Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Routes => Topic started by: John Nettles on November 11, 2020, 03:56:06 pm

 
Title: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: John Nettles on November 11, 2020, 03:56:06 pm
This came in the Adventure Cycling Association's November Newsletter:

"Our mapping department is discontinuing some paper maps, since in the past five years demand has increased for our digital maps and decreased for paper copies. We’ve decided to stop reprinting the paper maps on 15 of our lowest-selling map sections. These are the Detroit Alternate Route, the Underground Railroad, the Pittsburgh Spur, the Great Parks South Route, the Tidewater Potomac Heritage Route, the Green Mountains Loop, the Utah Cliffs Loop, the Allegheny Mountains Loop and the Adirondack Park Loop. Once sold out, these paper map sections will no longer be available. All of these will still be available digitally, and continually updated."

I personally think this is a major dis-service.  Unless you are doing a re-route, just print less maps or at the very least, offer them in a pdf format which should be fairly easy I would think.  Some of us old school folks strongly prefer paper.

What do others think and be sure to fill out the poll above?
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: jamawani on November 11, 2020, 04:14:19 pm
There are many place in Utah where you have no cell service.
And even if you have the maps stored, you just might run out of juice.
You don't have to worry about "6% left" with paper maps.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: John Nettles on November 11, 2020, 04:27:45 pm
I added a quick poll to the top of this thread for those interested in completing it.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: John Nelson on November 11, 2020, 05:08:14 pm
I like paper maps, but I'm not sure a PDF would be good enough. I need them on the waterproof paper that the ACA uses. On my next tour, I was planning to get both the paper maps and the digital maps, but that might not be an option because my route is on the to-be-discontinued list. Maybe I should buy my paper maps now.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: John Nettles on November 11, 2020, 05:15:16 pm
You can use Rite in the Rain brand of paper.  It is waterproof and very good.  I use it for my self-created cue sheets.  You can buy it on their website, Amazon, or eBay.  Not cheap but overall not bad considering the option of having your cue sheet ruined by water.

They also have several other waterproof products, including journals, spiral note pads, etc. Good stuff.


Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: jwrushman on November 11, 2020, 05:49:01 pm
For Northern Tier last year, I had three maps - Bicycle Route Navigator, ACA paper maps, and my own route entered in to RideWithGPS.  I used RideWithGPS for its turn-by-turn navigation (even though there weren't many turns in ND and eastern MT!).  Bicycle Route Navigator got little use.  ACA paper was my "bible".  It's what I used as input for RideWithGPS.  It where I started when looking for lodging.  It's what gave me the overview I've where I'd be riding. 

It will be sad for me if ACA discontinues paper.  I guess it's a sign of the times.  I still get real books from the library too.  Luddite and proud!  (Although I really do love me cell phone for many reasons!)

Old Fart
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: zzzz on November 11, 2020, 09:57:31 pm
This feels ridiculous. Not only can your phone run out of juice as previously mentioned, if the sun is bright and there’s no shade around, you can’t even  see the screen.

 And a phone screen is puny, you can’t take in the whole days ride at a glance.

 And (AND!) when you get to the top of a pass and you’re  drenched in sweat, taking the map out of your jersey pocket and putting it in the front is the perfect amount of warmth for the big descent. Try that with a phone!

How much money can ACA possibly be saving w this policy?

Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: staehpj1 on November 12, 2020, 05:59:48 am
This policy is very disappointing.  I am not sure what their demand has been or what the costs are, but they are heading in a direction that I don't like.  I have long been a member, but at some point may rethink my renewal if they continue further in this direction.  I initially thought, it was no big deal if they were cutting out paper for some of the small loops, alternates, and spurs, but then I saw some of what I thought of as major routes (in particular the UGRR).  That made me think this may be a first step in phasing out paper.  I think that may well be the end of my support for them in the form of purchasing maps and probably renewing annual membership.

I am guessing that these are probably hard times for them as they are for many with folks cancelling trips and staying home.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on November 12, 2020, 07:05:12 am

 And (AND!) when you get to the top of a pass and you’re  drenched in sweat, taking the map out of your jersey pocket and putting it in the front is the perfect amount of warmth for the big descent. Try that with a phone!


Heh. During my '99 unsupported ACA Northern Tier group tour I learned early that they make great insulators on descents.  Used one for the first time on Loup Loup Pass.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: BikePacker on November 12, 2020, 07:08:15 am
If the paper maps for those said 15 routes cost more per unit to produce because of lower total units sold then charge a higher price for those specific maps but do not stop production.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: Pat Lamb on November 12, 2020, 09:03:38 am
Maybe I should buy my paper maps now.

