Can I Use this Old Map?

Apr 17, 2014

We regularly get a variation of the question, "can I use my old [insert name of route] map on tour this year?" The answer: it depends. There are many factors that go into making this decision. Things to bear in mind as you consider using older maps:

How old is "old"?

We post the addenda for three editions of each map including the current one. This means we virtually support maps approximately 6-8 years old. Unless there has been a major reroute, these addenda items should be enough to comfortably navigate your way with an older map.

Use a permanent marker to call out changes on your map from the addenda to prevent the need to carry a paper printout of the changes. It is our recommendation that if there is no longer an addenda available online for a map, a new map should be purchased.

Has there been a major reroute due to safety issues?

If so, it is highly recommended you purchase new maps. Check the online addenda for notices about major reroutes or contact the Routes & Mapping department to confirm.

How dependent will you be on the services listed on the map?

If you are traveling completely self-supported it will be important to be comfortable relying on the information found in the Service Directory. The older the map, the less reliable this resource is. On the other hand, if you are traveling with a support vehicle, maybe this information is less important to you.

How many urban areas does the route pass through?

Though we tend to avoid large cities when choosing our routes, invariably, we do have routes with major urban areas. Urban sprawl is a pattern found across the country in these larger locales. Thankfully, these growth spurts are sometimes accompanied by improved bicycling facilities. We take advantage of these improvements as much as possible and make changes to routes accordingly.

Route changes rarely show up in the addenda.

When we update a map we will regularly move the route to a different road for a few miles or longer. New bicycling specific facilities are popping up all the time and we like to use them when it makes sense. Unless the old route is unrideable, these changes will not be reflected on the addenda.

Riding conditions may have changed.

The information in the Using This Map and Riding Conditions section may have changes making that information unnecessary while new hazards may have cropped up.

View older maps as reference materials or planning guides rather than definitive turn-by-turn guides. You will want to supplement them by checking with state bicycle resources for more current information on the best routing, especially in urban areas. Contact information and websites can be found at the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information State Resources page.

If you are traveling with another person or persons, consider buying one new set of maps and using the older set as a backup. Mark changes as needed on the older maps so more people in your group can carry route information with them.

And in spite of the best efforts of cartographers the world over, all maps are dated the instant they are published so none of them are as current as users might like them to be. The choice is up to you, weigh the pros and cons, pack your bags and pedal on down the road. Adventure is ahead regardless.

GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.

Comments

Jim Greer

I have my Eastbounder maps from '76 - I assume they would be considered "dated."

April 17, 2014, 9:42 AM
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