Cycling on the A5

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Niborf
Posts: 2
Joined: 21 Jul 2009, 9:46am

Cycling on the A5

Postby Niborf » 21 Jul 2009, 10:09am

I'm cycling from Woburn (Beds) to Skipton (N Yorks) next week on a 2/3 day trip. The first section takes me approx 60mls along the A5 in a northerly direction. Does anyone have experience of cycling along the A5? I was wondering if it was wide enough to cycle without being too close to cars & trucks? I prefer a higher average speed over scenic view.

MartinBrice
Posts: 454
Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 9:57am

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby MartinBrice » 22 Jul 2009, 9:42am

I suggest you either do the A5 bit at 5am of avoid it entirely.

User avatar
CJ
Posts: 3118
Joined: 15 Jan 2007, 9:55pm

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby CJ » 22 Jul 2009, 2:54pm

The M1/M45 goes pretty much the same way and has a good, paved hard shoulder, wide enough to park a juggernaut. So you can count on being a whole lot further from the cars and trucks than on the A5, which doesn't have any shoulders as such, at all.

Now could somebody please explain why those cars and trucks are allowed to go just as fast on the A5, and why we are not allowed to cycle instead in the relative safety provided on the shoulders of motorways? I've been trying to explain this to a visitor from Mars and he just doesn't get it. :?
Chris Juden
One lady owner, never raced or jumped.

User avatar
DaveP
Posts: 3333
Joined: 9 Mar 2007, 4:20pm
Location: W Mids

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby DaveP » 22 Jul 2009, 11:29pm

Err, This am. I was hammering along the A38M (Aston Expressway) and approaching the junction with the M6 when I noticed a cyclist wobbling along the hard shoulder, trying to look over his shoulder to time his dash across both M6 bound lanes to the relative tranquility of the Gravelly Hill exit. At least, I hope thats what he was about to do :shock: These elderly Oriental gents can be so inscrutable...
Nice to realise, in retrospect, that he was quite safe :lol:

I have seen cyclists on the A5 N of Milton Keynes but I doubt it could be a pleasurable experience. IMO its the sort of road where you might cautiously use a few miles if you cant find an alternative but 60 miles of it could make an old man of you... :lol: I think the best I could say of it is that there aren't any of those big junctions where cyclists are instructed to leave and rejoin. The leafy stretches often feature fast traffic and where it passes through minor towns its essential narrowness becomes all too apparent.
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully... That hasn't changed!

Dudley Manlove
Posts: 249
Joined: 18 Jun 2009, 10:41am

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby Dudley Manlove » 23 Jul 2009, 8:53am

Not too relevant, but offloading anyhow. It's actually not too bad right at the London end, say S of St Albans, where most of the heavy traffic takes other routes. Makes a good route for getting into London and takes you right into the centre without much hassle. I've no experience of the middle section. The Welsh end is horrible being an arterial route - I had my scariest moment on the road when a mobile home passed to close, stripped the panniers of the right of the bike and sent me flying into a garage forecourt (and didn't bother to stop).

DougR
Posts: 49
Joined: 9 Jul 2009, 12:21pm
Location: Expat Scot in South Wales

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby DougR » 23 Jul 2009, 11:16am

Niborf wrote:I'm cycling from Woburn (Beds) to Skipton (N Yorks) next week on a 2/3 day trip. The first section takes me approx 60mls along the A5 in a northerly direction. Does anyone have experience of cycling along the A5? I was wondering if it was wide enough to cycle without being too close to cars & trucks? I prefer a higher average speed over scenic view.


The A5 north of MK and outside of rush hour is no worse than the Woburn to Bedford road - unless the M1 gets fouled, in which case the A5 is used by all and sundry as the alternative M1.

However - inside MK is a whole different story - there are two A5s and in one places three.

The straight line road is the Old Roman road "Watling Street" and is an MK "grid road" - which means high speed roundabouts, fast competitive traffic and hills - I used to commute along this and its not nice - don't touch it in the dark.

The modern road signposted A5 is a fast dual carriageway with grade separated junctions and used as though M-way - I have never heard of a minor injury on this strip of road.

drossall
Posts: 5131
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 10:01pm
Location: North Hertfordshire

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby drossall » 26 Jul 2009, 2:48pm

I did it a few years ago from Crick to Staffordshire. Didn't enjoy it, and I am confident on busy roads. I'd look for an alternative next time.

Of course, enjoyment and safety are not always the same thing. Sometimes, I reckon, you can feel safer whilst being at more risk.

Niborf
Posts: 2
Joined: 21 Jul 2009, 9:46am

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby Niborf » 10 Aug 2009, 3:34pm

Hi,

Just like to say a big thanks for all your input re the A5 - most notably from MartinBrice. I have now completed the trip and am thankfully alive to tell the tale. As I had 233 miles to cover in 2 days (Battersea, London to Ilkley, N.Yorks), I decided I had no option but to go for the A5, since I figured that A roads are all going to be much of a muchness and I didn't much fancy the idea of going through Northampton and Leicester as an alternative. Having tested out the first section of the A5 (J9, MI to Hockliffe) the day before I was ready to accept the challenge. I decided to take Martin's advice and started out at 7am about 3 miles due south of Milton Keynes and made it to Hinckley in approx 4 hours (60miles). It's certainly wasn't the scariest part of the trip, and I was really pleased to have broken the back of that day's journey by midday. I gave me the confidence to go further than I expected that day, clocking up a total of 120 miles that day to get as far as Buxton, Derbyshire (I was aiming for Ashbourne). I'm glad I did as the next day the conditions were not so good and the cycling much harder. So if anyone wants a detailed analysis on the first section of the A5 to Hinckley - I'm your man!

