Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby Jules15 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:55 pm

A few years ago, CTC published a yearly handbook that had a list of bed and breakfast establishments throughout the country. Nowadays, this information is provided via a free online directory called Cyclists Welcome. However, CTC is considering the possibility of reproducing in paper format a similar guide that will also include information about local groups in the area. This guide would be available to non-members, as well as CTC members, for a fee. We need to gauge interest in such a project before proceeding so would like to know your thoughts. Would you buy such a publication? Or are you happy with the online guide as it is? Let us know.
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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby robgul » Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:20 pm

Quick answer :

Would I buy it? - No because it will be out-of-date/unreliable the second that it leaves the printer's factory (as was the original incarnation from what I recall)

Happy with the online thing?
- Not really - it's a start but the cost/effort of gathering the information is colossal and it just hasn't happened. IF people contributed with details of places it might just work ... possibly.


AND - a bit of a plug : my E2E website www.cycle-endtoend.org.uk has an embryonic Directory of accommodation (and potentially tea rooms and bike shops) on the (likely) LEJOG/JOGLE routes ... it's stuck at embryonic because contributions from riders are few and far between (and it costs nothing for the accommodation owners)

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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby thirdcrank » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:36 pm

I've mentioned before when Cyclists Welcome has been mentioned that the national tourist boards (Visit England etc) seem to have their own schemes using this name, as well as something similar for walkers and some other groups.

It seems to be more evident in some areas than others. I first noticed it a few years ago when I was planning a tour in the Scottish Borders where the Visit Scotland version seems to be widely publicised. Although it's a while since I looked at it, it did seem to be a lot more detailed than a list of recommendations from cyclists. IIRC there was a specific list of cycle-friendly facilities that would be provided (all this inspected by the tourist board, of course.)

eg secure cycle storage, drying facilities for clothes, packed lunches, flexibility over departure times (to allow riders to get off early.)

It seems surprising that nobody has registered the name, or perhaps they have? It's a recipe for confusion, IMO.
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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby BeeKeeper » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:02 pm

Is any B&B going to turn away customers? I guess what you are looking for are B&Bs (and hotels?) which offer secure storage for bikes but is it really worth the effort to compile and keep up to date year on year when there are already numerous books listing places to stay and all it takes is an e-mail or 'phone call to find out what facilties they can offer to secure a bike? I can see there might be interest, if only for convenience, in places to stay close to established routes, such as coast to coast, LeJog etc., but not covering every square inch of the country.
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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby David_Foster » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:26 am

When I first joined CTC back in the 1970s, the annual printed handbook included an accommodation listing. It was pocket sized and of course targeted B&Bs that welcomed cyclists and could provide facilities such as drying areas and secure bike storage. So far as I recall, it was compiled from members' recommendations. It was provided free to members, and was far more useful than today's online system when touring remote rural areas where mobile signals are poor or non-existent.
It's certainly true that any map or guidebook is out of date long before it leaves the printers (the AA Pub Guide is compiled in Feb/March for the following year!) but on balance the little handbook was a very useful asset.
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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby sammarshall » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:33 am

A printed version is not something I'd encourage CTC to spend its resources on.

Having a directory of B&Bs that understand cyclist's needs is great, but an online version is much more practical for searching and follow-up research, as well as begin more up-to-date.

What I'd really like is more put into making the information usable - for example on a click-able map or as an iPhone/Android app where the data can be held offline when cycling in remote areas.
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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby i-cycle » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:12 am

I'm really not convinced about this. I used to work in tourism and was involved in pulling together several accommodation guides. Even when free for businesses to promote themselves it took ages to get the information together and if you're going to sell it (when the tourist offices often hand them out free either on line or as a leaflet) I think you'd need to at least have some checks that they were really cycle friendly. It will also be out of date as soon as its published. Yellow Pages always reconned that 30% of contact details for businesses listed changed within a year. It would probably not be as bad for what you propose, but is likely to be significant.

An online solution and perhaps where businesses upload their own details is certainly the best option. I'm not sure how you work it now, but it would be worth defining what cycle friendly meant as a condition for having a free entry and removing them if complaints were received. Its also important to include a mechanism so that the businesses know cyclists found them through the site. A discount code would help (e.g. 10% off bike spares, free cup of tea with a £5 spend, 10% off B&B out of season) and may be part of what gives them free registration. This would also have the added benefit of providing membership benefits.

I'm also less than convinced about the merits of including club details. I'm Chair of our club and we're not geared up to accept 'strangers' of unknown competence and ability. If non CTC members they are also not likely to have third party insurance.

