Milton Keynes Redway

OldGreyBeard
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Milton Keynes Redway

Postby OldGreyBeard » 18 Jan 2011, 3:06pm

In the Barriers to Cycling thread http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=45147 people have pointed to the Redway network in Milton Keynes as an example of segregated paths on the continental model that doesn’t increase modal share for cycling.

I think cyclepaths are a good idea but despite living quite near MK I’ve never been on the Redway. So I had some time and took the bike up to MK and armed with my Redway map I set off to see for myself.

The first thing that struck me from the map was the text

“When a Redway crosses a road, the road user has priority over the Redway user. Redway users must give way to the road users”.

Not a good start and hardly on the Dutch model where the cyclepath often has priority or at least a controlled crossing.

I started off from Caldecotte Lake and went alongside H10 (or A4146) and then up to the OU at Walton Hall.

MK is built on a grid of main roads, mostly dual carriageways with 70mph limits that are called H1, H2 etc and V1, V2 etc for horizontal & vertical.

Then I cut across to Walton Lake, took NCR6 back to Caldecotte Lake with a detour to look at a Priority cycle route.
OK, I know it wasn’t that far but it was my first ride apart from to the shops since before Xmas.

So what are my observations?
1. The paths are shared use with pedestrians
2. The paths are lit
3. The paths are in a good state of repair and are for the most part clean of debris
4. Some routes use quiet roads
5. Signage is appalling. If I hadn’t had the map I would have got quite lost. NCR6 is not signposted at all. Those signs that do exist are badly worn.
6. The main dual carriageways all have underpasses, which are lit and not all that threatening but it was daylight
7. I did see other cyclists on them, along with more pedestrians. I saw one roadie on the dual carriageway
8. You have to cycle quite a long way to get anywhere useful
9. They are pleasant to use and I was able to go at my normal speed of 10 to 15mph quite happily
10. The Priority cycle route was not signposted as such and didn't appear to be any differnece. There is a grid of these routs alongside many of the H & V's
11. One path was flooded due to the Ouzel bursting its banks, but there was a reasonable alternative
12. The paths are two way but there is no centre line.
13. The path status i.e. shared use to footpath to minor road often changes without any signage. It would be quite easy to end up cycling on a footpath. In fact NCR6 near Caldecotte Lake is footpath rather than Redway width
14. Despite having to giveway to roads, it actually doesn't happen that often as all the dual cariageways have underpasses.

I think to call these continental style cyclepaths is misleading. They are on the way but fall some way short, in particular the give ways.
By contrast I have also cycled in York which has an impressive modal share. This is a much more compact city and the bit within the walls is not really that permeable to cars in contrast to MK which really is a car city. York also has cyclepaths and a student population which helps.

The conclusion that I have drawn from MK & York is that it is critical to make the urban landscape impermeable to cars but permeable to bikes, buses and pedestrians if you want to get people out of their cars. Oxford has Park & Rides and very expensive city centre parking and it does work at keeping cars out of the centre making for a much more pleasant city.

If I were to improve the Redway I would:
1. Give priority to the Redway at junctions
2. Improve signage

Not much can be done about the density of the city but a Park & Ride and closing the city centre car parks might be worth a look. Mind you, MK Council can get £1.20/hour for parking.

So to say cyclepaths don’t work based on the Redway experience seems to me to be a conclusion too far. The problem is that cars have not been disadvantaged and that MK is built for high speed traffic leading to large distances for many journeys, or at least distances that put people off cycling.
Last edited by OldGreyBeard on 18 Jan 2011, 7:10pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby Fatou » 18 Jan 2011, 6:10pm

I use them every working day for commuting & I think they're great. They could be excellent but not enough people use them to demand more money spent on them.

