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How accurate are ACA maps?

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How accurate are ACA maps?

Old 05-23-13, 07:52 PM
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How accurate are ACA maps?

I was spot checking a local area of map 4 of the Atlantic route and noticed some descrepencies with the written instructions. Looked like it might be hard to follow the instructions. Is this typical of ACA maps or an isolated occurrence? How confident should a novice rider be?

Last edited by Fullcount; 05-23-13 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 05-23-13, 08:38 PM
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I'm sure there are occasional mistakes, but my experience with the maps on a few different routes has been good. They post corrections/updates online I believe, so check there before heading out.
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Old 05-23-13, 10:24 PM
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ACA maps are following their track and not much off the route..

USGS maps are better but if not at a Hiking pace you ride off the edge pretty Quickly.


DeLorme , books by state are good, there is a tablet/notebook App no doubt..


I liked Ordinance Survey maps, but they were about another country..

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Old 05-23-13, 10:27 PM
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I have the ACA map for the northern tier and it's not bad, but I supplement it with Google maps if I'm following the ACA route for where I want to go. Google allows you to sort directions by mode of travel and bike is one of their modes. So whenever I want to go somewhere I take a print out of the directions and print out of any area I need to zoom in on for more detail; but I use Google exclusively when the ACA map cannot be used for the area I'm going. Google map is also being updated all the time but it has a lot of bike paths and lanes across the US marked out. Google does not have off road paths that I know of marked.

Google is easy to use simply click on directions, put in where your starting from in the A column then enter where you want to go in the B column. You can also click on any road on the map you want to start from and click on any road where you want to stop. Google will try it's best to route you on a designated bike path or lane, if it doesn't or you know of one it's bypassing you can drag your route to that area and it will recalculate a new direction. You just need to play it with. Google lacks specifics like camp grounds, bike shops etc, but if you know what route your taking you can preview the are before you go and find places like that and then either mark the location on the map via a pen or have your mouse pointer activate that spot on the map. Like I said just play with it.
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Old 05-24-13, 05:04 AM
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ACA will tell you to check their "addendum" page for updates. Someone is always finding a route change, bike shop /motel closed renamed etc.
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Old 05-24-13, 06:22 AM
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My one experience with ACA maps was very good, on the Northern Tier Route. Over 4400 miles, I mailed in two suggestions to help with minor route problems, and one of those was at the end of a long day for me and was partly my fault. They supply stamped postcards for that purpose and they apparently get used. Definitely check on-line for addenda.

Getting off route is part of any trip of that nature, I think, and part of the fun sometimes. There's no such thing as perfect.

I found just enough detail to be able to take detours when needed (road or bridge closed, for example). But I would also recommend carrying a state road map for larger detours, or if you need to bail out to a large city. Or an electronic device if you're inclined that way.

Once I met a local cyclist and he wanted to give me a better route than the ACA route. We got my map out, started looking at it, and he said, "Oh good, they have that way on the map now." So there's someone at ACA paying attention to what cyclists say.

Overall they were excellent and well worth the money, if you like to follow someone else's route. Just the hostels and free camping shown were worth paying for the maps.
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Old 05-24-13, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by bktourer1 View Post
ACA will tell you to check their "addendum" page for updates. Someone is always finding a route change, bike shop /motel closed renamed etc.
+1. Sometimes mistakes are made and the addenda correct them.

I managed to do the entire Northern Tier and the Atlantic Coast route down to Philly without much trouble.

Even as a novice you should be prepared to deal with route variations. Road construction, storms, etc., can require detours that you might have to figure out on your own.
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Old 05-24-13, 07:38 AM
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Any mapping system you use is never 100%, even your car's GPS system is flawed, so to expect ACA to be any different is just nuts. Like I said before I think ACA is very useful but I don't rely on it 100% nor expect it to be correct. Knowing that I think it's wise to have a secondary printed map like Google of the route you want to take, and even then with two maps there will still be errors.

Back when I use to do some credit card tours with some friends and before ACA and Google Maps came along with the cycling routing feature I use to go to my AAA office and get those trip packs! I would tell them where I was going and they would make me those flip maps purposely avoiding hwys that bikes couldn't be on, it worked good enough.

And as one poster said, the lack of information is part of the exploring type of fun you can have while cycling. But you do need to get the up to date addenda right before you leave for a trip from ACA.
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Old 05-24-13, 11:41 AM
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I had only two problems following ACA's directions on my TransAm; once in Charlottesville, VA (I kept going west until I found the right road), and once we missed the "unmarked turn" and had to come back after about a quarter mile. (There were locals on the porch waving at us, and we just waved back the first time by.) The turn in Missouri where you were supposed to read the number off the rusted plate on the telephone pole? No problem!

I do recommend you pick up a state road map from the first visitor center after you enter a state; it gives you a bit more perspective and options for alternate routes.
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Old 05-24-13, 02:10 PM
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They are about as good as maps get when it comes to usability. In about 8,000 miles of touring on AC routes I have found a handful of places that went out of business and a couple places that required a bit of head scratching route wise. I consider that pretty good as maps go. As others have mentioned it is a good idea to also pick up state maps as you go.
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Old 05-24-13, 08:31 PM
  #11  
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Thanks everyone. I plan using this map on my first long tour next year. Just saw something in the local area that had me concerned. You have restored my confidence.
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Old 05-25-13, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
... The turn in Missouri where you were supposed to read the number off the rusted plate on the telephone pole? No problem!....
Isn't that between Pittsburg and Girard, Kansas?
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Old 05-27-13, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
I have the ACA map for the northern tier and it's not bad, but I supplement it with Google maps if I'm following the ACA route for where I want to go. Google allows you to sort directions by mode of travel and bike is one of their modes. So whenever I want to go somewhere I take a print out of the directions and print out of any area I need to zoom in on for more detail; but I use Google exclusively when the ACA map cannot be used for the area I'm going. Google map is also being updated all the time but it has a lot of bike paths and lanes across the US marked out. Google does not have off road paths that I know of marked.

