Star-rated traffic-free cycle routes
As you may have noticed, I started grading the route guides I publish, using a star grading system. This grading system is to give an indication of family-friendliness of a route, which is a grading that will also help new adult cyclists, as well as less confident adult cyclists. Some routes will be really nice to cycle, but won’t be family-friendly, and will therefore score quite low.
There are five categories: Safety, Surface, Hilliness, Barriers and Refreshment Stops. How each is graded is explained further below. All grades vary from one star to five stars. With the exception of hilliness, a higher star rating means it’s better. There’s also an overall grading, which is calculated using the combined scores of all four categories.
The safety rating is based on primarily safety from traffic, and similar risks. It is a rating specifically with younger children in mind, so parents can make informed decisions themselves beforehand about cycling any given route. In addition to traffic, routes alongside rivers, or similar risks, will receive a lower safety grading.
The surface grading is determined by the quality of the surface, Smooth tar scores the highest, while deep, soft mud scores the lowest. Potholes, bumps caused by tree roots and general muddiness will all lower the score.
I like hills, and many other cyclists do, too. However, this grading system is designed to help people make informed decisions. I could either give flat routes a 1-star grading, to indicate they’re flat, or I could give them a 5-star grading. I opted for a system where 5 stars indicate a perfectly flat route, while 1 star indicates a very hilly route that’s likely to be unsuitable for especially younger children.
This is an indication of what kind of barriers the route may have. A five-star rating means there are none, while a one-star rating means the route is saturated with the dreaded A-frame barriers. I also take into consideration chicane barriers, bollards and gates, as well as steps. Routes with a rating of 3 stars or less will be impossible for most trike or cargo-bike riders to use.
The refreshment stops grading is not a restaurant grading. Instead, it’s an indication of how many refreshment stops there are along a route.
The overall grading is a simple mathematical calculation: I add the total number of stars a route has for each category, and divide that by five. It’s not a perfect system, but it is functional. You can help by adding comments to published route guides, letting me know if the (for example) the route surface has improved, or deteriorated, or similar changes.