One of the reasons I joined was for the discount on the paper maps (of course, that was all they had back then).  Maybe I should buy maps for the routes I'd like to ride "some day" now and let the membership expire -- I certainly have not saved any money overall with my membership.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: George on November 12, 2020, 09:45:02 am
I'd also be very disappointed to see paper maps disappear altogether. Paper is a lot easier to look ahead on, and decide what's available the next day. Although, I certainly welcome the availability of GPS data, since I use my GPS for turn-by-turn.

George Hetrick, Life Member
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: staehpj1 on November 12, 2020, 09:55:15 am
I do not know how well or poorly the ACA are doing in these Covid 19 times.  I am sure the damper the pandemic put on peoples travel has hurt them.  They may be tightening their belt in order to survive and I do want them to survive.  The thing is that I don't see services like paper maps coming back once cut.  Cutting less in demand ones I would have supported, until I saw what the list included.  As I said some of the less in demand alternates and spurs it seemed to make sense.  Maybe my impression of some of the routes on the list is just wrong, but the UGRR and the Great Parks South concern me as a sign that major routes are in danger of being cut.

I have never found much value in their "store" Cyclosource.  I get just enough value out of their magazine (barely) to not request that stop sending it.  I have no interest in going on their guided trips.  If the paper maps go I may start to really wonder why I maintain my membership.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: staehpj1 on November 12, 2020, 10:06:59 am
I'd also be very disappointed to see paper maps disappear altogether. Paper is a lot easier to look ahead on, and decide what's available the next day. Although, I certainly welcome the availability of GPS data, since I use my GPS for turn-by-turn.

George Hetrick, Life Member
While I tend to embrace the technology in most respects, I tend to resist having to maintain power requirements to keep electronics going all day.  I prefer to just turn them off most of or all day.  On tour I find that the majority of the time turn by turn just doesn't really involve that many turns most days.  Some days it may amount to "stay on US 90 for 100 miles".  More often it just involves a few turns.  So while I may turn on the phone to navigate in town now and then it isn't all that often.  It is really helpful for navigating to services in town.

There may be times when battery charging opportunities are frequent and reliable enough that I may turn on the phone all day (with the phone and wifi service off), but on my tours more often that has not been the case.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: GusHauck on November 12, 2020, 10:34:19 am
I concur with much of what has been posted. I like the idea of a PDF (or other printable version) of the map as an option. What concerns me about discontinuing the paper maps is the additional information the paper version has - such as average weather data, points of interest along the way - that is not included in the digital version.

Some friends and I were originally planning to do the Pacific Coast this past summer (COVID casualty) and we found the weather and daylight hours info helpful for planning. Of course, this data is available elsewhere, but the ACA maps makes it more convenient.

Just my opinion
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: staehpj1 on November 12, 2020, 10:56:14 am
Some friends and I were originally planning to do the Pacific Coast this past summer (COVID casualty) and we found the weather and daylight hours info helpful for planning. Of course, this data is available elsewhere, but the ACA maps makes it more convenient.
Using the app I am sure some (most?  all?) of the same info is available.  Can someone who has used the app with the digital maps comment on what the app omits that the paper maps provide?

If you can operate in airplane mode to save battery and have all the info available it might not be as bad as i have imagined.  I'd still much prefer to have paper available though.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: jrobertson on November 12, 2020, 11:47:45 am
John and others here, thank you for your posts and concern about ACA transitioning a few of our routes to digital-only offerings. It was not a decision that we took lightly. We targeted the slowest selling routes in order to minimize the impact on our members and the cycling community at large. At this time we do not anticipate transitioning any of our other map sections to digital-only releases. We are experiencing hard times right now, and with over 100 printed maps to maintain, we simply had to focus our limited time and resources to make sure we could stay on top of the other maps that are more popular and need attention. We strive to provide the most accurate maps that we can, and we see reducing the shelf time of a given map printing as an important aspect of that goal. Creating print maps is a time intensive and expensive endeavor and unfortunately printing very small quantities is not cost effective. While offering a PDF version of a map seems like it would be the ideal compromise, getting to the point of having the PDF of the quality we all know and love requires all of the work that a paper map would, and at that point it would make sense to print the map after putting in that much effort. We also believe it would be a disservice to provide PDF's of the outdated maps as things have changed so much since they were printed that we can't stand behind that routing in perpetuity.

Finally, to your point about reroutes, we have already implemented route changes on the the digital-only sections that would have required a major overhaul on the paper maps, so this compromise allows us to provide the best routing while not incurring the additional time and overhead it would have taken to implement such a change for a route that is only utilized by a few cyclists every year.

