have to stop hundreds of times to check the route on your smart phone, sometimes only a few feet between changes of direction and easily missed. Not easy on a bright sunny day, even worse on a dark wet and windy night, poor sod!
So we briefed him on maps and routes and told him to avoid Sustrans entirely, unless he could fit if in on a sensibly researched paper map route.
Just thought I'd mention it, as I imagine others could make the same big mistake; Sustrans seems such an obviously good idea but it could be a disaster!

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 1:00pm
by PH
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.

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 1:17pm
by swagman
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.

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 2:15pm
by whoof
Is it me but the linked route doesn't seem to be a Sustrans route but a Google maps one? Looking at Cycletravel there doesn't seem to be a Sustrans route from Bristol Airport. There's the NCN 5 10 km to the West and 52 a bit further to the East in Coventry. Surely just a case of how you cross the M6 and there aren't that many options and then about 10 km after that you are in the country side.

Did they get lost in Egginton?

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 2:16pm
by djb
As a Canadian hoping to one day ride in the UK, I've read conflicting reports over the years of sustrans routes. I realize that this specific example is a bit over the top, but I figure that I will need to carefully plan routes in advance and best use reliable routes confirmed by other cyclists.
I've got a fair amount of bike touring experience, but as a rider used to riding driving on the right, being aware of traffic volume and narrow roads in the UK, plus having read of sustrans routes taking people down cowpaths etc, I certainly know I'll check and double checkroutes when one day I get over to the UK.
This poor person unfortunately does sound like they are particularly directionally challenged, and didn't prepare well.

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 2:25pm
by thirdcrank
djb

I hope you will be able to come here and I'm sure good advice is available.

My suggestion would be to seek detailed advice from forum members local to your proposed route. There's a wealth of local knowledge on here.

Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 2:44pm
by Syd
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.

Couldn’t agree more. The many of the routes around Edinburgh are extremely poor often including many cobbled sections and extremely sharp rises.

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 2:45pm
by wearwell
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'm not sure exactly what he was looking at on his smart phone but he said it was Sustrans. Maybe that was his first mistake!
Is it possible to download a Sustrans route as above, on a smart phone? I wouldn't know - haven't got one

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 2:48pm
by Oldjohnw
Sustrans routes on OS maps don't mention the word Sustrans: just the number.

I've used several without mishap. It helps to have a proper map whether paper or electronic so you can divert if needed.

I am not questioning the individual's route finding skills but to loses about 20 hours!

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 2:50pm
by wearwell
Syd 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.

Couldn’t agree more. The many of the routes around Edinburgh are extremely poor often including many cobbled sections.
Hmm not sure about that. If you stick as near as you can to the straightest line through many towns you can find yourself on the old road route from before the traffic system was designed and traffic taken elsewhere. Maybe a few pedestrianised bits or one way systems to trail around, but can be quickest.
Yes deffo a proper map - our friend hadn't the faintest idea where he was most of the time and was just scrolling up and down his smart phone screen.

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 2:57pm
by wearwell
whoof wrote:Is it me but the linked route doesn't seem to be a Sustrans route but a Google maps one? Looking at Cycletravel there doesn't seem to be a Sustrans route from Bristol Airport. There's the NCN 5 10 km to the West and 52 a bit further to the East in Coventry. Surely just a case of how you cross the M6 and there aren't that many options and then about 10 km after that you are in the country side.

Did they get lost in Egginton?
I believe he did! Did you meet him? He phoned from somewhere south of Derby, late evening, but we couldn't go and pick him up and advised him to hop into a field and camp. Somebody gave him a fluorescent top which could have saved his life as he was otherwise well camouflaged for a dark evening. This was last year some time can't remember exactly. A Canadian youth. He was totally knackerd and slept all day and stayed another night. Sent him off with some proper maps. Also advised him if in doubt to simply take the main road shortest route, as long as not a motorway.

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 3:06pm
by Bmblbzzz
wearwell wrote:
Syd 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.

Couldn’t agree more. The many of the routes around Edinburgh are extremely poor often including many cobbled sections.
Hmm not sure about that. If you stick as near as you can to the straightest line through many towns you can find yourself on the old road route from before the traffic system was designed and traffic taken elsewhere. Maybe a few pedestrianised bits or one way systems to trail around, but can be quickest.
Yes deffo a proper map - our friend hadn't the faintest idea where he was most of the time and was just scrolling up and down his smart phone screen.

This is the first time I've heard of Sustrans routes going straight through a town! They tend to wiggle atrociously, taking every possible deviation from the "straight" route in order to use marginally quieter roads. Which of course does make them harder to follow. A "ring road" type route might be a good idea.

The positioning, quantity and design of the signs they use are another issue, more so in rural areas, but they do face legal problems with this as they're not allowed (except on off-road routes) to erect anything to put the signs on; they have to put them on pre-existing poles for other signs, street lights and so on.

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 3:23pm
by Syd
wearwell wrote:
Syd 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.

Couldn’t agree more. The many of the routes around Edinburgh are extremely poor often including many cobbled sections.
Hmm not sure about that. If you stick as near as you can to the straightest line through many towns you can find yourself on the old road route from before the traffic system was designed and traffic taken elsewhere. Maybe a few pedestrianised bits or one way systems to trail around, but can be quickest.
Yes deffo a proper map - our friend hadn't the faintest idea where he was most of the time and was just scrolling up and down his smart phone screen.

The difficulty with Edinburgh is the old town, to the South isn’t well joined to the new town (a relative term as dates back to 1757) in the North. They are then joined using low traffic streets which tend to be the cobbled ones.

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 3:27pm
by Syd
Bmblbzzz wrote:
wearwell wrote:
Syd wrote:Couldn’t agree more. The many of the routes around Edinburgh are extremely poor often including many cobbled sections.
Hmm not sure about that. If you stick as near as you can to the straightest line through many towns you can find yourself on the old road route from before the traffic system was designed and traffic taken elsewhere. Maybe a few pedestrianised bits or one way systems to trail around, but can be quickest.
Yes deffo a proper map - our friend hadn't the faintest idea where he was most of the time and was just scrolling up and down his smart phone screen.

This is the first time I've heard of Sustrans routes going straight through a town! They tend to wiggle atrociously, taking every possible deviation from the "straight" route in order to use marginally quieter roads. Which of course does make them harder to follow. A "ring road" type route might be a good idea.

The positioning, quantity and design of the signs they use are another issue, more so in rural areas, but they do face legal problems with this as they're not allowed (except on off-road routes) to erect anything to put the signs on; they have to put them on pre-existing poles for other signs, street lights and so on.

NCR1 and NCR75 are two which cut through Edinburgh.

Re: Sustrans no good for touring

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 3:33pm
by jacobean
wearwell wrote:Could take five hours but not if you have to stop hundreds of times to check the route on your smart phone, sometimes only a few feet between changes of direction and easily missed. Not easy on a bright sunny day, even worse on a dark wet and windy night, poor sod!
So we briefed him on maps and routes and told him to avoid Sustrans entirely, unless he could fit if in on a sensibly researched paper map route.
Just thought I'd mention it, as I imagine others could make the same big mistake; Sustrans seems such an obviously good idea but it could be a disaster!


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).