Sustrans gripe

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mill4six
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Sustrans gripe

Postby mill4six » 7 Jun 2009, 8:13pm

I love the traffic free routes and use a lot of them but if I have a complaint it is that sometimes they are so fiddly I end up on the road in exasperation. e.g. roundabouts, they will signpost you all the way around using pavement and dismounting to cross each entry and exit, well I can ride a roundabout thanks very much. On a long stretch of A road recently I noticed a cycle path alternative, it meandered up into some trees, up and down and round and back, dismount to cross the main road and then off again for more of the same. I soon realized I'd added 10 miles to my day in this way and got back on the road only to endure endless abuse from motorists, of the get on the ****** path variety. It must be difficult to design a path for families with tagalongs as well as distance touring. I'm used to the local ones and use them where I find them helpfull but in unknown territory it can be frustrating!!

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hubgearfreak
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby hubgearfreak » 7 Jun 2009, 8:27pm

mill4six wrote:It must be difficult to design a path for families with tagalongs as well as distance touring.


it's an impossible task i imagine. the time and effort spent trying would be better used educating and/or punishing motorists that make the roads feel so unpleasant, IMHO

DavidT
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby DavidT » 7 Jun 2009, 8:49pm

Hi mill4six

Overall I think Sustrans have done a good job, but you are not alone with the concerns you have raised. Thank goodness the CTC made sure the latest Highway Code makes it absolutely clear that the use of Cycle facilities (Sustrans or otherwise) is at our discretion and subject to our experience. So we can stay on the road when bewildered, or worse apparently endangered, by other routing.

My main gripe with Sustrans is the unpredictability of the route surface. Near me there is a generally excellent canal path route. Excellent that is apart from suddenly after about 8 miles of reasonable surface it becomes off road and virtually impassible on my road bike after rain. No warning. Locally I have the knowledge to get around this and be prepared, but it has undermined my confidence in using Sustrans elsewhere. In a couple of weeks I'm doing a trip around Bucks. Who knows what surface the Phoenix trail has? Roads for me!

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Mick F
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby Mick F » 7 Jun 2009, 9:25pm

I believe it would have been better if Sustrans hadn't been invented.

Sorry, but the whole idea is rubbish.

Maybe it's rubbish because cycle tracks are half-hearted and too narrow and they don't have priority over junctions and they don't have good surfaces and they don't have segregation from pedestrians or busses or motorbikes, and they don't have proper funding, and they have people walking their dogs on them and there's litter and rubbish strewn all about, and the people that design them don't know what they're doing ............
Mick F. Cornwall

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hubgearfreak
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby hubgearfreak » 7 Jun 2009, 9:28pm

blimey, we agree on something :shock: :lol:

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Mick F
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby Mick F » 7 Jun 2009, 9:30pm

Thank goodness for that!
Mick F. Cornwall

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piedwagtail91
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby piedwagtail91 » 7 Jun 2009, 9:48pm

some of the cycle paths round here must have been designed by idiots. One not far from home expects you to stop at the entrance and a few yards later the exit from a pub car park. :shock:

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Cunobelin
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby Cunobelin » 7 Jun 2009, 10:26pm

Sustrans offers advice and enables, but it is the local Council that implements and builds.

Quite often this means linking the council's agenda and budget to Susrans' concepts.

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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby 2Tubs » 7 Jun 2009, 10:30pm

I think it all comes down to expectation.

If you expect all weather utility routes that will take you any where you want to go, Sustrans is rubbish.

But if you just expect poorly surfaced leisure routes, accessible only in good weather, then they do the job just fine.

I use route 5 near Birmingham fairly regularly, access to it is about a mile from my doorstep. It's great in good weather, avoid at all costs in poor weather. And I'd never use it with one of my road bikes, just an MTB.

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minkie
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby minkie » 7 Jun 2009, 10:37pm

Cunobelin wrote:Sustrans offers advice and enables, but it is the local Council that implements and builds.

Quite often this means linking the council's agenda and budget to Susrans' concepts.

So it ends up nobody has responsibility from 'vision' right through to delivery.
Hardly surprising the end result is such a frustrating mess.

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meic
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby meic » 8 Jun 2009, 12:25am

I am a Sustran's ranger and frequently post in their defence on this forum.
However the OP has given a pretty acurate report of the situation.
Most of the time it is much quicker and easier to stick to the road.