Why don't people use them more for commuting? Possibly as the grid roads are equally great for shifting people by car from one end of the city to the other?
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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby irc » 18 Jan 2011, 6:24pm

There is doubt as to whether the Redways are any safer than the roads. Perhaps more dangerous.

http://www.cyclecraft.co.uk/digest/2decades.html
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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby OldGreyBeard » 18 Jan 2011, 6:32pm

There is no way I would cycle on 70mph dual carriageways with lots of roundabouts. How would you safely turn right, at night? The speed limit is also often broken. It's horrible enough to drive on. The road I started cycling alongside of (H10) leads to Jn13 of the M1 with no apparent loss of speed.

I think the fact that the path is shared use, has no centreline and that you have to give way at every road crossing doesn't help. Bikes don't seem to keep to the left. I did read somewhere that the bulk of the accidents were collisions between bikes with at one one of them on the wrong side. BUT you would survive any accident on a Redway, perhaps not on a crossing. Would this be true on the high speed road network?

Here it is from CJ:
You really need to go cycling in Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland etc. before you can comment on properly implemented facilities. Okay, they don't satisfy a tiny minority of racers, but for everyone else loves them.

As for increased accidents: the evidence is slim and when you break it down the extra accidents are entirely attributable to wrong-way riding. This mainly happens where cyclepaths are provided on only one side of the road: a common feature in some towns notably Helsinki, where cyclists proceding in the opposite directon to the adjacent traffic stream account for 90% of the collisions. Provide facilities on both sides and the problem is mostly solved - although a few riders will still go the wrong way where expedient. Helsinki now realises its mistake and is engaged in the slow and expensive process of realigning its major roads to make room for a one-way path on both sides instead.

The original study that "proved" riders on roadside cyclepaths had more accidents than those on roads is American. Likewise with that study, if you disagregate the data for wrong-way riders (on both!) the paths come out safer than the roads. This fact is ignored by those whose agenda is to prove that paths are bad, even though the same people are quick to point out the identical danger of wrong-way bicycling on the road - which used to be common practice in the USA!

The lesson for riding on paths in all those countries is that drivers will give way to you at side junctions, assuming you come from the same direction as other traffic they're looking out for. When coming the "wrong" way you've got to make eye-contact first. But not every rider realises that - perhaps especially when they're accustomed to other traffic always yielding.

As for creating an environment in which cyclists are underdogs: I agree that does happen in Britain, but that's a totally separate issue, arising from our might-is-right, victim-blaming culture. Go ride in one of those countries and learn how it feels to be a FIRST CLASS citizen, to have drivers yield the right-of-way to YOU, even when you do not have it!


from http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=30812&p=243634&hilit=redway#p243634

Just goes to show you should be careful with statistics.

To be honest I've ratherlost faith with Mr Franklin, whilst acknowledging that it sis the only safe way to cycle on the roads, it is well nigh on impossible to convince enough people to do it to make a difference. After 35 years of Cyclecraft etc I would have expected a difference although perhaps it did keep the flame alive. Time to move to the next phase perhaps with a new approach?

Returning to the Reways if you add a centre line, add prioirty at road crossings and you would be much closer to the continental approach.

I was expecting the Priority Cycle Routes not to be shared use, but they are so I would add a separate footpath for these as well.

Well, money is no option isn't it? Better value than wideing the M25.
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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby irc » 18 Jan 2011, 8:10pm

OldGreyBeard wrote:There is no way I would cycle on 70mph dual carriageways with lots of roundabouts. How would you safely turn right, at night? The speed limit is also often broken. It's horrible enough to drive on. The road I started cycling alongside of (H10) leads to Jn13 of the M1 with no apparent loss of speed.


I have to afmit I don't know MK but surely the roads are not all 70mph dual carriageways?

In East Kilbride, a Scottish "New Town" designed with many roundabouts and a network of off road paths the roads are mainly 50mph dual carriageway along with 30mph roads and a few faster roads. Other than the 70mph roads the rest are fine to cycle on and more direct and better signed than the paths.

I'm quite prepared to use off road paths where I judge the road to be unsafe but there are few places where it is.