User avatar
Si
Moderator
Posts: 15184
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 7:37pm

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby Si » 10 Aug 2009, 5:26pm

Sorry, I know it's a bit late, but I use bits of it between Chasewater and Hinckley (as do many time trialists of a Sunday morning), and again north of Wolves.

It's often busy and the traffic can go along at a fair whack. I wouldn't call it pleasurable but at the same time I wouldn't say that it was overly dangerous for the most part. The bit between Hints and Weeford is very nice now that they have bypassed it with a new dual carriageway (that seems to shadow the M6Toll - shows how successful that was then). The worst part is the multi-lane roundabouts - a lot of the traffic on them doesn't know where it's going and can be want to suddenly change lane without warning or looking.

gilesjuk
Posts: 3270
Joined: 17 Mar 2008, 10:10pm

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby gilesjuk » 12 Aug 2009, 1:59pm

The A5 is a truckers favourite. The section I'm most familiar with is between Milton Keynes up to Weston Park in Staffordshire.

Almost all of the way it is two lanes wide, there are a few overtaking lanes in places. It's pretty darn busy and has fast traffic flow.

gilesjuk
Posts: 3270
Joined: 17 Mar 2008, 10:10pm

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby gilesjuk » 12 Aug 2009, 2:02pm

CJ wrote: Now could somebody please explain why those cars and trucks are allowed to go just as fast on the A5, and why we are not allowed to cycle instead in the relative safety provided on the shoulders of motorways? I've been trying to explain this to a visitor from Mars and he just doesn't get it. :?


If they legalised cycling on the hard shoulder would you do it?

Anyway, some trucks are limited to a lower speed on A roads, but usually by the company not by law.

DougR
Posts: 49
Joined: 9 Jul 2009, 12:21pm
Location: Expat Scot in South Wales

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby DougR » 12 Aug 2009, 9:58pm

CJ wrote:.....

Now could somebody please explain why those cars and trucks are allowed to go just as fast on the A5, and why we are not allowed to cycle instead in the relative safety provided on the shoulders of motorways? I've been trying to explain this to a visitor from Mars and he just doesn't get it. :?


Tell your martian buddy that a stationary vehicle on the hard shoulder of a Brit motorway has a 50% chance of being involved in an accident inside an hour.

M.K. (J14) to Northampton (J15) is seventeen miles - the question is; Do you feel lucky? - well do ya, punk?

Seriously, if you stop on the hard shoulder you will get a police escort real fast - their normal approach is to stop on the upstream side of the victim and turn on all the flashing lights they have - then to try to clear the victim from the road ASAP - those guys don't like fatal accidents any more than the rest of us do.

cheadle hulme
Posts: 21
Joined: 13 Sep 2008, 10:43pm

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby cheadle hulme » 12 Aug 2009, 10:52pm

DougR wrote:Tell your martian buddy that a stationary vehicle on the hard shoulder of a Brit motorway has a 50% chance of being involved in an accident inside an hour.


My martian buddy finds this hard to believe and asks if you have any evidence for the rate you quote? :D

French autoroutes and N roads have shoulders, but they're a lot more casual about it, often on N roads, they can be used as a nice 1m cycle lane. Sometimes they're even marked as a cycle lane!!

Although I wouldn't fancy cycling up the M6 shoulder, I think we're a bit over the top in terms of the danger levels - willing to be convinced otherwise with accident stats though....

DougR
Posts: 49
Joined: 9 Jul 2009, 12:21pm
Location: Expat Scot in South Wales

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby DougR » 13 Aug 2009, 5:23am

cheadle hulme wrote:
DougR wrote:Tell your martian buddy that a stationary vehicle on the hard shoulder of a Brit motorway has a 50% chance of being involved in an accident inside an hour.


My martian buddy finds this hard to believe and asks if you have any evidence for the rate you quote? :D
...
Although I wouldn't fancy cycling up the M6 shoulder, I think we're a bit over the top in terms of the danger levels - willing to be convinced otherwise with accident stats though....


Source was a police road safety lecture for BP in the early nineties - but that wasn't his best stat.

What is the fastest moving thing on a busy UK Motorway? - Answer a tailback - in heavy traffic the leading edge of the compression travels upstream at three miles a miles a minute - 180 mph.

bilban
Posts: 1
Joined: 15 Mar 2019, 8:23pm

Re: Cycling on the A5

Postby bilban » 15 Mar 2019, 8:31pm

This just reminded me, I cycled a short stretch, from Long Buckby to near to just past Weedon Bec, with another person late/afternoon/dusk. And it was utterly utterly horrible. This was about 15 years back. When there are two trucks coming from opposing directions, you are pretty much stuffed. Avoid if at all possible.

I agree this is a popular back route, I had assumed traffic would be using the M1, and was amazed at the quantity of freight on it. Heart was in the back of my mouth for most of the journey, and I regret putting another cyclist in danger on that day.