This is new territory for Adventure Cycling. I can assure you that we are all print map lovers here in the department and will work to maintain them. We encourage your feedback, understanding, and patience as we navigate this change in our department.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: jrobertson on November 12, 2020, 11:55:35 am
Some friends and I were originally planning to do the Pacific Coast this past summer (COVID casualty) and we found the weather and daylight hours info helpful for planning. Of course, this data is available elsewhere, but the ACA maps makes it more convenient.
Using the app I am sure some (most?  all?) of the same info is available.  Can someone who has used the app with the digital maps comment on what the app omits that the paper maps provide?

If you can operate in airplane mode to save battery and have all the info available it might not be as bad as i have imagined.  I'd still much prefer to have paper available though.

The Bicycle Route Navigator (BRN) app does have an active weather and NOAA hazards layer which gives point forecasts and current weather for stations in close proximity to the route. The BRN app also has the critical riding conditions that appear on the paper maps. All of the same service information is also included within the BRN app sections. The main omissions are the narrative turn-by-turn directions and the field notes. We are working to include these features in future releases of the BRN app as time and resources allow. Turning off your cell radio (airplane mode) is a great way to conserve your battery while still allowing your GPS radio in your phone to function.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: John Nettles on November 12, 2020, 12:03:39 pm
Finally, to your point about reroutes, we have already implemented route changes on the the digital-only sections that would have required a major overhaul on the paper maps, so this compromise allows us to provide the best routing while not incurring the additional time and overhead it would have taken to implement such a change for a route that is only utilized by a few cyclists every year.
So you are saying that every map you can getting rid of has had route changes?  If so, how is this any different than doing the addendum used before the map is reprinted?  Additionally, I thought that ACA starting to use GIS was going to make changes easily so this very excuse would not occur.

If there are changes, why not use the aforementioned "trusted users" to do the actual work for ACA?  Again, at least two highly experienced users have suggested and volunteered to do it but only crickets have responded. 

If there are NO changes, why not do a pdf? Surely, there is very little cost to convert to a pdf.  Or for that matter, what costs are there to keep a map?  As others have mentioned, if the cost exceeds the income, just increase the cost of the map to the user?

ACA over the past several years has steadily drifted away from its primary purpose, i.e. you were primarily a bicycle route creator.  All this other stuff that has been added onto over the years has eroded the true purpose of ACA. 

Sincerely, John
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: jrobertson on November 12, 2020, 01:19:32 pm
Finally, to your point about reroutes, we have already implemented route changes on the the digital-only sections that would have required a major overhaul on the paper maps, so this compromise allows us to provide the best routing while not incurring the additional time and overhead it would have taken to implement such a change for a route that is only utilized by a few cyclists every year.
So you are saying that every map you can getting rid of has had route changes?  If so, how is this any different than doing the addendum used before the map is reprinted?  Additionally, I thought that ACA starting to use GIS was going to make changes easily so this very excuse would not occur.

If there are changes, why not use the aforementioned "trusted users" to do the actual work for ACA?  Again, at least two highly experienced users have suggested and volunteered to do it but only crickets have responded. 

If there are NO changes, why not do a pdf? Surely, there is very little cost to convert to a pdf.  Or for that matter, what costs are there to keep a map?  As others have mentioned, if the cost exceeds the income, just increase the cost of the map to the user?

ACA over the past several years has steadily drifted away from its primary purpose, i.e. you were primarily a bicycle route creator.  All this other stuff that has been added onto over the years has eroded the true purpose of ACA. 

Sincerely, John

John, thank you for your comments. The map sections that we have converted to digital-only so far have had significant route changes. I'm not sure about all of them as they are due for updates in the coming year. The addenda we provide does work to provide updates to changes is services, closures, and very small route changes, but it becomes far more complicated when we actually update a map section. Often the geography itself is a limiting factor when we are updating a print map. A map sheet is 19x25" on many of our routes, map panels are 3.5x6" @ 1:250,000, and they all have to link together with overlaps. If a proposed reroute requires extra panels, we have to determine what can be cut to make room for those panels and how it will all be laid out on the sheet. Sometimes this just isn't possible without creating an additional map section all together. We are pretty good at squeezing things in and making reroutes work, but sometimes the geography itself makes it impossible without creating an entirely new map section. And unless there are 12-15 new panels, then it doesn't make sense to add an entire section.

