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I want to go for a short cycle tour but I want to avoid main roads. Is there an app for that?

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    See also: bicycles.stackexchange.com – CMaster May 16 '16 at 9:22
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    You will have to mention at least country and if a big one, also the area. If you are in the USA you will have no use for a Dutch one, nor for one that only does the other end of the country. – Willeke May 16 '16 at 9:27
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    @cmaster Software is deemed off-topic for bicycles.stackexchange.com sorry. However it is on topic at softwarerecs.stackexchange.com – Criggie May 16 '16 at 11:22
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    Maybe not what you're looking for but Google Maps, with the cycle route option, avoids the biggest roads and prefers designated cycle routes when available. Sometimes it does put you on a main road. However, in the UK I'd often rather ride on a major road then a minor road with no visibility due to hedgerows. – user35890 May 16 '16 at 11:31
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    MapsWithMe (now called Maps.me) will do the job nicely. – AStopher May 17 '16 at 11:43
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For UK based routes (this is where I think you are, judging by your profile) you can use CycleStreets. It’s also available as an app on most phone platforms (Apple, Android, Windows Phone). Input your start and end points then when you get a route select the "Quietest Route" tab. That should give you either cycle paths or quieter roads.

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I've always quite liked http://cycle.travel - UK oriented but the map interface is OpenStreetMap based so can handle overseas as well. Website not an app, but may still be useful.

It defaults to low-traffic-roads (calculated from known traffic data, not simply road classification) and includes a very useful height mapper display, so you can tweak a proposed route to avoid steep hills.

It also offers randomly generated "short tours" - given a defined start point and distance, it will try to come up with possible cycle routes in the local area. For example, "twenty miles round trip to something near Cambridge", or "a hotel fifty miles from Leeds with a route there and back". Quite a clever idea, IMO, though I've not tested any of them out...

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    Thanks for the mention! (I'm the creator of cycle.travel.) One detail that might be relevant to the OP's question is that (in the UK and US) cycle.travel uses real motor traffic data, rather than simply assuming busy roads from the class of road. So, for example, if you ask for a route from Oldham to Leeds it'll follow a surprisingly quiet A road across the Pennines; but in other places it steers clear of some very busy B roads. – Richard Fairhurst May 17 '16 at 14:42
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    Annoyingly it defaults to using miles for distances. – vclaw May 18 '16 at 11:44
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    @vclaw It defaults to miles in the UK and US, kilometres in the EU: but you can change that from your user page if you're logged in. (Don't get me started on the US preference for elevation in feet...!) – Richard Fairhurst May 18 '16 at 17:47
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I use Strava for ride route mapping, and it works okay. Some local knowledge helps avoid possible pitfalls.

It doesn't specifically avoid main roads, but the "use popularity" switch will favour roads where cyclists go. You can also "minimise elevation" if you would rather go around than over something.

Example - here's our planned lunchtime route at work tomorrow. https://www.strava.com/routes/4970649

Note: This question would be better asked on https://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/ where it would be on topic. Software is deemed off-topic for https://bicycles.stackexchange.com/

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Take a look at GPSies, people share routes there and you can find one fitting your criteria. You may also like to combine it with OpenStreetMap.org and Wikimapia.org to select the most appropriate route.

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Google Maps has that capability. It is probably not the greatest in the world, but free, and many people have it anyway.

After you have chosen you target and directions as usual, you can switch to different locomotion modes; car is on the very left (and the default), but there is also public transportation, pedestrian, bicycle, and plane.

in addition you should probably choose the option 'avoid main roads'

My experience is that it is pretty good (good enough for me, I use it)

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I've used Google Maps for cycling in the US. So far it's been great - it gives you cycling roads and avoids the more "dangerous" roads, gives you a small graph of the hills you need to go through, works on the phone/watch etc. Hope that helps!

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    Google maps is very poor for giving cycle routes in England. I don't know about elsewhere. But if you try to get across London (where I work) or in the countryside round Cambridge, it has no sense at all of traffic danger and will happily route you down dangerous and unpleasant main roads. Cyclestreets is incomparably better. I have not tried Cycle travel (site wont' load this morning) – Andrew Brown May 20 '16 at 7:33
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TomTom (App, Hardware Devices) have the capability to choose "winding road". This is mostly aimed ad motorcyclists, avoids busy roads and tries to choose "interesting" roads instead. I would assume that these routes are also better suited than normal car navigation.

Also choosing "shortest route" on navigation systems gets one usually away from big roads.It also seems to be a pretty reliable way to meet mapping errors ... which shouldn't be a problem on a bike most of the time.

Specific "cycling modes" so far semm only work in well mapped urban areas of the western world.

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