Yes, the 'Paved' option on the advanced version of the Make Me a Route feature does attempt to generate routes that avoid unpaved surfaces. However, I'm afraid it is still not a substitute for local knowledge, as the accuracy of the routing data can never be 100%, so I would always advise reviewing any automatically generated routes for suitability before using them.
The Ad-Free membership is primarily for people who want to use the site ad-free. The only reason the advanced version of the Make Me a Route feature is available only to Ad-Free members is due to the high costs of providing this feature.
I noticed there is a 'Paved only' option if I upgrade my account, does this not do exactly what I'm looking for?.
Thanks Andrew. Sadly the data isn't really available to be able to make this 100% reliable, so I think whatever solution we come up with you would always need to review the suitability of the route before using it.
I would also love this feature, I plotted a route recently for a Road ride and it tried to take me down canal paths and bridleways which really werent suitable for a Road bike. Being able to automatically create a circular route by entering a distance and using the Via point option is superb and the only site I have come across that can do this, however, not being able to filter out things like canal paths/bridleways means in future I will have to check the whole of the route on the map before downloading it to my GPS computer. This last step kind of spoils what would be a perfect route generation tool.
Thanks for the suggestions Matt - I appreciate your advice and your kind feedback about the site. Unfortunately any solution has a cost, even if we use free OSM data and host it ourselves, as this we would still involve additional storage, backup and maintenance costs and we would also need to develop our own routing engine to use with the data. Sadly we don't have the resources to do this (or skills to be honest), so we would need to use a thrid-party routing service, which also has a cost.
You mentioned that CycleStreets has a feature to understand how hills affect journey times. Just so you know, you can also do this on plotaroute.com - our Route Timer feature estimates the time to complete a route and also to reach points along it. You can toggle the "Adjust for hills" option to see what difference the hills make.
The raw data from OpenStreetMap should be available for free, though it is a bit of work to automate importing regular updates. But, if you had that data then, in theory, if someone said "no unpaved roads", you could just automatically add "not via this road" for all known unpaved roads (within some plausible distance of the route) when asking the external service to do the routing. And if the data turns out to be wrong, then corrections can be sent back to OSM.
In the longer run, if you had the OpenStreetMap data you could perhaps look at doing the routing yourself, eg as the CycleStreets folks do. It would give you a lot more control over how the routing works. CycleStreets publish a fair bit of info about how they've solved various problems -- see https://www.cyclestreets.net/journey/help/howitworks/ and linked pages -- so a lot of the "how to" is in the public domain. For A-to-B journeys the CycleStreets site has a lot of neat features, including understanding how hills affect journey time. What it lacks is support for circular routes, editing routes etc, which is where plotaroute is excellent (and far better than any other site I've used).
Yes, it does seem like this would be popular. I've been looking into it and I don't think that there is a totally reliable data source for this though. It is available through one of the OpenStreetMap routing services we use but at a cost and as it's open source data it may not always be correct. What do people feel - would you rather have a paved path checker that is right most of the time or not at all if it is not 100% reliable? Also, depending on costs we may have to make this available as a premium feature or implement in a way that limits its use.
Don't know who suggested this, but I agree it's a good idea. I wonder if you might find better data about this (for some countries at least) from Open Street Map?
A potential follow-on feature would be for users to be able to report mapping errors/updates (eg road claimed as paved isn't).