sustrans cuts routes

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mjr
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby mjr » 23 Jul 2020, 6:28pm

Bmblbzzz wrote: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.

And I've already explained why that's a bad thing, plus JRT will now be deciding based on less information about where other cyclists are likely to be.

The point I was trying to make was that NCN routes were at least arguable - this example was even more so for tourists because the bird reserve is nationally significant and Littleport isn't that interesting - and it benefitted cyclists to be encouraged to congregate on one route, even if that did mean riding 1km on a lumpy riverside A road.

Maybe I should have included "option 5 - give up and go home" because that's what Sustrans have done now!

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.

I don't know: is that the idea of the review process? If so, it doesn't seem to be achieved by what looks like a desk-based study of motor traffic volumes and speeds - and from what I've seen, I doubt the volume data was specific enough, leading to some bizarre decisions about what to keep and what to declassify.

And weren't far more of the complaints about Sustrans about the off-road routes that were basically MTB-only and unusable by most children? It looks like all of those were kept, yet they deleted long stretches of back roads (including some with formal "Quiet Lanes" designation and signs) which I'd never heard much complaint about.
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby mikeymo » 23 Jul 2020, 6:36pm

mjr wrote:And weren't far more of the complaints about Sustrans about the off-road routes that were basically MTB-only and unusable by most children? It looks like all of those were kept, yet they deleted long stretches of back roads (including some with formal "Quiet Lanes" designation and signs) which I'd never heard much complaint about.


Yes, somebody earlier mentioned the Hebridean Way, parts of which I know well. There are parts of that where you won't see a car for miles, and even if you do, it won't be going that fast. Was it 20 mph maximum speeds or average speed that excludes roads? Hardly any HGVs on the islands either.

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby Bmblbzzz » 23 Jul 2020, 6:49pm

mjr wrote:... it benefitted cyclists to be encouraged to congregate on one route, even if that did mean riding 1km on a lumpy riverside A road.

I'm really not sure about this. Is it better for cyclists to congregate on one route or for there to be one cyclist on each road? And in both cases, in what was is it better? "Safety in numbers" might be one argument, but I'm not sure that really favours one scenario over the other: firstly, because concentration doesn't help the cyclists riding on other roads (because they live there or whatever) and doesn't affect the mindset of the drivers who don't drive on that high-concentration road. Secondly, because it tends to be large concentrations of cyclists that annoy motorists and stir them to petty vindictive deliberate close passes etc.

And weren't far more of the complaints about Sustrans about the off-road routes that were basically MTB-only and unusable by most children? It looks like all of those were kept, yet they deleted long stretches of back roads (including some with formal "Quiet Lanes" designation and signs) which I'd never heard much complaint about.

Yes, I think so. Certainly I've heard more complaints about those need-an-mtb sections, obviously I don't know what reaches Sustrans HQ. Have they deleted sections of "quiet lanes"? If so, do you know why?

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby mjr » 23 Jul 2020, 7:21pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:
mjr wrote:... it benefitted cyclists to be encouraged to congregate on one route, even if that did mean riding 1km on a lumpy riverside A road.

I'm really not sure about this. Is it better for cyclists to congregate on one route or for there to be one cyclist on each road? And in both cases, in what was is it better? "Safety in numbers" might be one argument, but I'm not sure that really favours one scenario over the other:

I think it's better to congregate and yes, "safety in numbers" is the main argument. I disagree that it's the large concentrations of cyclists that stirs motorists to vindictive bad behaviour: I feel they seem less likely to try it if they can see they're outnumbered. Incompetence is unaffected in the moment, though. In the long term, motorists who don't want to drive among cyclists learn to avoid the routes with the little bike symbols on them.

You're right that it doesn't help the cyclists riding on other roads because they live there or whatever, of course, but spreading riders across 4 or 5 roads is unlikely to form a critical mass on any of them anyway. The best thing we can do is get more people cycling generally and I feel a complete route network would help do that more than a scattering of stubs.

Have they deleted sections of "quiet lanes"? If so, do you know why?

Yes, they were on the eastern half of the Norfolk Coast Cycleway, and I'm still trying to get to the bottom of why. I doubt they even have traffic data for them (they say they used DfT and INRIX) so I wonder if it's something like the Norfolk Coast AONB Partnership refused to spend loads of money changing all the RR30 signs to say National 517, which is what appears to have happened to the urban bit south of the AONB.
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby Pete Owens » 23 Jul 2020, 10:16pm

atlas_shrugged wrote:> 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:

No of necessity due to the inherent limitations of the vehicle. Even if you were to give over the entire motoraway and trunk road network to exclusive cycle use people would not use cycles for such long journies. Cycles are brilliant for short journeys particularly within congested towns and cities. They are still a possible option for travelling to neighbouring towns and villages but not for trips across the country. Focusing your effort on a national network is simply on the wrong scale for the mode - in pretty much the same way as developing a network of local airports for cross city trips.