Google is easy to use simply click on directions, put in where your starting from in the A column then enter where you want to go in the B column. You can also click on any road on the map you want to start from and click on any road where you want to stop. Google will try it's best to route you on a designated bike path or lane, if it doesn't or you know of one it's bypassing you can drag your route to that area and it will recalculate a new direction. You just need to play it with. Google lacks specifics like camp grounds, bike shops etc, but if you know what route your taking you can preview the are before you go and find places like that and then either mark the location on the map via a pen or have your mouse pointer activate that spot on the map. Like I said just play with it.
This might be of interest - http://tsteven4.qwestoffice.net/
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Old 05-27-13, 11:24 AM
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Here they head you over a hilly street, rather than use a T junction.. that T is Now a Roundabout.
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Old 05-27-13, 05:11 PM
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In Fort Wayne Indiana the Stevens web site still lists Koelinger bicycle shop, that shop has been out of business for 7 or 8 years.
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Old 05-27-13, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
In Fort Wayne Indiana the Stevens web site still lists Koelinger bicycle shop, that shop has been out of business for 7 or 8 years.
Did you find that one quickly, or already know about it? Wonder how many others there are? staehpj1 mentions a few on the ACA maps.
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Old 05-27-13, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Trueblood View Post
Did you find that one quickly, or already know about it? Wonder how many others there are? staehpj1 mentions a few on the ACA maps.
I already knew it was in that ACA map from owning a set. And I forgot to mention because I had to leave that the two Summit City bike shops are first off only one not two, and none of the addresses are correct, the correct address is 3801 Lima Rd, Fort Wayne, IN 46805. That's the largest shop in town but I don't like them. Not sure about the bed places since I live here and would never use that service here. I do know that Pine Haven Motel is not a great place, not sure why that's there maybe because it's cheap? At least it isn't next door to an all night stripper club like the some of the other low cost motels are! LaSalle is a really nice place from $65 to $165 a night depending on how fancy you want the room to be. But I doubt most touring people would want to spend $65 to $165 a night, I'm sure though you could get AAA, Allstate, and senior (AARP) discounts.
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Old 05-28-13, 05:11 AM
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I don't know, i'd think low cost motels and strippers might be amenities to some of us bike tourists. Just saying, and kind of off topic.


On topic, however, knowing maps and studied geography/GIS at university, I think the ACA maps some of the best cycling geared resources available to bike tourists. Wholeheartedly recommend.

A caveat, I've only used them as at home resources to pick the best roads to ride on, but would bring them with in a heartbeat if i were to ride the northern/souther tier, other main routes, or explore their themed tours.
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Old 05-28-13, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post

On topic, however, knowing maps and studied geography/GIS at university, I think the ACA maps some of the best cycling geared resources available to bike tourists. Wholeheartedly recommend.
I agree, I think it's mostly about routing that is highly recommended for cyclist due to road conditions and amenities that are in the area as you travel. The amenities may not always be accurate but at least you know your coming into an area that has something. And really the only time road conditions change is due to construction and that can happen driving a car and happen without foreknowledge. That's life.

But I would rather rely on those maps then a specialized cycling related GPS. I can't figure out why a company that builds a bike GPS has to charge $500 to $600 for it when I can get one for a car for less then $100! Sure they have to use a longer lasting battery but that battery isn't even closely worth another $400 to $500, more like another $25 plus add another $5 to seal it against moisture and you have a bike GPS for under $150. Besides there have been thousands of bicycle tourists that have traveled the world without any GPS, just a map and talking to locals.
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Old 05-28-13, 08:33 AM
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Has anyone tried bike touring based on a AAA Trip Tick? I ordered them up and used them a lot for car trips. They followed the routes I specified and have lots of details on hotels, foods, services, detours, etc. Just curious as I am now getting into bike touring...the AAA format is familar enough to be enticing if they are workable.

Appreciate any insight or experiences.

/K
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Old 05-28-13, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by ksisler View Post
Has anyone tried bike touring based on a AAA Trip Tick? I ordered them up and used them a lot for car trips. They followed the routes I specified and have lots of details on hotels, foods, services, detours, etc. Just curious as I am now getting into bike touring...the AAA format is familar enough to be enticing if they are workable.

Appreciate any insight or experiences.

/K

Years ago I did a triptik through AAA. Basically all I did was walk in give them my AAA card and then told them what I was doing and where I wanted to go. They designed the route to avoid hwys and put me on scenic routes. It worked really well I thought. Those maps to lack info like bike shops but they do list camping areas, and they can mark motels and restaurants. It's been some time since I used it so I can't recall all the details of the way the map was laid out, but the spiral narrow flip style map worked great for use in the handlebar bag. We used AAA a lot when we traveled by car too back in the day, but the routing was different due to using hwys, today by car we just use a GPS.

But today with Google and or ACA you really don't need that for cycling unless you want a supplement for some reason.
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