Creating maps with GIS-driven data is definitely a productivity boost, but going from the data itself to the carefully crafted map panels that you expect on our maps is still a lot of time consuming work. I'm sure you've seen your share of poor maps that have been 'spit out' of a GIS, and how different they are from our route maps. Increasing the cost for the map sections could help, but we commonly get feedback that the current cost is a barrier for some people, so that is a balance we need to reach as well. The real limiting factor is actual staff time. X cartographers x 115 map sections x 52 weeks a year means that we can only address a certain number of map sections in a given year. At this time, those limited hours simply have to be focused on map sections used heavily that are in need of attention. I wish we could implement all of the fantastic routing suggestions that we receive from our members, and we surely do for many of them. I'm sorry that you didn't get feedback about your offer of volunteer work, please reach out to me directly at jrobertson at adventurecycling.org. I'd like to talk with you about that.

Your concern over the direction of ACA is well taken. We do believe that it is important to work comprehensively to improve cycling conditions and to inspire people from all walks of life to experience the transformational power of bicycle travel while still holding true to our commitment to provide maps and routing resources that drive those experiences. I can assure you that this change is limited in scope and we will continue to maintain our maps and routes, both paper and digital, going forward.

Sincerely,
Jamie Robertson
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: TCS on November 12, 2020, 01:34:50 pm
Maybe I should buy my paper maps now.

Perhaps too late.  The ones I checked are already showing 'Out of Stock'.  Gone gone gone.




The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there – Gandalf
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: TCS on November 12, 2020, 01:48:52 pm
"...our lowest-selling map sections. These are...the Underground Railroad...

This surprises me.  This has always appealed to me as a great shoulder season route, chasing the season change north in the spring or south in the fall; trans-USA dipping wheels in the Great Lakes and Gulf.  Of course, it was never marketed that way.

Anyhoo, I see the Section 4 map is sold out so the (paper) mapped route is epic no longer.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: John Nettles on November 12, 2020, 01:51:03 pm
Jamie,
I get that ACA can only do so many updates per year and that certain routes are put on the back burner due to priorities.

I also totally understand how maps are limited to the paper sheet size.  I am amazed how you cram in so much info on such a small place.  I applaud you on that.

One way to reconcile needing more panels due to re-routes for the less popular maps (or any for that matter) is to offer the individual panels as a pdf instead of one big sheet.  Then it does matter if you zig and zag all over God's creation since you are not confined by paper.  Then ACA would not have to spend as  much resources re-creating the entire map sheet; people could print out the revised route maps; and you don't loose maps. 

My frustration is that since the routes are not updated other than the addendum, why not offer them as a pdf of the existing map.  For instance the ROUTE (not services) addendum for the Allegheny Mountains has not been updated since 2018; Utah Cliffs, since 2017; Pittsburgh Spur does appear to have any changes; etc.  If there have been re-routes, why not put them in the addendum?  My point is if the ROUTE has not changed, why not just reproduce the maps or offer them as a pdf until they actually are updated?  Services are never totally up to date due to openings, closings, name changes, etc.

I guess the biggest obstacle for me is to loose the written portions, i.e. the "cue sheet" and the services.  You can get a wide variety of "maps" as you say and the only real time you need them is when transiting a city and you have lots of turns.

Anyway, I have reached out to you as you requested regarding the volunteer work.

John

edit due to typos
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: staehpj1 on November 12, 2020, 05:36:53 pm
ACA over the past several years has steadily drifted away from its primary purpose, i.e. you were primarily a bicycle route creator.  All this other stuff that has been added onto over the years has eroded the true purpose of ACA. 
I agree.  A majority of the things they offer are not of much interest to me.  I do not know if they are good strategically for them or not, but they do not make the ACA more valuable to me.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: aggie on November 12, 2020, 06:42:52 pm
ACA is apparently facing the financial headwinds many non-profits are facing in these most unusual times.  I'm hoping the decision was made only after a thorough analysis of the financial pressures they are facing.  I don't contribute annually as I made a donation for life membership awhile ago and generally not able to contribute additional funds. 

I only use paper maps when I tour and only check google maps at the end of the day to clarify the next days ride if necessary (towns, food, hotels/shelter).  I don't have nor intend to buy a mount for my phone.  Even in airplane mode every time you illuminate the screen to check location it uses power.  Enough times and the battery is good for only 1 day or less. 