Some Sustrans routes are pleasant places to be just for their own sake.
Most of the "Sustrans routes" that are criticised are nothing to do with Sustrans.
It is easier to have a go at Sustrans as they are a minority provider.
The road system has its problems too ( and you are paying for them, unlike Sustrans which is a gift from a charity) Like you are forbiden from cycling on the major inter-city routes, oneway systems that prevent you taking direct routes, traffic lights which give a similar delay to a stupid council gate etc etc.
Over the years you learn to put up with all these defects and cease to notice them but because Sustrans is "different" it gets criticised.
If you have local knowledge you can pick and mix taking the best of both.
I know many places where the Sustrans route is the only option for anyone with a brain and other places where the farcilities (though often not Sustran's doing) are for only for children under 5 with a day to kill doing 2 miles.
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby thirdcrank » 8 Jun 2009, 6:44am

After so many years of official neglect and even hostility towards proper cycling provision in the the UK, turning everything round was never going to be easy. By handing so much of this over to a charity, everybody is a winner, except cyclists. The authorities at both national and local level can point to all sorts of highly visible bits of cycling infrastructure, even if much of it is of doubtful value, AKA rubbish, so they can say that something has been done and done following the advice of cyclists. Drivers can clamour for cyclists to be excluded from the road when there is such 'excellent' alternative provision. Cyclists choosing to use the highway in the vicinity of an off-road route risk being 'disciplined' by irate drivers. The Sustrans personnel, both full-time and voluntary, can point to the way this is organised to deny any responsibility for the actual results. The sting is taken out of a lot of cycle campaigning, partly because some see this as the way forward, partly because energy is lost through this sort of internal wrangling.

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meic
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby meic » 8 Jun 2009, 11:45am

I agree with the gist of that Thirdcrank.

However :D (you know that word means the start of the disagreement.) Sustrans seems to be getting the blame for a lot of things that are nothing to do with it.

Firstly you cite irate motorists hassling cyclists for not being on the cycle track.
Sustrans does not favour roadside cycle tracks, these tracks you are talking about are generally council ones. We are trying to get a connect2 project done here for a cycle track along a river bank, the council are trying to modify the route now to run alongside the dual carriageway and use the money for a cycle track alongside. This was seen by us involved with Sustrans as an attempt to get charity funding for road improvements. We have now reached the point where we will return the money and scrap the whole Carmarthen project. So like you we would prefer having nothing to a having a cycle track along the road side.

The public's attitude is hardly influenced by Sustrans at all. In all surveys it is found quite consistently that only 10% of the population know what Sustrans is about even vaguely. Most of the 10% are wrong too! Sustrans is equally for pedestrians and any other sustainable transport.
As for denying responsibility for the results. There are pros and cons and these have to be balanced, I for one can see many drawbacks and am worried about some of them. I think it is a mistake to think that they would not happen in Sustrans absence.

Some examples like EFs being excluded from the A road because there is a NCN route nearby. On hearing the council say this I was concerned and I do wish that Sustrans had made a formal objection to it. However I am sure the council would have excluded cyclists anyway even if there was no Sustrans route there to use. As other councils have done on many other occasions.

The obvious Sustrans failure is that a lot of people will do twice as many miles in the car to and from their cycle track as they do on their bikes. However these people were going to use their car anyway and may one day graduate to leaving the car at home.
It does happen but not in large enough numbers.

You may have noticed a shortage of children on bikes, in the present society it is likely that the only place that parents would allow their children to cycle is on a Sustrans track (with gates at each end). Would anyone care to guess how many less child cyclists we would have without Sustrans?

I accept that there is a possibility that Sustrans could lead to cycles one day being excluded from the roads but I dont agree that it is a probability. For one thing the impracticality of Sustrans tracks for any serious cycling means that the vast majority of cyclists will be staying on the roads anyway despite the tracks.