You list of bullet points actually serves to emphasise this:
* Average speed of motor vehicles between towns is plummeting (average speed for an 84 mile journey typically 29.6 mph in best conditions)

First: and most obvious - 84 mile journey is simply too far to consider cycling as a choice of transport.

Second: 29.6 mph is extremely fast - about 3 times the speed of cycling. Even if I was up to cycling 84 miles it is going to take me longer to reach the destination than to drive there, do whatever I was going to do and drive home again.

Third: that average is brought down by the slow bits on local roads at either end to reach the national network which will be much faster. It could well be that you could cycle to the nearest motorway junction faster than you could drive - you will not keep ahead for much longer. Indeed this emphasises why a national network makes sense for cars but not cycles. The disparity of speed means If you are driving it makes sense to go out of your way to reach a faster road even if this significantly increases the distance. With cycling speed is limited by the rider rather than road so the most direct route is almost always going to be fastest.

Fourth: (not that it is really relevant) typical car trips are significantly faster than that. I cant find a city of about that distance from me that google doesn't get me to at less than 40mph. Even places such as Aberystwith which involves crossing Wales on relaively slow roads. I don't know where you got your absurdly precise figure from, but it can only be by carefully choosing particularly congested towns, not served by the strategic roads network at a bad time of day.
* Average speed of motor vehicles worst case within a town is slower than walking (worst case 2 mph and less)

Indeed - these are SHORT trips where cycling comes into its own and for which a NATIONAL network is irrelevant.
* Woeful public transport average speed especially on weekends (cycling is faster)

Cycling will always be faster than LOCAL buses - but even if I was to set off riding non on a Sunday to London on a day when every single train was cancelled it would still be quicker to stay at home, get a good nights sleep and catch the first train on Monday morning.
* Leisure cycle tourism and the grey pound (think German OAPs and the Danube cycle route)

Relegating cycling as a leisure activity rather than considering it as a serious mode of transport is one of the main reasons why cycling is treated so badly in this country - and also why the national network is so incoherent even in its own terms. A cycle touring route is no more transport infrastructure than a velodrome or a BMX track. If you start off planning a cycle route in terms of leisure then you are asking the wrong question on the most fundamental level. For a cycle network the question you need to ask is:
"What is the most effective way to get from A to B?"
For a leisure route the question is:
"Where is a nice place to go for a ride?"

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby gaz » 23 Jul 2020, 10:27pm

mjr wrote:... 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.

Think of this announcement as phase 1,the urgent stuff that Sustrans has decided to drop PDQ.

51% of the on-road sections in Kent were rated 'very poor' in the Network Review, I can't recall the national data. Sustrans is currently looking at a twenty year timescale for 'improvements' in partnership with Kent County Council/Medway UA. If there isn't support for improvement ...

There is more pruning of the NCN to come.
2020 : To redundancy ... and beyond!

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby Pete Owens » 24 Jul 2020, 2:11am

Perhaps it would be better for all concerned, most of all Sustrans themselves, if they abandoned the concept of the NCN altogether.

There is a place in the world for converted rail trails. They are not greatly significant in terms of transport, so properly the role of a charity. The quality is not of a great concern if they are just aimed at a bit of a leisure activity in the countryside - and since all the serious engineering has already been done by victorian railway engineers the cost is not too great. They probably will not go anywhere particularly useful (they wouldn't have become disused otherwise) but may be in scenic parts of the countryside.

If Sustrans went back to doing what they were doing before 1995, rather than seeking public funding by pretending to be running a national transport network, then they would be judged much more favourably. The routes would be places that people would want to go to just for the sake of being there (in the way that a muddy track behind the sewage works is never going to be). If they concentrated on just a few routes rather than trying to spread their effort too thinly they might actually be able to do these things well.

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby pwa » 24 Jul 2020, 9:05am

Pete Owens wrote:Perhaps it would be better for all concerned, most of all Sustrans themselves, if they abandoned the concept of the NCN altogether.

There is a place in the world for converted rail trails. They are not greatly significant in terms of transport, so properly the role of a charity. The quality is not of a great concern if they are just aimed at a bit of a leisure activity in the countryside - and since all the serious engineering has already been done by victorian railway engineers the cost is not too great. They probably will not go anywhere particularly useful (they wouldn't have become disused otherwise) but may be in scenic parts of the countryside.