OldGreyBeard wrote:"Just goes to show you should be careful with statistics."


So which of the stats in Franklin's Redways piece do you need to be careful with. The stats he gives for 1988-1997 gives serious and fatal accidents as - Grid Roads - 22, Local Roads - 13, Redways - 24.

IN 1997 the injured cyclists attending MK Hosp were Roads - 105 Redways -178 .

I'm not seeing any safety in these numbers.

Leaving aside the specific case of MK the I agree off road cycle facilities have the potential to be safer than roads. After all remove speeding motor vehicles and one of the main sources of danger is gone. In my experience though most facilities have poor surfaces, bad sightlines, steep gradients, inadequate signposting, and unpredictable behaviour by other users. So I'm not suprised they are not safe.

The only frequent exeptions to the poor quality rule are towpaths and former railway lines which of course were built for other modes of transport which demanded and got better design.
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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby OldGreyBeard » 18 Jan 2011, 8:30pm

I have to afmit I don't know MK but surely the roads are not all 70mph dual carriageways?


The main grid roads are except near the shopping centre. Others are 50mph with 30mph in the main shopping district . The road from the A5 to the first roundabout has at least 5 lanes as I recall from last weekend when I drove there.

So which of the stats in Franklin's Redways piece do you need to be careful with. The stats he gives for 1988-1997 gives serious and fatal accidents as - Grid Roads - 22, Local Roads - 13, Redways - 24.

IN 1997 the injured cyclists attending MK Hosp were Roads - 105 Redways -178 .

I'm not seeing any safety in these numbers.

Leaving aside the specific case of MK the I agree off road cycle facilities have the potential to be safer than roads. After all remove speeding motor vehicles and one of the main sources of danger is gone. In my experience though most facilities have poor surfaces, bad sightlines, steep gradients, inadequate signposting, and unpredictable behaviour by other users. So I'm not suprised they are not safe.

The only frequent exeptions to the poor quality rule are towpaths and former railway lines which of course were built for other modes of transport which demanded and got better design.


But accidents involving what? For example if it is due to crossing minor roads, then surely the thing to do would be to improve those crossings.

The most worrying bit of the whole trip was crossing H10 on foot when I couldn't find the entrance to the Redway network.

My main problem with Cyclecraft is that you can't sell it to people as a technique unless they are already cyclists, or at least not enough people. They just won't cycle on the roads irrespective of any stats. As a means of building modal share it has really failed whist I acknowledge that any modal shre we do have is probably largely attributable to it.
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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby Tigerbiten » 18 Jan 2011, 8:52pm

I sometimes cycle into MK from Northampton.
My impresions of the redways are ........
They are fine if your going slow, but not once you have any type of speed up. I may use uphill sections when I'm sub 10mph but onway I'm staying on them for downhill sections when it easy to hit +20 mph.
Having to stop at every juntion is a major PITA.
The signage is very bad and its dead easy to get lost. If you know where your going and/or where what you are aiming for is called, then you thend to be ok. But just arrive on the outskirts and try and cross MK with only a rough idea of where your going is "fun".
Most of the paths are only just wide enough for the trike. Even when I can see to road I'm crossing is clear, I need to slow right down to get through the bollards at the start and end of most paths.
The dual carriageways are not that bad to cycle along if you are confident, straight with good sight lines. I think I'm in more danger on some of the twisty A or B roads around the area due to poor sight lines .

