Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

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nnc283
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Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby nnc283 » 15 Feb 2013, 9:11pm

It's getting to the stage when no doubt folks are planning their E2E rides this summer, and as we run an independent hostel just off the A9 in the Highlands we get a fair few staying with us. Most get here via Sustrans Route 7 which takes cyclists off the main A9 along sections of the old road and newly constructed cycle paths. I've attempted to cycle along this stretch recently, I'm basically referring to the section between the pass of Drumochter and Newtonmore, it's about 16 miles, but I've no reason to doubt these comments apply to the whole route. It is simply appalling at the moment. Long sections are strewn with stones, rocks, boulders, windfall, vehicle debris, etc. other parts of it are overgrown with vegetation, there are also stretches where motorised vehicles have cut deep ruts into the soft surfaces and the sections of old road have just broken up completely. Frankly I would take my chances on the A9 at the moment but I know many cyclists will have been attracted by the idea of a long stretch of traffic free cycleway.

I have made representations to Sustrans who have passed the buck to the Highways authorities. That was months ago. I have also written to the Highland Council but apart form an acknowledgement nothing seems to have happened. I will keep trying, it is important to us that, particularly E2E riders can use this route, but maybe a bit of support would help. Sustrans admit they have had more complaints in 2012 than ever before about Route 7 and it baffles me why they don't seem to take it more seriously when the state of the route reflects on them even if it isn't strictly their responsibility.

I mention this primarily for information, but if anyone feels like writing to Sustrans and/or the Highways authorities I'm sure it wouldn't go amiss. I deliberately haven't mentioned the name of our establishment in case anyone thinks I'm touting for business

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Cunobelin
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby Cunobelin » 16 Feb 2013, 7:13am

The reason Sustrans cannot act is that they are unable to

They design and negotiate routes but do not maintain

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Mick F
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby Mick F » 16 Feb 2013, 8:36am

Newtonmore?

Come down off Drumochter and head for Dalwhinnie and Newtonmore on Real Roads. The Cycle track is not much off the top, and you turn onto the A889 and turn right as you cross the railway bridge just out of Dalwhinnie. Head out on General Wade's road to Crubenmore and beyond to join the B9150 to Newtonmore.

Which bit are you referring to?
Mick F. Cornwall

byegad
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby byegad » 16 Feb 2013, 8:43am

Cunobelin wrote:The reason Sustrans cannot act is that they are unable to

They design and negotiate routes but do not maintain


Which is why so many of their off road 'routes' are total pants.
"I thought of that while riding my bike." -Albert Einstein, on the Theory of Relativity

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PH
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby PH » 16 Feb 2013, 10:09am

Mick F wrote:Newtonmore?

Come down off Drumochter and head for Dalwhinnie and Newtonmore on Real Roads. The Cycle track is not much off the top, and you turn onto the A889 and turn right as you cross the railway bridge just out of Dalwhinnie. Head out on General Wade's road to Crubenmore and beyond to join the B9150 to Newtonmore.

Which bit are you referring to?


On the section described the choices are the A9 or the cycle path. Last time I was up there it was bad enough (2008) it had deteriorated a lot since the time before in 2004. We started out on the path and rejoined the A9 after a couple of miles. My companion wasn't at all happy on the road and we went back to the path. It's disappointing to hear it's deteriorated even more.
It's all very well people who are happy riding A roads to do so, but we have to realise it's not something everyone is comfortable with. Where there's no alternative a different route can be planned, where there is an alternative it should be usable.

nnc283
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby nnc283 » 16 Feb 2013, 8:48pm

The declassified bits of the old A9 are ok and as they don't grit this road in the winter it's actually stood up better than a lot of A roads, and of course there is hardly any traffic. But they are interspersed with these ancient bits of truncated road and purpose built paths which are the problem. It doesn't help that heavy service vehicles and agricultural machines still use parts of the truncated road for access.

A lone cyclist stayed at our place last year and he'd collected four punctures in the 16 miles from Drumochter. He only had two spare tubes and ended up way behind schedule, turning up in the dark with no lights. Another guy heading south only got as far as Dalwhinnie where he found his front tyre damaged beyond repair and no, it wasn't a super light racing tyre.

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Mick F
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby Mick F » 17 Feb 2013, 10:56am

It must've deteriorated one heck of an amount since I last rode through in May 2010. I had no problem whatsoever then, and never had a problem in 1994, 2006(both ways) and 2008.

What's happened since May 2010?
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby The Mechanic » 17 Feb 2013, 11:08am

A small matter of one of the worst winters in the UK for a number of years - 2010/11. We had snow continuously for nearly 3 months.
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meic
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby meic » 17 Feb 2013, 11:20am

nnc283 wrote:It's getting to the stage when no doubt folks are planning their E2E rides this summer, and as we run an independent hostel just off the A9 in the Highlands we get a fair few staying with us. Most get here via Sustrans Route 7 which takes cyclists off the main A9 along sections of the old road and newly constructed cycle paths. I've attempted to cycle along this stretch recently, I'm basically referring to the section between the pass of Drumochter and Newtonmore, it's about 16 miles, but I've no reason to doubt these comments apply to the whole route. It is simply appalling at the moment. Long sections are strewn with stones, rocks, boulders, windfall, vehicle debris, etc. other parts of it are overgrown with vegetation, there are also stretches where motorised vehicles have cut deep ruts into the soft surfaces and the sections of old road have just broken up completely. Frankly I would take my chances on the A9 at the moment but I know many cyclists will have been attracted by the idea of a long stretch of traffic free cycleway.

I have made representations to Sustrans who have passed the buck to the Highways authorities. That was months ago. I have also written to the Highland Council but apart form an acknowledgement nothing seems to have happened. I will keep trying, it is important to us that, particularly E2E riders can use this route, but maybe a bit of support would help. Sustrans admit they have had more complaints in 2012 than ever before about Route 7 and it baffles me why they don't seem to take it more seriously when the state of the route reflects on them even if it isn't strictly their responsibility.

I mention this primarily for information, but if anyone feels like writing to Sustrans and/or the Highways authorities I'm sure it wouldn't go amiss. I deliberately haven't mentioned the name of our establishment in case anyone thinks I'm touting for business


Yes keep on writing. There are comments here about "passing the buck" and "not strictly liable". Which is rather typical and I dont know if from ignorance or reading the wrong sort of website.
Sustrans do not own that path, if any of you do own something, who is supposed to fix it? and how do you feel if somebody decides to "look after your property for you"?

So the only thing Sustrans can do is ask for it to be rectified and to do that they need the ammunition of complaints about the unsuitability of the track. A nice collection of letters saying it was so bad that they took the A9 instead should be quite nice to wake up the authorities.

The other option is that cyclists could go out there and tidy it up for themselves and not pass the buck to Sustrans just because they see it as being strictly its liability.
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Ron
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby Ron » 17 Feb 2013, 12:10pm

byegad wrote:Which is why so many of their off road 'routes' are total pants.


You may be confusing the terms 'Sustrans Route' and 'National Cycle Network(NCN)'.

This thread is incorrectly titled, it should read NCN Route 7. :)

Ron
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby Ron » 17 Feb 2013, 12:16pm

Ron wrote:
byegad wrote:Which is why so many of their off road 'routes' are total pants.


You may be confusing the terms 'Sustrans Route' and 'National Cycle Network(NCN)'.

This thread is incorrectly titled, it should read NCN Route 7. :)

Sustrans do build and maintain some of their own routes or sections of routes, but not in the area mentioned in the OP

byegad
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby byegad » 17 Feb 2013, 3:06pm

I gave up being a Ranger for Sustrans because of the prevailing attitude of some of its Rangers and paid workers. The idea of setting up a National Network for cyclists with so many near impassible sections off road is a joke. They take money and waste it IMHO. When you can't ride a cycle route it is not a cycle route. Sadly this is not an isolated problem, I can take you to several sections of NCN1 near me that are only passable with an unloaded MTB fitted with especially narrow handlebars.

Don't get me wrong, the idea is a good one and some of their road only routes are excellent, but how can you plan a longer ride if you cannot predict the state of the off road sections?
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thirdcrank
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Feb 2013, 4:03pm

byegad wrote: ... When you can't ride a cycle route it is not a cycle route. ..... how can you plan a longer ride if you cannot predict the state of the off road sections?


This must apply in spades, doubled and redoubled with brass knobs on in a case like this. It's not a matter of somebody going on a bit of a ride and finding it's muddy or even impassable. An End to End is a big ride in anybody's terms and for most people involves a big commitment in time (usually precious holiday time) money and effort. For anybody obliged to stick to any sort of a schedule, half a day lost might make a big difference. For somebody unwilling to use a main road like the A9 - and IMO that's their own choice, not a matter for criticism by more confident/ dafter riders, it sounds as though this could be a potential show stopper. For anybody staring in England, they would have the greater part of the ride behind them only to face the unexpected.

Let's accept that Sustrans cannot be blamed for anything because their Teflon model is 100% non-stick.

It's still unsatisfactory IMO that finding out info like this should depend on somebody posting like this.

nnc283
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby nnc283 » 17 Feb 2013, 5:27pm

To the vast majority Sustrans is shorthand for the NCN and at some point there has to be some accountability if as an organisation you are promoting a cycle route that simply isn't safe.

Ironically we had two Sustrans employees staying with us last summer, remarkably unconcerned about the state of the route I have to say, but then neither of them knew who John Grimshaw was... I kid you not.

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Mick F
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Re: Sustrans Route 7 - you have been warned!

Postby Mick F » 17 Feb 2013, 6:54pm

The Mechanic wrote:A small matter of one of the worst winters in the UK for a number of years - 2010/11. We had snow continuously for nearly 3 months.
That's it?
That made the difference?
A lone cyclist stayed at our place last year and he'd collected four punctures in the 16 miles from Drumochter.
One bad winter, and that's it? :shock:

Tell you what, I'll give it go later this year. I need a ride.
Mick F. Cornwall