If Sustrans went back to doing what they were doing before 1995, rather than seeking public funding by pretending to be running a national transport network, then they would be judged much more favourably. The routes would be places that people would want to go to just for the sake of being there (in the way that a muddy track behind the sewage works is never going to be). If they concentrated on just a few routes rather than trying to spread their effort too thinly they might actually be able to do these things well.


The Bridgend area (close to me) has had a lot of new shared use paths constructed alongside dual carriageways in the last two or three years, all of which are aimed more at utility rather than leisure, and none of which have any Sustrans involvement. They are Local Authority projects. I wonder if Sustrans has much of a role now.

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby wjhall » 24 Jul 2020, 9:12am

Pete Owens wrote:Perhaps it would be better for all concerned, most of all Sustrans themselves, if they abandoned the concept of the NCN altogether.

T....l.


I doubt if I would set off on an NCN route without checking very carefully whether it was rideable, but some of the bits near here are both useful and pleasant, for example the Strawberry Line, which gets you out on the moors and provides a useful cut across a gap in the minor road network, with even some potential for commuting use, between the small towns in what is inevitably still a rather suburban countryside.

Other, on road, routes are useful for indicating likely quiet routes in the countryside, and signs to remind those of us with poor memory where we are. Where the on road routes trip up is with the trendy slogans like AAA (All Ages and Abilities), and 8 to 80, which tend to steer development towards toddler compatible off road routes, tending to be dog legs in parks, because toddler compatible country lanes will probably always be a fantasy. The on road routes are just never going to be toddler compatible. In fact the more sceptical might say on road routes will never be suitable for anyone but the traffic hardened or nerveless, but they do have their uses for everyone over about ten, as places where a moment's inattention is less likely to get you run over.

The point about the national network, if we ignore people who might take holidays along long lengths, is that it is everywhere, so different people use their local bits of it, and it provides a nationwide reminder that cycling can exist. It is analogous to the Cross Country Penzance to Edinburgh train service; the number of travellers over the whole route is probably a small part of the total, but it provides numerous overlapping sub-regional journeys.

pwa is correct to point out that utility infrastructure is really a local authority responsibility. Unfortunately SUSTRANS are still busy trying to get involved in towns, for example in Bristol, with poor results because utility routes need to be direct in a way which is unlike the cobbled together NCN, and toddler proofing tends to steer them towards doglegs through parks.

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby mjr » 24 Jul 2020, 12:33pm

Pete Owens wrote:There is a place in the world for converted rail trails. They are not greatly significant in terms of transport, so properly the role of a charity.

If a fairly level, fairly straight, fairly stable route usually into a town/city centre is not greatly significant in terms of transport, then I think you're doing it wrong! Three of the most popular routes into King's Lynn (the Sandringham Railway, the Sand Line Path and Harding's Way) and two into Norwich (Marriott's Way and Lakenham Way) are rail trails. From memory of other places, I don't think that's unusual: the Newport Nobby in MK, the former WC&P Light Railway route into Weston-super-Mare, the Two Tunnels into Bath and of course the Bristol&Bath Railway Path.

The quality is not of a great concern if they are just aimed at a bit of a leisure activity in the countryside - and since all the serious engineering has already been done by victorian railway engineers the cost is not too great. They probably will not go anywhere particularly useful (they wouldn't have become disused otherwise) but may be in scenic parts of the countryside.

There are many reasons why railways may have become disused. We lost a large rail network in Norfolk because most of it was a duplicate built by competitors of the Great Eastern reputedly deemed not worth the cost of replacing a few bridges and rebuilding war-damaged stations and then market town branches were cut back by Beeching based on oft-questioned accounting.

The duplicate Midland & Great Northern network was insulted as the Muddle & Go Nowhere but that was more because it mainly offered services to the less popular Midlands and North and not London. It connected Lynn and Fakenham through North Walsham and Stalham to Yarmouth and Cromer to Norwich in a fairly sane X pattern, marked in red on this map:
Image

You can tell these former railways would be useful by how they're already being used:
· More than half of Fakenham to Norwich has already been converted into the Marriott's Way national route 1
· Aylsham to Stalham was converted into the Weavers Way local route (both resurfaced but not paved)
· Lynn to Fakenham is basically shadowed by local route 2 and there are (stalled) plans to convert that railway: http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/greenways
· Half of Fakenham to Cromer survives as the North Norfolk Railway heritage line, much of the rest was taken by A and B roads and much of Stalham to Yarmouth was taken by A/B roads, so they aren't available for conversion.