For the above reasons I don't think its a good idea. That said I think it is important to get the online service working better and with a lot more businesses registered. If you included details of the Cyclist Welcome link on the back of membership cards it would encourage more member use. You could also add it to flyers promoting the CTC and perhaps in the form of a business card supplies of which you could send to bank shops (as all cyclists will visit one at some time or other).

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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby robgul » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:21 am

Have to say I think the "cyclist friendly" tag is a red herring ... when did you try to stay anywhere that turned you away for having a bike, or didn't have some sort of storage for bikes?

The thing that hacks me off more than anything when searching for accommodation is the sites that simply list every place in the land and deliver useless results (Example : A search for B&B in Taunton produced results for a place in Torquay) - that said there are a few honest B&B search sites that have realistic indexing.

AND for some areas, especially Scotland, where places are remote it's not exactly useful to a cyclist (Example : Helmsdale lists accommodation that's over 30 miles away ... because the postal area is the searched place) - it's always wise to look on some mapping, even something as basic as Google, to check exactly where somewhere really is.

Online is the ONLY solution - and enhance that with a download that can be stored offline for where signals are poor.

Rob
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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby BeeKeeper » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:27 am

The Mighty Google can do it more or less already. Zoom to the area you want to find accomodation in and enter "bed and breakfast" in the search bar. The local B&Bs appear with contact details. Not completely foolproof - I have used this to find campsites in France and the locations are not always accurate - but it is easy to check.

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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby off road » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:41 am

This is a good idea
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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby sammarshall » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:05 pm

Thanks @beekeeper, but that list is all B&Bs isn't it? The value of the directory is filtering those that are bike-friendly
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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby sammarshall » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:09 pm

@robgul - I do find there's a big range of 'welcomes' from B&B's. I've had some places where they thought locking my bike to a rotary drier in the back garden was "secure storage" and owner with white carpets that were appalled when I came back from mountain biking with mud on my clothing.

Conversely, on the Trans Pennine Trail there's a place owned by a Triathlete that hosed the bikes down for us while we showered and offered use of his workshop.

Tip-offs about the 2nd kind of B&B are invaluable in my book.
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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby Campag27 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:17 pm

As the subs have this year increased by £3 I do not want to see any CTC funds (my money) used on such a publication, even if it has to be bought, not given away to members.
As said already google is excellent and a quick email or phone call answer would be more up to date that a book. Unfortunately for some traditionalists the world is online now.
If this happens I may seek 3rd party insurance elsewhere.
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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby Si » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:36 pm

I think that the cyclists' welcome can be very useful - fair enough, you are unlikely to be turned away from anywhere because you have a bike, but many place that I've used are less bike friendly than others. F'rinstance - is the bike to be stored in a safe indoor location or just chained to a drain pipe in a garden? Is there somewhere to eat and buy provisions within a short walk or will I have to jump on the bike and do another ten mile in the dark? Does the place have a drying room for all my damp kit? etc etc

However, I don't believe that the current version of Cyclists' Welcome really has good enough coverage in enough detail and with reliable enough info. Thus I would suggest that the info is improved before any thought of creating a book is considered.

And of course, given the changing nature of cycling today - we also have to wonder if a Cyclists' Welcome via any media will be of interest to enough people - thus I applaud you on starting this thread to get a better idea of what people want, rather than just going ahead and doing the deed!

As for book vs on-line.....personally I'm happy with on-line (although I did like to receive the old book format- ditto the DA News as a booklet). Given the extra cost and the problems of having yet more books that go quickly out of date filling my space (not to mention all the trees being cut down - won't someone please think of the trees) on-line definitely does it for me (as long as it's a good format). I would, though, suggest that it is in the Members Only part of the website and that non-members could pay to gain access to it.
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Re: Cyclists Welcome - a printed guide?

Postby BeeKeeper » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:16 pm

sammarshall wrote:Thanks @beekeeper, but that list is all B&Bs isn't it? The value of the directory is filtering those that are bike-friendly


I agree it is an unfiltered list but how many of these B&Bs have actually had customers turn up on bikes - assuming they don't live along side a recognised route like LeJog? My point was, assuming you are planning ahead, is to contact them, by e-mail ideally unless you have free 'phone calls, and ask if they can secure your bike and are happy for you turn up wet and soggy if the weather is poor. They will be probably be used to people turning up wet and soggy (this being the SW) but may not have thought much about bikes but when asked are perfectly happy to take them - which what I was getting at - many B&Bs may be potentially bike-friendly but hadn't really thought about it until asked.
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