Views on shared-use paths

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Nearholmer
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Views on shared-use paths

Post by Nearholmer »

Prompted by discussions about shared-use paths in the “should e-bikes have assistance up to 20mph” thread, I thought I’d show some views of shared-use paths as I know and love them, mainly to reinforce the point that “shared use” does not necessarily mean “narrow pedestrian pavement, repurposed on the cheap by sticking up a few blue signs”.

These are all taken locally to home on the eastern side of Milton Keynes, but while we have more than anywhere else in the UK, this sort of path isn’t by any means unique to MK.

First, the three grades of shared paths. Here you can see (well sort of, given the shadows):

- Redway, which is the wide with good surface that curves left to right;

- “leisure path”, lower grade, so narrower, and more variable surfaces, so the one going “straight on” and the one disappearing through the hedge; and,

- bridleway, not very obvious, because the surface is grass, but this is a T-junction in the bridleway network too.

All three sorts are available to cyclists.
IMG_3165.jpeg
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Last edited by Nearholmer on 13 Feb 2024, 10:15pm, edited 3 times in total.
Nearholmer
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by Nearholmer »

More typical of residential areas.

This bit is c15yo.
IMG_3157.jpeg
And this is only about three years old, in an area still being developed:
IMG_3160.jpeg
Today, I didn’t happen to be going through any of the older developed areas, but the principle is much the same across most of the city.

Grade separation at major roads, so either under or over:
IMG_3163.jpeg
IMG_3164.jpeg
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Jdsk
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by Jdsk »

Thanks

Redway is an MK term, bridleway national... where does leisure path come from?

Jonathan

PS: Would you like the second photo in the second post... developed? : - )
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mjr
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by mjr »

Jdsk wrote: 12 Feb 2024, 12:00pm Redway is an MK term, bridleway national... where does leisure path come from?
Leisure path is also an MK term. The paths are shared foot / cycle ways but built narrower and some were loose surfaced. They often ran through parks and meandered a bit, often offering nice views. If you wanted to get somewhere efficiently, redways were a better choice. Leisure paths were shown in green on the old redway maps.
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Psamathe
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by Psamathe »

So much depends on the attitudes of those using the paths.

Cycling NL 2022 & 2023 compared to pre-pandemic I was struck by how Dutch cycle paths seem to have become shared use (even when there are pavements and alternatives). Joggers, pedestrians all seem to gravitate to the cycle path. Very much around built-up areas not rural areas (but you don't get a lot of very rural in NL). And it doesn't seem to be the problem it can be in the UK because there does not seem the antagonism between users there often can be in the UK.

In the UK my (limited) experience of shared use paths is that different categories consider it "their path" and whilst it might be legal for others to use the path they have absolute priority if they want to take the entire space.

But I do wonder if it's not a shared use path issue but rather a UK attitudes to different users. Yesterday out cycling a narrow (just 2 way) road and a group of walkers in front spread across the entire road. They moved for the car a few hundred yards ahead and despite having looked round and seen me they then spread out across the road again meaning I couldn't get past. I consider roads "shared use" in that they are shared by cars, pedestrians, cyclists, horses, etc. - there is room for everybody and everybody has the right to use them and it's quite possible for all to use them without issue or disruption.

I also think a lot depends on what people regard shared use paths as being for. I don't think them suitable for trying to break records for Strava segments but rather they are more oriented about transport.

Ian
Jdsk
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by Jdsk »

mjr wrote: 12 Feb 2024, 12:06pm
Jdsk wrote: 12 Feb 2024, 12:00pm Redway is an MK term, bridleway national... where does leisure path come from?
Leisure path is also an MK term. The paths are shared foot / cycle ways but built narrower and some were loose surfaced. They often ran through parks and meandered a bit, often offering nice views. If you wanted to get somewhere efficiently, redways were a better choice. Leisure paths were shown in green on the old redway maps.
Thankyou

Jonathan
Last edited by Jdsk on 12 Feb 2024, 12:07pm, edited 1 time in total.
Nearholmer
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by Nearholmer »

All looks a bit deserted, does anyone actually use these paths?

It was quiet this morning, most people at work or school by the time I went out, so mostly older pedestrians and mums with children in pushchairs, but c0800-0900 some of these paths are steadily busy, especially because c85% of kids either walk or cycle to school, and at weekends the use for leisure in many locations is high.

I did encounter a long crocodile of primary school kids on their way to the library, plenty of dog-walkers, a few fellow cyclists, and the Monday morning running club:
IMG_3169.jpeg
Also a few people using mobility scooters (look closely and you can see a chap walking his dog using one, chatting with other dog walkers)
IMG_3174.jpeg
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simonineaston
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by simonineaston »

..narrow pedestrian pavement, repurposed on the cheap by sticking up a few blue signs…
that’s a reasonable chatacterisation of many of the paths here in Bristol. In some ways we’re a victim of our own success in that much of the cycling infrastructure is oldish now - say 10/15 years, which means a lot of the signage is badly in need of a refresh - in fact my closest path into town has just received exactly that. 👏
Add to that increased usage and it's all a bit of free-for-all. There’s a cultural shift too, cos historically the relatively fewer cyclists had learnt the basic rules either from school cycling proficiency or else from parents. The demographic of users more recently is much wider - neither cyclists nor walkers seem aware of the usual conventions that were more widespread a couple of decades ago. Which is a polite way of saying that using paths that used to be quiet and calm has morphed into an experience that's far more stressful!
Last edited by simonineaston on 12 Feb 2024, 12:13pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Nearholmer
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by Nearholmer »

So what can you access by shared path?

