Planning a route

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by PBancroft, 16 Dec 2007.

  1. PBancroft

    PBancroft Senior Member

    What tips can folk recommend for planning a route?

    My current cycle commute is the same as my drive commute, about 12 miles. I've been looking at maps, online and off, and am certain there is a better route to take, and some of it would be off road, which is a bonus! I can't get time off to trial it, so if I were to go with it, it would be a live run.

    What should I be looking out for on off-road routes?
  2. Brock

    Brock Senior Member

    What sort of off road routes are you looking at? Bridle paths can be a bit of a nightmare if you're not on big squashy knobblies, especially in the wet, on the other hand they might be perfectly rideable on a 700x28 hybrid.. Can't think of how you'd find out without looking for yourself.
    Leave an hour early?
  3. Maz

    Maz Legendary Member

    Like you say, do a live run. Over time you'll fine-tune the route to suit yourself.
  4. Brock

    Brock Senior Member


    Or did you mean ducks eggs, badger stools and disgarded porno mags? :smile:
  5. Old Walrus

    Old Walrus Über Member

    Get a good large scale local map and check out the bridleways etc. Also go on to Google Earth or similar and follow your route using the aerial photos, I found some handy little (legal) paths that way which meant avoiding a nasty junction.
  6. threefingerjoe

    threefingerjoe Über Member

    St. Louis, MO, USA
    Don't know if you're in a city, but if you are, streets are often layed out in a grid, so you can look for a parallel street 1 block off of your car route, which may be less congested, and may help you avoid some hills and traffic signals.

  7. ColinJ

    ColinJ It's a puzzle ...

    Hey Joe (where you going with that gun in your hand...? No, maybe not :blush:).

    Cities may be laid out like that in the USA because most of them have developed over the past 100-150 years and that's a logical way to go about it. Most of the cities in the rest of the world have grown out of towns which grew out of villages many hundreds of years ago and that wasn't how they went about things then. The only place that I've been to in the UK laid out on a grid is a new town called Milton Keynes. It is also one of the few towns I get lost in because everywhere looks the same as everywhere else. There are no little quirky roads and buildings to remember. I don't like it at all. Logical and beautiful are not necessarily the same thing.

    For people who live in cities laid out in grids, what you say is correct. I just don't think there are many people on this forum who do.
  8. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    I like Paul Dorn's take on this, which is to not think like a driver xx(

    The most direct route makes a lot of sense at times, but if it's a busy dual carriageway, or a nasty rat run, you might want to look at taking something slightly more circuitous that has lower levels of (or slower) traffic. If you have a local bike shop at either end of the journey, try asking there - my old route to Manchester was recommended to me by one of the guys at the LBS. and also have searchable routes databases you can use.
  9. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    Yes, that's an interesting cultural difference point. For example I live here:


    Barely a straight line in the place! (except the terraces in South Bank)

    I believe you guys over there have a little city that took its name from mine, but is rather more gridlike...xx(

    Kaipaith, the best advice, as has been said, if you really can't do a dry run, is to allow a load of spare time the first time, and take it from there. Bridle paths may be very boggy or churned up, and you want to allow time for if you have to get off and walk.
  10. biking_fox

    biking_fox Veteran

    Can you do a weekend run? Set aside an afternoon and treat it as if going for a bike ride- OK there'll be less traffic than durng commuter hour, but you'll get a feel for the road layout, lanes to be in, and dodgy bits of offroad. If you are feeling fit, you cna go back and forth comparing the various options you have available to you.

    Things to take not eof whne planning: Lighting - true off road sections will be very dark at this time of year! Make sure you have good lights. SHared use paths are generally slower than the road. You may need to allow more time than you thought.
  11. mrben

    mrben New Member

    FWIW, that's not quite true - the centre of Glasgow has had a grid system for a number of years before Milton Keynes came into existence, although it is on a slightly different scale.
  12. HJ

    HJ Cycling in Scotland

    Auld Reekie
    You should get out more, try the New Town in Edinburgh or Ullapool, as two examples off the top of heid, and there a lot better places to live than Milton Keynes...;)
  13. neslon

    neslon Well-Known Member

    The Toon
    Whoever it was that said start an hour earlier was right - use multimap or similar to plan, then get out & try it. Cycling is inherently fun, cycling into the unknown - tremendous!
  14. threefingerjoe

    threefingerjoe Über Member

    St. Louis, MO, USA
    Yes, I agree, the dry run on a weekend is a good thing to try. Also, the "leave EARLY" advice. I STILL leave plenty early, just in case of a breakdown.

    The comment about the lack of a "grid system" in cities probably isn't really a cultural thing. In my city, St. Louis, which is one of our older "frontier towns", only parts of the city are laid out in that grid system. We also have a lot of older roads which lead into the city in a sort of "spoke" design, much as that map that someone sent. This metropolitan area is really a patchwork of little towns that eventually grew together. Still, if you can find a more-or-less parallel road, it may have less motor vehicle traffic. Like someone was saying earlier, we have to stop thinking like motorists.

    GREAT bunch of people here! Wonderful site!

  15. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    I'm ashamed to say I know nothing about St Louis, except there was a film called "Meet me in St Louis." Assuming it's the same one. Well, at least I now also know that it has a spoke pattern like York.

    I always leave early, but that's a congenital problem I have. I managed to be a whole week early for something once - although that was a mistake with the dates...
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