Luck .............. :D

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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby OldGreyBeard » 18 Jan 2011, 10:02pm

Tigerbiten wrote:I sometimes cycle into MK from Northampton.
My impresions of the redways are ........
They are fine if your going slow, but not once you have any type of speed up. I may use uphill sections when I'm sub 10mph but onway I'm staying on them for downhill sections when it easy to hit +20 mph.
Having to stop at every juntion is a major PITA.
The signage is very bad and its dead easy to get lost. If you know where your going and/or where what you are aiming for is called, then you thend to be ok. But just arrive on the outskirts and try and cross MK with only a rough idea of where your going is "fun".
Most of the paths are only just wide enough for the trike. Even when I can see to road I'm crossing is clear, I need to slow right down to get through the bollards at the start and end of most paths.
The dual carriageways are not that bad to cycle along if you are confident, straight with good sight lines. I think I'm in more danger on some of the twisty A or B roads around the area due to poor sight lines .

Luck .............. :D


Most people cycle slow by your definition i.e < 15mph. You can quite easily maintain betwen 10 & 15mph. DfT guidance is to use the road above 15mph and shared use use at < 15mph

The junctions are less of a problem than I was expecitng as they are infrequent but I agree that they are a nuisance and priority should be given to cyclists at most of them. Many of the ones I used were raised tables so it wouldn't be a big job to change them.

Signage: Totally agree. I had a map in daylight and I already drive in MK so it gave me a head start

I think the dual carriageways would be less bad if it wasn't for all the roundabouts. Now if the journey only involved turning left that would be differnt but turning right would be difficult at 10mph when the rest of the traffic is so much faster and as for when there are more than two lanes i.e. motorway width, I think I'll leave them The problem is of course that they have been designed for cars with no thought of bikes or indeed pedestrians as they have the Redway.

Some of the paths are rather narrow. NCR6 is basically footpath width perhaps 1.5M where there is plenty of room for it to be two way 2.5M each way with a separate footpath.

My basic point is that the Redway is not to continental standards by a long way and therefore to use it as a reason for not introducing cyclepaths to continetal or really Dutch standards is a flawed argument.
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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby drossall » 18 Jan 2011, 10:51pm

I agree with Tigerbiten. As an occasional visitor, I have given up on the Redways, partly because of the research reported by Franklin, but quite largely because of the sign-posting. I have not found riding on the roads a problem (on a Saturday).

As I have pointed out before, on the road, you get from the south east to Phil Corley's by following signs to Aylesbury and similar, until you get near enough to find a sign to Stacey Bushes. This is the only practicable way to navigate to a small "village" from some distance, and is exactly how you would get even to a place near Rugby from Watford - follow Birmingham or "the North" first, then Rugby, and only then look for your actual destination.

I am lost for words at the approach of cycle-path designers who sign-post only the next "village", some place that I have never heard of, and expect me to make six to ten such hops across MK between unknown places, without ending up in a dead-end at a shopping centre or play-park.

What compounds their offence is this; in all the places where it does not, the authorities make the mistake of assuming that applying car thinking to bikes will work. In this one place where applying the "Rugby"-type car thinking to bikes is essential, for some reason they decide to do bikes differently :roll: :? :?:

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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby OldGreyBeard » 19 Jan 2011, 7:52am

drossall wrote:I agree with Tigerbiten. As an occasional visitor, I have given up on the Redways, partly because of the research reported by Franklin, but quite largely because of the sign-posting. I have not found riding on the roads a problem (on a Saturday).

As I have pointed out before, on the road, you get from the south east to Phil Corley's by following signs to Aylesbury and similar, until you get near enough to find a sign to Stacey Bushes. This is the only practicable way to navigate to a small "village" from some distance, and is exactly how you would get even to a place near Rugby from Watford - follow Birmingham or "the North" first, then Rugby, and only then look for your actual destination.

I am lost for words at the approach of cycle-path designers who sign-post only the next "village", some place that I have never heard of, and expect me to make six to ten such hops across MK between unknown places, without ending up in a dead-end at a shopping centre or play-park.

What compounds their offence is this; in all the places where it does not, the authorities make the mistake of assuming that applying car thinking to bikes will work. In this one place where applying the "Rugby"-type car thinking to bikes is essential, for some reason they decide to do bikes differently :roll: :? :?:


I agree that the sign posting is terrible. Without the Redway map I would have got completely lost, but with the map it was fine and no worse than driving in a new city.

