To those who point to the provision of cycle paths alongside roads with high volumes of traffic, or with high speed limits, as one of the principle ingredients of Dutch cycle policy – an ingredient that serves, partly, to explain why the Dutch cycle in such large numbers – some UK cycle campaigners opposed to such paths have a ready retort.
‘They built it in Milton Keynes, and they didn’t come.’
This is, of course, the large New Town where urban planners
segregated the roads and cycle paths into a system of Redways. These run through the grid-squares and were designed for leisure cycling.
Despite this comprehensive network of segregated cycle paths, Milton Keynes has a dismally low level of cycling. Hard data is a little hard to come by, but 2001 figures quoted here suggest that the trip share of cycling in Milton Keynes, at 3% of all trips, is barely better than the national average.
From these two facts – that Milton Keynes has a network of segregated cycle paths, and that it has no more cycling than any other typical town across the UK – some choose to draw the conclusion that there is no connection between the provision of cycle paths separated from motor traffic and the amount of cycling in a given place.
Milton Keynes, Stevenage and East Kilbride all tried the oft proposed solution. They completely segregated cars and cycles which have their own completely segregated network so you never need to go near the roads. They have some of the lowest cycling levels in the UK. So if anyone tells you what we need is segregated facilities to encourage more people to cycle, just point them to the failed experiments in those three towns
This is superficially persuasive. Milton Keynes, we are told, has fantastic cycle paths, of a similar standard to the Netherlands, and yet nobody cycles there – at least, not in any greater numbers than across the rest of the UK. So, apparently, we shouldn’t waste our time asking for cycle paths as part of a strategy to boost cycling levels, because they don’t appear to be a way of encouraging people to cycle – at least in Milton Keynes.
Unfortunately this argument – what I shall henceforth term, for brevity, the ‘Milton Keynes Argument’ – is entirely bogus; it rests on a misunderstanding of the use and purpose of cycle paths within a broader cycling strategy, and it also places far too much weight on an apparent correlation between cycle paths in Milton Keynes and the level of cycling there, while ignoring the several other variables in play.
April 2012) They built it, and they didn’t come – the lesson of Milton Keynes | As Eas y As Riding A Bike
To those who point to the provision of cycle paths alongside roads with high volumes of traffic, or with high speed limits, as one of the principle ingredients of Dutch cycle policy – an ingredient that serves, partly, to explain why the Dutch cycle in such large numbers – some UK cycle campaigners opposed to… [Read More]