The GER branches are shown in blue and most of those been reused for transport too:
· Still in mainline use: Norwich to Yarmouth and south, Norwich to Cromer, and Lynn southwards, plus part of Lynn-Swaffham is still used for quarry trains.
· Still in heritage use: Wymondham-Dereham and halfway to Fakenham is another heritage railway (the Mid Norfolk Railway) with long-held hopes of building north to connect to the NNR; Wroxham to Aylsham is a narrow-gauge conversion (the Bure Valley Railway) with a cyclable stone track alongside; Walsingham to Wells is a narrow-gauge conversion.
· Stolen by motorists: the Dereham end of Swaffham-Dereham was taken by an A road.
· Shadowed or used by actual or proposed cycle routes: Thetford-Swaffham (shadow), Lynn to Hunstanton (mostly shadow) and Walsingham to Fakenham (mostly shadow - NCN1).

So, as you can see, rail trails could form a decent direct interurban transport network near me. Using the actual railways would be flatter and more direct than the shadow routes while still serving the desire lines.

The main missing links would be Thetford to Norwich (still a live railway) and Dereham to Norwich (which never had one) and Highways England might provide the latter alongside the A47 Dereham to Norwich upgrade, if they don't shirk and screw that up like the A11.

And for completeness: Downham Market to Swaffham and Thetford has just-cut-by-Sustrans cycle routes which have more to do with forest roads than railways.

If Sustrans went back to doing what they were doing before 1995, rather than seeking public funding by pretending to be running a national transport network, then they would be judged much more favourably.

By whom? If that sustainable transport charity now repurposed itself into "Leisure Rail Trails UK" then I feel it would become an annoying irrelevance and a "bait and switch", having hoovered up millions of cycling funding and then given up on the challenge.

No, right or wrong, they took the money to create a national cycle network. They cannot undo history and I bet they can't afford to pay that money back or on to someone willing to do the job, so they really ought to do it to the best of their abilities.
Last edited by mjr on 24 Jul 2020, 4:49pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby Bmblbzzz » 24 Jul 2020, 4:19pm

Pete Owens wrote:There is a place in the world for converted rail trails. They are not greatly significant in terms of transport, so properly the role of a charity. The quality is not of a great concern if they are just aimed at a bit of a leisure activity in the countryside - and since all the serious engineering has already been done by victorian railway engineers the cost is not too great. They probably will not go anywhere particularly useful (they wouldn't have become disused otherwise) but may be in scenic parts of the countryside.

Railways tend to go from town to town. Some of those closed go from small town to tiny village, but tiny villages tended not to have railways in the first place so most of them go from one town to another. Some even between large, adjacent cities. They were closed not because they didn't go anywhere useful but because they were parallel routes, from the great Victorian railway boom of competing companies, and so deemed "redundant" in rail terms.

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby Oldjohnw » 24 Jul 2020, 6:02pm

The multiple old tracks in the Peak District were a consequence of different landowners wanting their own railway. So several covered similar routes. Some even had stations just for the landowners.

A probae waste of money - apart from providing many jobs - but there are many good reasons today to be glad they are there.
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wearwell
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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby wearwell » 24 Jul 2020, 8:55pm

Talking of railways quite a lot of redundant routes have been adopted by rail enthusiasts. We have one here https://www.e-v-r.com/ basically a big boys full size train set and tourist experience.
Struck me you could do something like this https://walloniabelgiumtourism.co.uk/en ... un-day-out but take it further: imagine something the size of a normal passenger coach (66 seater) but built like a recumbent bike - light weight, aerodynamic, big team pedalling a bit like a rowing eight but a pedalling 66. It'd go like [inappropriate word removed] off a shovel and might even tow freight.
Just a thought.

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby thirdcrank » 24 Jul 2020, 10:00pm

Something a bit like this but running on rails?

viewtopic.php?p=36442#p36442

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Re: sustrans cuts routes

Postby wearwell » 25 Jul 2020, 7:37pm

thirdcrank wrote:Something a bit like this but running on rails?

viewtopic.php?p=36442#p36442
Yep! But recumbent, aerodynamic, enclosed. Could be 2 or 3 decks like bireme/trireme? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bireme#:~ ... 6%20Greeks. Would only need a few pedalling whilst the others laid back reading the paper, playing with their smart phones and/or drinking G&Ts.
Climate change means things being very different, but starting from here, not reverting to the past. We have a worldwide rail infrastructure already in place.