Milton Keynes redway system
The Milton Keynes redway system (locally known as Redways) is a 170-mile (270 km) network of cycleways/paths for cyclists and pedestrians in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. It is generally surfaced with red tarmac, and criss-crosses most of the city.
Some of these Redways run next to the grid roads and local roads, with underpasses or bridges where they intersect major roads. Others run through park land and along the flood plain of the Great Ouse and its tributaries. One of the aims of the Redways was to make travel for pedestrians and cyclists convenient, safe, pleasant and accident free, but a study suggests that the system has only partially met these expectations. More recent statistical data shows that the accident rate for pedestrians in Milton Keynes is just 46% of the average for England and the rate for cyclists is 87%.[clarification needed]
The same secluded semi-rural nature of many Redways that makes them pleasant by day can make some people feel unsafe to use them after dark. The Redways are lit at night, but the so-called "leisure route" cycle paths which effectively form part of the network are not. Although the redway lighting levels as measured photometrically exceed the standards for cycle routes, the subjective perception is that the routes at night are "dark and gloomy", with the nearby dense vegetation causing "black holes" and appearing to offer many possible places of concealment for criminals. As a result, fears over personal safety cause many people to avoid the routes at night.
As all Redways are shared use with no cycle/pedestrian lane marking or separation, the need for frequent braking to pass pedestrians, other cyclists, children, dogs etc. safely is another cause of frustration.
The Redways fail to provide a convenient, pleasant way to commute within Milton Keynes, mainly due to their circuitous and steeply-graded nature. They are said to be "least suited" to the commuter cyclist and their shortcomings for this purpose are too extensive to allow practical changes to make them more suitable. They are similarly poor for shopping trips by bicycle – the steep gradients are a particular problem for a bicycle heavily loaded with shopping, and the poor surface quality, especially the non-flush nature of intersections with other roads, risks damaging fragile goods such as eggs.
Navigation on the redways is difficult because the signposting is poor, the profusion of semi-random curves results in junctions frequently failing to offer any choice of route which appears to lead in the desired direction, and the poor visibility engendered by vegetation and/or relative elevation makes it difficult to see any landmarks or features outside the immediate locality by which one may orientate oneself relative to the town as a whole. A survey in 1993 indicated that ease of navigation on the redways was the most poorly rated criterion of user satisfaction relating to any aspect of the Milton Keynes cycling infrastructure.
Hardcore road cyclists prefer to use the grid roads. The dual carriageways, multi-lane roundabouts and 60 or 70 mph limits make this appear to be a dangerous option, but in fact it is the redways which are more dangerous, by a considerable margin. Statistics show that the accident rate per million km cycled on the redways, at 319 accidents per million km, is more than double that on the estate roads (149), and nearly seven times that on the supposedly "dangerous" grid roads (47). From 1988 to 1997 there were 22 'serious or fatal' cyclist collisions on the grid roads, 13 on estate roads, and 24 'serious or fatal' collisions involving cyclists using the Redway system, five of which involved vehicle/cyclist collisions at roadway/Redway intersections. The number of cyclists using the cycle routes is far higher than the number using the roads and the reports of poor user discipline suggest that their experience levels are far lower, though "highly skilled" cyclists are also likely to be involved in accidents. The most significant factors in causing redway accidents are poor visibility, poor surfaces, and sharp bends, with others such as obstructions and user behaviour also making a contribution.
In icy conditions the Redways aren't usually gritted, which can cause hazardous slippery slopes on the over/underpasses. In 2009, the Local Authority have started a programme of reworking the Redway signage with replacement signs and route markings on the tarmac but much remains to be done.
Because they often take in the most scenic areas, the Redways provide an excellent leisure facility. The library provides free maps of the better tourist routes. Casual and leisure use is the function to which the redways are most suited as the low speeds and meandering routes become an advantage.
National Cycle Network
The national Sustrans National Cycle Network Route 6 (Derby – Luton) and Route 51 (Cambridge – Oxford) runs to and through the city (map). Route 6 enters the city at Old Wolverton and runs south through Milton Keynes on the local Redway network and on some of the 'trim trail' routes. The route takes in Campbell Park before eventually merging with route 51 at the National Bowl. Route 51 runs in a loop beginning at the National Bowl running north through Knowlhill and Loughton. The route then crosses over the A5 and into Central Milton Keynes by Milton Keynes Central railway station. The route then runs along Midsummer Boulevard passing between the Centre: MK and Midsummer Place shopping centre crosses over into Campbell Park before joining back up with Route 6 by the Grand Union Canal.
Cycle storage can be found along route 51 at Milton Keynes Central train station (covered cycle racks) and at the junction of Midsummer Boulevard and Witan Gate where there are storage and changing facilities available. There are also frequent Sheffield cycle racks near the station, and outside the shopping centre and theatre, on both sides of Midsummer Boulevard. Cyclists appear to be encouraged to cycle through car parks (with two-way lanes) on each side of Midsummer Boulevard, and use pedestrian underpasses at the major junctions (cars use the roundabouts and/or traffic lights).
The Swan's Way long distance footpath also uses part of the Redway system.
- "Redway Facts". MK Web. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- "Milton Keynes Redways". Destination Milton Keynes. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- "Two decades of the Redway cycle paths in Milton Keynes" by John Franklin, Traffic Engineering + Control, July/August 1999
- MKi Observatory: Quality of life indicators – Community safety. 2003/2004 data.[dead link]
- "Redways and Leisure Routes". Cyclecraft.co.uk. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "Milton Keynes Redway Routes – CIBSE". Retrieved 17 September 2012.