I still wouldn't cycle on the main roads depsite what Mr Franklin says. His conclusions just don't seem to tie in with my own expereince. He does also have a quite a commitment to "proving" that cyclepaths don't work so I'd rather go on how I feel even if all the stats "proves" I'm wrong. Stats can be made to prove all sorts of things, hence the damn lies quip. I could well be wrong but at least it's my own decision, like deciding to cycle on the roads. if Mr Franklin thinks the Redway is unsafe then why doesn't he suggest ways in which to make it safe and help campaign for change?

What is "Rugby" type car thinking?
Last edited by OldGreyBeard on 19 Jan 2011, 11:46am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby drossall » 19 Jan 2011, 7:58am

I'm sorry; I was just trying to refer back to the example earlier in my post of a journey to Rugby. I meant that, when cycling, we navigate just as we do when driving - by looking for somewhere major in the general direction we are going, even if it is beyond our destination. Therefore, even if no cyclist in MK ever rode as far as Bedford or Aylesbury, you'd still need signs to those places to avoid getting lost.

Unfortunately, they don't hand out maps as you enter MK :wink:

Stevenage is just as bad, but on a smaller scale, by the way. The only place that is ever signed well is "Town Centre" - never the way home again. I keep expecting to come round a corner and find hundreds of hypothermic cyclists, huddled together for warmth round the back of some shops, because they got in and couldn't get out again :wink: :wink:

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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby OldGreyBeard » 19 Jan 2011, 10:55am

drossall wrote:I'm sorry; I was just trying to refer back to the example earlier in my post of a journey to Rugby. I meant that, when cycling, we navigate just as we do when driving - by looking for somewhere major in the general direction we are going, even if it is beyond our destination. Therefore, even if no cyclist in MK ever rode as far as Bedford or Aylesbury, you'd still need signs to those places to avoid getting lost.

Unfortunately, they don't hand out maps as you enter MK :wink:

Stevenage is just as bad, but on a smaller scale, by the way. The only place that is ever signed well is "Town Centre" - never the way home again. I keep expecting to come round a corner and find hundreds of hypothermic cyclists, huddled together for warmth round the back of some shops, because they got in and couldn't get out again :wink: :wink:


The Redway map is available as a massive pdf online: http://www.mkweb.co.uk/cycling/documents/MK_Redway_Map.pdf and http://www.mkweb.co.uk/cycling/images/South_MK_Redway_Map.jpg and http://www.mkweb.co.uk/cycling/images/North_MK_Redway_Map.jpg

I picked up a printed version at a cycling event some time ago. I expect they would post one to you.

I do agree about the signs. On the roads you get the green national routes and white local routes but the assumption seems to be that cycle journeys are all very local. NCR6 was not signed at all as far as I could see and I am used to hunting out the stickers on signposts that are often used.
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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby irc » 19 Jan 2011, 11:51pm

OldGreyBeard wrote:.I do agree about the signs. On the roads you get the green national routes and white local routes but the assumption seems to be that cycle journeys are all very local. NCR6 was not signed at all as far as I could see and I am used to hunting out the stickers on signposts that are often used.


Sort of sums it up. When driving you get useful signs that can be read from 100m away at 70mph. When cycling you get less than helpful signs that can often not be seen at 15mph.
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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby meic » 20 Jan 2011, 12:03am

And you wouldnt even have them if Sustrans volunteers didnt give up their time to put them up for you and if Sustrans had not had them manufactured at the expense of charitable donations to give to the volunteers.

The councils generally dont think that cyclists are worth any signs to get where they are going.
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Re: Milton Keynes Redway

Postby OldGreyBeard » 20 Jan 2011, 7:12am

We have lovely signs in Leighton Buzzard to full Highways spec that give times to destinations @ 10mph. Aylesbury has the same. They are much better than the MK ones.
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