Author Topic: ACA Maps vs. Google Maps - Southern Tier  (Read 289 times)

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Offline henry_jackson

ACA Maps vs. Google Maps - Southern Tier
« on: August 22, 2015, 10:53:43 am »
In planning my upcoming November-December Southern Tier, the Google Maps suggested bike route is about 700 miles shorter. An enticing number because my timeline is (unfortunately) about 5 weeks.

It seems the main deviation is in Texas where the Google route heads north and the ACA route heads south, before reconnecting in LA.

My understanding is ACA routes are significantly longer than necessary in order to include tourist attractions. As much as I would love to take my time, it's not a perfect world.

What do you guys think?

Offline aggie

Re: ACA Maps vs. Google Maps - Southern Tier
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2015, 02:19:47 pm »
ACA staff in previous posts have indicated their criteria.  Unless I'm mistaken tourist sites play little role in route selection.  A major factor is finding roads that are cycle friendly.  Not sure what the Google route is but having ridden the ACA route in Texas I can state that the roads are generally low to moderate traffic.  Very few many tourist sites.  As with any route there are always interesting places to stop. 

I rode hwy 190 in La and it was a miserable experience.  High traffic and rough road.

Offline indyfabz

Re: ACA Maps vs. Google Maps - Southern Tier
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2015, 10:10:57 am »
Have you vetted the Google choice? Sometimes the bike directions option will route you on unpaved roads or "roads" that are not really roads at all.  The ACA maps also take into account the availability and frequency of services.

Offline bobbys beard

Re: ACA Maps vs. Google Maps - Southern Tier
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2015, 05:13:58 am »
Google maps is great for manually planning a route, especially through towns and cities, but I wouldn't trust its directions, especially on a bike. I've tried it locally and the directions were pretty poor and hard to follow.

Ive used ACA maps on two routes and sight seeing doesn't appear to be a big factor. Sometimes they have an alternative route to a city, or somewhere such as the Gila cliffs, but those are optional and rejoin with the original route.

Offline staehpj1

Re: ACA Maps vs. Google Maps - Southern Tier
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2015, 07:45:33 am »
I did the ST using ACA ST maps, but deviated from them where it made sense to me.  I found that I reduced the distance a good bit and didn't feel like I missed much.  Oddly enough I met as many or more other riders when I was off of the ACA route as when I was on it.

Personally in the West, I don't mind riding the interstate more than the ACA suggested.  For as far as it goes I'd be inclined to ride US 90 much of the way.  I made most of the route decisions on the road as I went and would do the same again.

You will find that the ST is a good route for knocking out long mileage days, so 5 weeks isn't a slam dunk, but is possible.  I went W-E and stopped in Pensacola, but if I had gone all the way to St Augustine, it would have taken me 5-1/2 weeks or just a bit less. To calibrate that, I was 61 and not especially that fit starting out.  I do tend to like to do long days and not take rest days though.  I think that if I started out in real good riding for and wanted to I could finish in 5 weeks using mostly the ACA ST.

I went in Feb.-Mar. so the daylight hours were longer for me.  Personally I think that is a better time to go if your schedule is flexible.  I also went W-E.  I think the W-E direction makes sense if you think you may run out of time because it is pretty easy to cut the route shorter without missing much.  Also if you make it to the gulf, it is a coast to coast trip even if you stop there.  That worked out well for me because I have a daughter on the Florida pan handle, so it was nice to finish there.

BTW, I am now living in Tallahassee, so if you need a place to spend a night there look me up.

Offline PeteJack

Re: ACA Maps vs. Google Maps - Southern Tier
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2015, 08:24:12 am »
Google Maps bike routes have come a long way. When they first came out they had a tendency to miss out bike paths but just the other day I used Google Maps to cross Seattle and it took me on handy back streets I didn't know existed and I've lived here for 40 years. However I agree with previous respondants GM will tend to take you on iffy roads (unpaved, much traffic) especially in places where there are a lot of them like Texas. Doing the Northern Tier using the ACA map there's a stretch in MT on a minor road that parallels I90, some guys who were riding at the same time as me took I90 with all its noise and traffic thinking it was quicker. I took the minor road and saw one car in 11 miles of paved road (I did have to brake for cows) in about the same time. I'm guessing GM would have picked I90 because it was slightly shorter but I can't say for sure. So use it with care.

FWIW I find Apple Maps dreadful for cycling compared to GM. They don't even have a cycling option, just pedestrian.

Offline staehpj1

Re: ACA Maps vs. Google Maps - Southern Tier
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2015, 09:01:16 am »
When they first came out they had a tendency to miss out bike paths

I chuckled a bit at that.  I guess our preferences differ.  My biggest complaint with Google Maps bike directions was that they went out of their way to put you on bike paths when a nice short regular road route was available.

If using Google Maps I tend to look at bike directions, regular car directions, and car (avoid highways) directions and then pick one or mix and match.

I have found that the quality of bike paths varies widely.  In places they can be very nice, but they can also be indirect and have poor surfaces.  In a few bike friendly cities they can be nice and the ones near Breckenridge were pretty nice. That said I more often avoid them than seek them out.

Offline PeteJack

Re: ACA Maps vs. Google Maps - Southern Tier
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2015, 09:13:42 am »
Good point stae. Bike paths around the PNW where I live are usually pretty good in my experience. I met some grim ones in MA but perhaps my view was jaundiced by the crappy weather. There was one on the TA, I can't remember where, that was about 100 yards long and finished in a field, literally a complete waste of time.

Offline staehpj1

Re: ACA Maps vs. Google Maps - Southern Tier
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2015, 09:30:00 am »
Good point stae. Bike paths around the PNW where I live are usually pretty good in my experience. I met some grim ones in MA but perhaps my view was jaundiced by the crappy weather. There was one on the TA, I can't remember where, that was about 100 yards long and finished in a field, literally a complete waste of time.
Yeah, having lived in the Mid Atlantic US for most of my life I found the bikes friendliness of the PNW pretty awesome.  Nice bike lanes, traffic lights that were bike aware, and street sweepers that actually cleaned bike lanes blew our minds because we had never seen anything like that before.

I recall a bike path on the TA near Alma Colorado that was on a long downhill and had the seams all kicked up 3-4" making it terrible to ride.  We quickly decided to leave the bike path and ride the road.

Offline henry_jackson

Re: ACA Maps vs. Google Maps - Southern Tier
« Reply #9 on: Today at 09:50:27 pm »
Thanks for the insight! The trip is being postponed (my wife's job was downsized) but will hopefully happen this spring.