Everywhere effectively. There are some “not spots” in the older Victorian towns that form part of the city, but otherwise you can literally go door-to-door by bike, everywhere.

A library and shopping centre:
IMG_3162.jpeg
A gym:
IMG_3170.jpeg
A chap who looked as if he’d been to the local shop:
IMG_3167.jpeg
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simonineaston
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by simonineaston »

I can see from the piccies that cycle travel as shown would be a pleasure. Much of what can be achieved depends on the base material… here in Bristol we still have a lot of tight lanes, some cobbled, often narrow, that doesn't make for the best green travel infrastructure!
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Nearholmer
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by Nearholmer »

And, for people like me who enjoy a bit of mud, the bridleways are spot-on:
IMG_3178.jpeg
IMG_3180.jpeg
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Nearholmer
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by Nearholmer »

Final type of “sharer” locally is the delivery robot. These are polite little chaps, but can be annoyingly hesitant at junctions.
IMG_3181.jpeg
Now, it’s easy (if there’s a will) to do this sort of thing in newly developed areas, and a chuffing sight more difficult in older areas, although I would contend that very heavily traffic-calmed “traditional streets” create shared areas of pretty much the same utility.

But, my overall point is that when people on this forum decry shared-use paths, and even in one case advocate banning cyclists from them, there needs to be a bit of sense and gradation applied to what’s being said. These paths aren’t as quick to use as fully reserved bikes paths, you have to watch out for all the other sorts of users I’ve mentioned (I didn’t see any equestrians this morning, but them too), but for utility and leisure where the use-density is appropriate for this sort of design, they are flipping excellent.

Footnote: the path design in MK isn’t perfect, and I could do another photo essay on examples of good and bad (including some frankly dangerous) design practices within a few miles radius, but that might get a tad boring!
Nearholmer
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by Nearholmer »

In the UK my (limited) experience of shared use paths is that different categories consider it "their path" and whilst it might be legal for others to use the path they have absolute priority if they want to take the entire space.
This is really important, and my observation from a lot of shared-path cycling in many places in the southern half of England is that “sharing nicely” is a learned behaviour that comes from familiarity. Here in MK it is very, very, very rarely a problem, I’m sure because it’s “part of the deal” of living here. Cambridge seems fairly sharing-literate too, but in some other places people simply don’t get it, I’ve had people completely freak out at the sight of me on a bike on what they perceive to be “a footpath”. In Aylesbury, as an instance, they’ve recently created shared paths, and it’s obvious that people haven’t got the plot yet.

Sharing also breaks down, and becomes dangerous, when the density of use becomes too great. I’m sure there are studies and guides on this somewhere, but I go more on instinct/experience and will get off and walk if it’s too busy.
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by axel_knutt »

Nearholmer wrote: 12 Feb 2024, 11:58am Grade separation at major roads, so either under or over:

IMG_3163.jpeg

IMG_3164.jpeg
A 3m climb at a subway or flyover wastes twice as much energy as stopping from 12mph at a give way line.
Psamathe wrote: 12 Feb 2024, 12:07pmI was struck by how Dutch cycle paths seem to have become shared use.....And it doesn't seem to be the problem it can be in the UK because there does not seem the antagonism between users there often can be in the UK.
What's needed is an end to the tribal feuding, which is why I keep advocating shared use LTNs, and making prior cycling experience a prerequisite for obtaining a driving licence. The former discourages tribalism, and the latter promotes a view of the road from another's point of view.

83% of cyclists already drive, but only 30% of motorists cycle.
Psamathe wrote: 12 Feb 2024, 12:07pmIn the UK my (limited) experience of shared use paths is that different categories consider it "their path"
I've been arguing for years that if you create separate territories you create separate tribes as well, and give them something to fight over.

The problem is that it's too easy to use cars, but that won't change whilst environmental policy is nothing more than a stick to beat the opposition with: first "Vote Blue get Green", then "Cut the Green crap".

Unless we get cross-party agreement on policy so that it can't be voted down, voters will keep being led to believe that problems can be fixed without changing anything, and so nothing will change.
Nearholmer wrote: 12 Feb 2024, 12:45pmmy observation from a lot of shared-path cycling in many places in the southern half of England is that “sharing nicely” is a learned behaviour that comes from familiarity
It does bother me that we might have gone past the point of no return: that what's been done to public attitudes can't easily be undone, but we can only try. You only have to look at the fury from the car lobby any time even the most trivial changes to their dominance are proposed.
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Nearholmer
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Re: Views on shared-use paths

Post by Nearholmer »

A 3m climb at a subway or flyover wastes twice as much energy as stopping from 12mph at a give way line.
The cars don’t do the climbing to achieve grade separation, the pedestrians and cyclists do. Whether wasting human energy matters, I suppose is a moot point.

Some of the grade separation in MK almost falls into the “bad practice” bracket, by facing cyclists and pedestrians with off-putting climbs - I personally don’t mind it because I enjoy the exercise, but I can imagine that it’s a putter-offer for some potential users. OTH, there are some other bits where good advantage is taken of “the lie of the land” to achieve separation as puff-lessly as possible.

Taken in the round though, I’d far rather see grade separation than not, because it opens up use of paths to kids. You probably wouldn’t let a couple of 10yo go to the shop without adult supervision if it involved crossing a dual-carriageway main road on the level, whereas with grade separation it’s fine.

There’s consultation going on at the moment about extending the network into some of the Victorian areas, and it’s been interesting to see how strongly people feel about preserving grade separation and indeed separation from the carriageways in general.
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