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Previous entry: Saturday’s cycle ride

Monday, 14 May 2012
NCN Route 21 is a disgrace

On Saturday I rode the section from Bletchingley to East Grinstead of the National Cycle Network Route 21.  It was not an unfrustrating experience and I would like to place on record that this route is a bit of a national disgrace. Here are some of the things that I noticed:

I have done sections of the route before and I still deviated from the route four or six times and had to track my way back. I am not counting another couple of times that I ended up taking a short-cut back onto the route without tracking back.

I can only suppose that the designers of the route were assuming that cyclists would take a map with them, and not rely on the signposting.  And of course the problem with “disappearing cycle lanes is a generic problem in Surrey that can hardly be laid at the door of the NCN organisers, who are using existing infrastructure that is maintained by local authorities. In other words some of the disgrace probably lies with the Surrey County Council as well as with the National Cycle Network organisers.

The signs which they use to mark the route are of two kinds:

  1. Metal pointer signs which are attached to existing poles (e.g. lamp posts); These are easily “adjusted” by local delinquents so that they point in a different direction; and
  2. Stickers which are also attached to existing poles.  These are easily removed or defaced by local delinquents.

It would be better if the route organisers used special poles and signs (like those used in national walking routes/trails).  Here are some examples; I didn’t attempt to document all the problems photographically, as I was concentrating on my cycling ....

In the sign in the photograph above, the bottom part of the sticker has been removed so that the arrow pointing left has been removed.  It therefore gives the incorrect impression that the route continues forwards, and not down a path to the left (in front of the pole).  This also highlights a problem with using existing poles and structures, since the path “left” is about 2 metres in front of this pole, so even if the arrow had not been removed it would still be ambiguous.

In the following photograph you can see a round sign on the right with a crossed-out picture of a bicyle that indicates that no cycling is allowed (this is a private industrial/trading estate).


The following is a close-up of the yellow sign from the photograph above, shows again a “no cycling” notice just above the NCN Route 21 sign. Bizarre:


Someone else rode the entire London-Paris route and called it the route which keeps getting you lost. His article is worth a read, and he highlights some of the problems that I have mentioned:

The biggest blot on the landscape, on either side of the Channel, is Surrey - or more accurately, the first 20km (12 miles) south of the M25.

Oddly, the British authorities have chosen here the most built-up route possible. Does anyone actually enjoy cycling through Redhill, Horley and Crawley? I didn’t.

Could anyone have imagined that a route called the Avenue Verte would pass through the middle of Gatwick Airport - under the bridge linking Gatwick railway station with the South terminal, and the monorail ferrying passengers from one terminal to the other? It does.

Posted by bigblue on 14/05/2012 at 08:37 AM
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