Friday, 26 September 2014

The 7 Wonders of Milton Keynes: Part 3

Following on from Part 1 and Part 2

4. Grid System & Roundabouts
Photo by myself

Mention Milton Keynes to almost anyone and what immediately comes to mind is roundabouts – if they’ve actually heard of MK that is. It’s not surprising really as Milton Keynes does, in all honesty, have an awful lot of roundabouts. But more often than not, when someone [who doesn’t live or has never lived in Milton Keynes] speaks of the roundabouts they do so with a tone of contempt. Yes, we have a lot of roundabouts in Milton Keynes but teamed with the grid-like system of roads, the roundabouts do actually work quite well.

The Milton Keynes Development Corporation (or the MKDC) planned major roads to be laid out in a grid pattern – grid roads – with the spaces between the roads – the grid squares – housing different neighbourhoods or estates. Most estates have their own local centres meaning, to a certain extent, they can act as self-contained communities. Roundabouts are used at intersections of grid roads which are efficient at dealing with high volumes of traffic. Except in Central Milton Keynes where mostly traffic lights are used.

The major grid roads are dual carriageways meaning that you can travel to one end of Milton Keynes to the other, by car, fairly quickly – certainly quicker than in other towns. This of course means it is risky for pedestrians to cross the grid roads, but there are underpasses for exactly this purpose situated frequently along grid roads. These underpasses often connect one estate to another and have signs to tell you what estate you are entering. Something that makes MIlton Keynes’s road system different to other towns and cities is that there are long stretches of trees planted alongside the roads and often in the centre of roundabouts. This is one reason why pollution levels are lower in Milton Keynes than other towns and cities of a similar size.

Photos by myself

5. Redways
Photo by myself

Milton Keynes has a special system of public footpaths and cycleways, some that run alongside the grid roads and some through and around parks and housing estates. These are known as redways – although the paths themselves are not really very red, some may have been once but are now mostly a faded brown or grey colour. Rumour has it they were originally called rideways but this was mis-read and the term ‘redway’ stuck.

Where redways intersect with roads, usually within housing estates, yellow bollards are used to indicate that pedestrians and cyclists on the redway should give way to road traffic. At other points on the redway network, the paths run underneath roads instead of across using underpasses. Underpasses are usually marked with the name of the estate you are entering. These signs are teamed with blue and white signposts that indicate nearby estates – ensuring you are never lost. The blue and white signposts also show major points in Milton Keynes like Central Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell and Wolverton – depending on where you are – that may be a little further away.

There are around 170 miles of redways in Milton Keynes, mostly scenic and free from fast moving motor traffic. Concrete jungle? What concrete jungle?

Photo by myself
Map(s) courtesy of Destination MK
Part 4

This project has been a long time in the making – mainly because I don’t actually live in Milton Keynes anymore (to take any more photographs) but also because life is busy. So, I am sorry to the people that I intrigued way back in March (?!) with this idea and then wasn’t too quick about pursuing it.

There is an [e-]booklet version of this, coming soon, with more photographs – plus it actually makes use of my editorial design skills – but first of all I wanted to post my words in a series of blog posts…

1 comment:

  1. Bicycle lanes are great. This country caters to the car driver too much.