Cyclescheme is the UK's most popular cycle to work benefit, creating more cyclists than any other provider.

Founded in 1967, Milton Keynes is the largest of the UKs post-war new towns. Its built on a grid system, which explains all those roundabouts more than 130 of them. