sustrans cuts routes

Pete Owens
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Re: National Cycle Network Being Slashed

Postby Pete Owens » 21 Jul 2020, 1:19am

NickWi wrote:It looks like as of Monday we will no longer having a National Cycle Network!


That presupposes there was such a thing in the first place - or even that creating such a thing was ever a sensible objective from a cycling perspective.

Cycle trips are by nature local. A means to get from A-B or C or D or ... Z. Where all these things are within a few km either within your town or possibly neighboring towns and villages. Any network needs to be very fine grained. A national network is the opposite; it is very course grained and for most people takes a longer ride than a typical cycle journey just to reach their nearest route - and then that route is probably not heading where the cyclist wants to go.

It makes sense to provide national networks for high speed modes of transport such as trains or cars - modes of transport that people do use to go from one end of the country to another, but cycling trips are always going to be short.

Note that the above argument takes no account of the nature the routes making up the network. Whether they are on roads or paths, whether the routes are direct or indirect, whether they are well designed or rubbish. The basic concept is at the wrong scale for the intended users.

atlas_shrugged
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby atlas_shrugged » 21 Jul 2020, 8:32am

> but cycling trips are always going to be short

This is an incomplete statement. It should probably read 'cycling trips are short in the UK because of our pusillanimous politicians'. Working in favour of building long-distance cycle routes are these factors:

* Average speed of motor vehicles between towns is plummeting (average speed for an 84 mile journey typically 29.6 mph in best conditions)
* Average speed of motor vehicles worst case within a town is slower than walking (worst case 2 mph and less)
* Woeful public transport average speed especially on weekends (cycling is faster)
* Leisure cycle tourism and the grey pound (think German OAPs and the Danube cycle route)
* Increased participation in extreme cycling events e.g. London-Edinburgh-London
* Expressways are wealth extractors from communities whereas Greenways encourage local spending
* Increased interest in UK Audax events
* The robustness of cycling during emergencies e.g. pandemics, power station failure, terrorist attacks etc
* The massive program of long distance Greenway building seen in EU countries e.g. D, NL, A
* The need to prevent UK from being fattest western European nation
* The need to prevent congestion and pollution in UK cities
* Cycling brings in less tax revenue so they have less to miss-spend

ratherbeintobago
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby ratherbeintobago » 21 Jul 2020, 8:43am

The need to prevent UK from being fattest western European nation


I thought the Belgians were well ahead of us on that one?

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mjr
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby mjr » 21 Jul 2020, 8:57am

ratherbeintobago wrote:
The need to prevent UK from being fattest western European nation


I thought the Belgians were well ahead of us on that one?

Nothing like, despite their love of friets/frites, they're down near Germany with 22% obese. We're number two with 27%! Malta is ahead of us, but the UK has been getting more obese the last decade or so. See https://obesity.procon.org/global-obesity-levels/
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atlas_shrugged
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby atlas_shrugged » 21 Jul 2020, 9:12am

I believe it is only Malta and Turkey that exceed us in weight but my assertion was for western Europe. The UK gets the prize and our OAPs urgently need to get out and exercise before the obesity time-bomb hits and destroys our 'anychess'.

thirdcrank
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby thirdcrank » 21 Jul 2020, 10:41am

This thread about the resurfacing of the descent from Greenhow Hill on the B6265 (Red Brae Bank) has now included relevant comment on the Sustrans Route using it.

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=139360

In monty Python terms, it sounds like an ex-route

mattsccm
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby mattsccm » 22 Jul 2020, 5:32pm

"elitist attitude".
Or just not reducing everything to the lowest common denominator. :D
I have little sympathy for the idea of making things easy for people.

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby Bmblbzzz » 22 Jul 2020, 8:09pm

"Cut" is slightly misleading. The only sections being "cut" are on roads. Therefore, they won't cease to exist. Some signs will disappear, some maps will be altered. Some routes will become discontinuous; if you're following one long distance, you've *probably* but by no means certainly got some idea of where you're going and some way-finding method other than road signs. But if you're just out for a local potter and relying on the signs to show you where is a good place to potter without cars, you might not! Equally, if you had followed the signs off the end of the motor-free section on to the road, you would have been mislead - it's no longer pleasant. So from that perspective, removing the signs is a sensible decision.

Calling these routes "routes" in the first place opens up a contradiction. A route goes from one place to another. It might be a long, such as a coast to coast route, or it might just be from the suburbs into the city centre, but the idea is to get somewhere. Which is great, and is what many Sustrans ways do. But quite a lot of them don't really go anywhere, they just mark out the pleasant places to bimble. Which is also great.

There used to be (maybe still are in some places?) "Local" sections of NCN, marked with numbers on a blue background. Perhaps a similar dual-marking system could be used to differentiate between "routes" (which go places but might involve fairly busy roads) and "ways" [a better term is invited] which are pleasant places to go for a leisure route but won't necessarily help you get to work, school, shops etc.

mikeymo
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Re: National Cycle Network Being Slashed

Postby mikeymo » 23 Jul 2020, 11:42am

gloomyandy wrote:I've cycled on the roads that make up the Hebridean Cycle Way many times and to be honest they are probably much safer in many respects than the Sustrans owned and maintained Spen Valley Greenway which is local to me.


I get your point, but The Hebridean Way is atypical, isn't it? South Uist is the size of a (small) English county, but with a population of 1800. "Main" roads are usually single track, vision is excellent, drivers more courteous, etc.

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pjclinch
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Re: National Cycle Network Being Slashed

Postby pjclinch » 23 Jul 2020, 12:29pm

mikeymo wrote:
gloomyandy wrote:I've cycled on the roads that make up the Hebridean Cycle Way many times and to be honest they are probably much safer in many respects than the Sustrans owned and maintained Spen Valley Greenway which is local to me.


I get your point, but The Hebridean Way is atypical, isn't it? South Uist is the size of a (small) English county, but with a population of 1800. "Main" roads are usually single track, vision is excellent, drivers more courteous, etc.


Atypical as a whole, but not atypical if you're up in the far reaches of the country.
This, for example, is a bit of NCN1, or rather former NCN1, on the mainland, declassified as this is notionally a 60mph A-Road (the A836 heading North from Lairg, it was a wonderful ride)

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pwa
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby pwa » 23 Jul 2020, 3:25pm

Just looking quickly at routes that I know to be treacherous and which Sustrans deems up to spec, and a road which Sustrans deems dodgy but I don't, I am more than ever inclined to judge these things for myself and consider Sustrans only as one source of suggestions for routes. Their idea of a nice ride is not always the same as my own.

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby mjr » 23 Jul 2020, 4:40pm

Compare what happens with roads. For example, the A371 still goes through some narrow single-track sections at Banwell and Draycott among other sections which are pretty surely non-conformant with the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges. Warning signs are put up about the substandard width, some a fair few miles back IIRC so you can choose an alternative. The road won't be declassified or deleted from maps until a replacement is in place (which has been discussed for over 25 years for Banwell and will probably never happen for Draycott).

The NCN routes should have been treated like a cycling equivalent of A roads but no, not even Sustrans treats sustainable transport cycling as a first-class citizen :(
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mikeymo
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby mikeymo » 23 Jul 2020, 4:51pm

mjr wrote:The NCN routes should have been treated like a cycling equivalent of A roads but no, not even Sustrans treats sustainable transport cycling as a first-class citizen :(


Exactly.

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby mjr » 23 Jul 2020, 4:56pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:"Cut" is slightly misleading. The only sections being "cut" are on roads. Therefore, they won't cease to exist. Some signs will disappear, some maps will be altered. Some routes will become discontinuous; if you're following one long distance, you've *probably* but by no means certainly got some idea of where you're going and some way-finding method other than road signs. But if you're just out for a local potter and relying on the signs to show you where is a good place to potter without cars, you might not! Equally, if you had followed the signs off the end of the motor-free section on to the road, you would have been mislead - it's no longer pleasant. So from that perspective, removing the signs is a sensible decision.

Surely that depends on the road? Going off the end of a motor-free section onto a long single track dead-end road serving a couple of farms is unlikely to be hell.

Also, there are plenty of 60mph roads being kept in the NCN. Otherwise, almost all the blue solid lines on the Sustrans OS Map layer would be in built-up areas and the network would have been cut up even more.

The roads might not cease to exist but there will now be even more guesswork involved about which is the best road to take, probably spreading the small number of cyclists even more thinly between them. My example: you arrive at the dead-end of NCN11 in Ely heading north (congratulations on surviving the very stony farm track!). How do you get to the next section at Ten Mile Bank?
1. National Byway B road to Queen Alexandra, a C-class road to Littleport, 100m on an A road and U-class road to Ten Mile Bank;
2. Cycleway alongside a B road to Little Downham, a few miles on a U-class road, 50m on an A road to a roundabout, then a C-class through Littleport, across an A road and then a U-class road to Ten Mile Bank;
3. Cycleway alongside a B road to Little Downham, then the B road to a rural A road for a few miles and on to a C-class road to Ten Mile Bank;
4. Cycleway alongside a C-class road, then the C-class road to/through Littleport, across an A road and then a U-class road to Ten Mile Bank.

Now, I know which I would currently take and which I will take in a few months time if some announced works are completed, based on stuff like traffic levels, road widths and driver behaviour, which is stuff that won't appear on many maps, will it?

Interestingly, cycle.travel picks the one closest to the current NCN, but that's not one I'd pick either now or later, unless I wanted to go to the bird reserve.
Calling these routes "routes" in the first place opens up a contradiction. A route goes from one place to another. It might be a long, such as a coast to coast route, or it might just be from the suburbs into the city centre, but the idea is to get somewhere. Which is great, and is what many Sustrans ways do. But quite a lot of them don't really go anywhere, they just mark out the pleasant places to bimble. Which is also great.

Name a NCN route which didn't go anywhere? It didn't always go the most direct route between neighbouring towns (National Route 1 Lynn to Wisbech = 33km, Local Route 9 - Market Lane - Wisbech Road = 26km) but it was often arguable (Route 1 did not have a level crossing with an A road, unlike Market Lane).

The main problem was that we needed more routes to form a network linking each town to its neighbours directly, rather than it looking like you should go from A to D via H, W and F instead of B and C...

There used to be (maybe still are in some places?) "Local" sections of NCN, marked with numbers on a blue background.

I think those were Regional Routes. Many were renumbered into the national routes a few years ago. The remainder seem to have been deleted from the NCN now (Sustrans replied to me that "Regional Route sections in the area have been removed from the map as they do not meet the quality standards we aspire to for the National Cycle Network"), but I don't know if the blue route numbers have become available for other uses now.

I think Norfolk do different again: Norwich has used coloured squares and West Norfolk has black numbers on white and I don't think either of those appear in TSRGD but I haven't checked.
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby Bmblbzzz » 23 Jul 2020, 5:27pm

mjr wrote:The roads might not cease to exist but there will now be even more guesswork involved about which is the best road to take, probably spreading the small number of cyclists even more thinly between them. My example: you arrive at the dead-end of NCN11 in Ely heading north (congratulations on surviving the very stony farm track!). How do you get to the next section at Ten Mile Bank?
1. National Byway B road to Queen Alexandra, a C-class road to Littleport, 100m on an A road and U-class road to Ten Mile Bank;
2. Cycleway alongside a B road to Little Downham, a few miles on a U-class road, 50m on an A road to a roundabout, then a C-class through Littleport, across an A road and then a U-class road to Ten Mile Bank;
3. Cycleway alongside a B road to Little Downham, then the B road to a rural A road for a few miles and on to a C-class road to Ten Mile Bank;
4. Cycleway alongside a C-class road, then the C-class road to/through Littleport, across an A road and then a U-class road to Ten Mile Bank.

Now, I know which I would currently take and which I will take in a few months time if some announced works are completed, based on stuff like traffic levels, road widths and driver behaviour, which is stuff that won't appear on many maps, will it?

Interestingly, cycle.travel picks the one closest to the current NCN, but that's not one I'd pick either now or later, unless I wanted to go to the bird reserve.

Yes! Your preference isn't the preference of either NCN or cycle.travel. You obviously have local knowledge, J.Random Tourist obviously does not, but they do have their own preferences. The de-designation(!) means JRT will simply have to judge for themselves from map, or ask a local and/or other cyclist, to choose a route; or of course use cycle.travel, rwgps, komoot, etc. (maybe even a thirty year old CTC guide to Norfolk!) and they'll take into account their own preference for fast or slow, traffic, hills (in Norfolk?), towns and villages, etc.

Seeing as the NCN is not routed according to consistent standards on road, this is no big loss. Except to those navigating solely by following the red squares. And isn't this the idea of the review process? To ensure some kind of consistency in the on-road routes.