I too will miss the paper maps.  I bought the Pittsburg Spur (paper) earlier this year to plan a trip I wanted to do this year.  It definitely helped my planning.  I just can't look at a digital version on my phone or tablet and visualize; either just a days ride or the whole route.  I wish ACA had maps for the other parts of the ride I planned to do.  I bought maps other organization offered of parts of the route but they aren't nearly as easy to use and carry while riding.  They were also more expensive.  I do know in the future I won't be doing a route that only has digital maps so a number of loops have been dropped from my bucket list. 
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: John Nettles on November 12, 2020, 06:53:26 pm
I bought maps other organization offered of parts of the route but they aren't nearly as easy to use and carry while riding.  They were also more expensive.
Out of curiosity, who offers maps of the ACA routes?  I would think there is a possible copyright infringement.  However, maybe they do/will offer maps of the discontinued maps.
John
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: aggie on November 12, 2020, 07:09:19 pm
I should have been clearer.  These weren't maps of ACA routes.  They were for the Ohio to Erie trail, Erie Canal, and the Hudson Valley.  Wish ACA offered maps for these routes.  I also bought the book on the Mississippi River Route a bit earlier as I plan on doing this route in the future.   These maps/books are NOT convenient to use while riding.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: John Nettles on November 12, 2020, 07:26:04 pm
I spoke for quite a while with Jamie today who was quite pleasant and understanding.  Basically he implied it boiled down to there is not enough bodies to keep all the maps up to date since two of the six cartographers have moved on in the past year so something has to give unfortunately so it was the least used routes.

After talking with Jamie, while it is no guarantee, he said ACA would consider doing pdfs of the maps that do not need to be rerouted and not too much work is involved; again due to lack of personnel.  He seemed receptive to that aspect but would not guarantee it.  Certain map sections that require extensive rerouting, like the route UGRR Detroit Alternate, would not be done as other projects are more critical.

I asked him if ACA could produce a PDF of the the written text (cue sheet) and Service Listings that are currently on the maps so that information can be used in case the app/phone/GPS fails for some reason.  While it is also not guaranteed, Jamie seem to be willing to consider that suggestion.  To me, that would greatly alleviate the loss of an actual map as I can always print a map or ask a local if I have the directions which I could not do if my phone dies, lost, etc.  To me, the lack of a cue sheet is the most important aspect the discontinuation of the maps. I personally use a GPS as a back up to the cue sheet so as long as a cue sheet exists, I would be OK with that.  I just have had issues when the electronics have failed me so am extremely reluctant to reply solely on electronics.

We also spoke about the "trusted volunteers".  The reason it has always been the policy to have the data was to always match the maps.  Doesn't quite make sense to me that if you can update part of the package (data) why not do it, sort of like an addendum does, but there it is.  I emphasized there are several highly experienced volunteers who would help if just asked.  Why they do not take advantage of free labor so they can concentrate on more important things is a mystery to me.

Regardless, Jamie said that hopefully within the next year they would be introducing a new version of the ACA bicycle navigator app (or possibly a stand alone website, not sure I completely understood) that will possibly allow for user input of services (hotel permanently closed); comments (really bad dogs here); etc.  That would be nice but of course does not replace a paper map.

In summary, Jamie understands the frustration everybody has but could not promise anything at this time due to budgetary constraints.  He is at least considering doing the PDFs for the discontinued routes that do not have major re-routes going on.

If I have misunderstood any of this, I would encourage Jamie to correct me.  In closing, I firmly believe ACA maps are incredible and thank the ACA staff for their work over the year.

Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: John Nettles on November 12, 2020, 07:28:20 pm
These weren't maps of ACA routes.
Thanks for clearing that up.  I "guess" it would have been nice to have a backup map maker though.   :)

Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: CMajernik on December 29, 2020, 04:15:57 pm
Everyone who is interested:
We have received some paper copies of the Underground Railroad Route (sections 1-5) from a vendor. There is a limited number. If you want to buy paper copies go to https://www.adventurecycling.org/cyclosource-store/search-results/?keywords=underground+rail+road+map

We hadn't realized earlier that this vendor still had the current copies.

Sincerely,
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: John Nettles on December 29, 2020, 06:28:31 pm
Nice Christmas bonus!  Unfortunately, the set sold out quickly but there are the individual sections still available.  Once these sell out, perhaps the map panels can be made into PDFs for a person to print out.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: rmball28 on January 18, 2021, 11:41:09 am
I too would miss paper maps quite a bit and I am disappointed to see that one of the trips I am considering, underground railway, is on the discontinue list.  However I can see the logic of the decision.  Printing and maintaining paper maps must be incredibly time consuming.  Not the physical printing itself but the design, layout,  error checking, and other cartographic tasks are not trivial.  The digital resources are probably far less resource intensive.  I don't know how well the digital maps play with google maps but my plan is to try to try to import into google mymaps and print from there.
Title: Re: ACA Discontinuing some Paper Maps
Post by: Ty0604 on January 25, 2021, 10:14:56 pm
I'm late to the poll but....

YES to Do you think ACA should offer a pdf format for maps they discontinue?