Finally the coverage of the tracks is still very limited, it is like an inverse motorway system, you can use Sustrans for certain specific routes but the majority of your travels must still be on the common roads, they do afterall out number Sustrans tracks by 1000 to 1 or more.
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EdinburghFixed
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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby EdinburghFixed » 8 Jun 2009, 12:22pm

meic wrote:Sustrans does not favour roadside cycle tracks, these tracks you are talking about are generally council ones. We are trying to get a connect2 project done here for a cycle track along a river bank, the council are trying to modify the route now to run alongside the dual carriageway and use the money for a cycle track alongside. This was seen by us involved with Sustrans as an attempt to get charity funding for road improvements. We have now reached the point where we will return the money and scrap the whole Carmarthen project. So like you we would prefer having nothing to a having a cycle track along the road side.


In this case I think Sustrans has a serious publicity / PR problem. Because to be honest, I love the idea of fully segregated cycle facilities (like Edinburgh's Roseburn Path - crossing no roads whatsoever), making sure canal towpaths are useable etc.

However, there are serious problems with loss of road amenity due to the construction of nearby / alternative segregated facilities. With NCN1 extending right up the coast it is clearly 'pitched' at distance riding but the (lack of) maintenance and design around Edinburgh is shameful. How can we have a national flagship route that is so poor that many commuters travel miles extra each day to avoid it and tourists stick to the (illegal) A90 in preference?

There is a lot that could have be done to combat this if someone (Sustrans?) was willing to stand up and advertise that these facilities are not suitable as road replacements for either social or utility use. However this would take a measure of courage that I have not seen.

meic wrote:As for denying responsibility for the results. There are pros and cons and these have to be balanced, I for one can see many drawbacks and am worried about some of them. I think it is a mistake to think that they would not happen in Sustrans absence.


The point is not that other people apart from Sustrans (i.e. the councils) are doing shoddy work. The point is that Sustrans is not promoting sustainable transport through its involvement with substandard and even actively detrimental work. The fact that they do not have the power to command does not mean they should feel unable to comment at all.

meic wrote:Some examples like EFs being excluded from the A road because there is a NCN route nearby. On hearing the council say this I was concerned and I do wish that Sustrans had made a formal objection to it. However I am sure the council would have excluded cyclists anyway even if there was no Sustrans route there to use. As other councils have done on many other occasions.


Well, who can say. Without an alternative they might have started the ban at the Dalmeny turn-off instead of at Crammond Brig, allowing cyclists in both directions to stay on road (this is what many people do anyway, look at the recent 'LEJOG on Trikes' report). It's only another half a mile but it would mean that when I'm trying to get to work, I don't have to worry about breaking my neck on a long section of 3 foot wide icy path, and in summer I wouldn't have to take my own saw and secateurs to keep the way passable!

meic wrote:I accept that there is a possibility that Sustrans could lead to cycles one day being excluded from the roads but I dont agree that it is a probability. For one thing the impracticality of Sustrans tracks for any serious cycling means that the vast majority of cyclists will be staying on the roads anyway despite the tracks.

Finally the coverage of the tracks is still very limited, it is like an inverse motorway system, you can use Sustrans for certain specific routes but the majority of your travels must still be on the common roads, they do afterall out number Sustrans tracks by 1000 to 1 or more.


But Sustrans is presumably campaigning to expand the network, right? So what we'd like is a commitment to making a recreational network that does not undermine us by pretending to replace the road network. Originally you could cycle to Fife on a smooth, well maintained road. Now you can't. The reason is not so much that a cycle path existed as a very poor cycle path existed which advertised itself as a quality transport link.

Sorry to vent - I know you aren't Sustrans!

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Re: Sustrans gripe

Postby Big T » 8 Jun 2009, 12:47pm

We used quite a few Sustrans tracks on our recent JOGLE. Some of the ones in Scotland are excellent. We managed to ride right across Glasgow from Balloch at the foot of Loch Lomond to Hamilton in the east without hardly ever riding on a road. The path going eastwards from the city centre following the river was particularly good.

The route south from Hamilton to Lockerbie was also a Sustrans route. It's follows the B7078, which is the old main road before the M74 was built. On long stretches, one of the former dual carraigeways had been turned into a cyclepath which provided miles of traffic free cycling on a direct route.

However, some of the paths in England left something to be desired. We followed the Granite trail from Sourton Cross near Okehampton - an old railway line, which is fine for a couple of miles, but you're then directed off the old railway onto a steep and rocky bridlepath, unsuitable for anything but a full susser MTB.

If they can't provide a decent, full route from A to B, then they shouldn't bother at all.
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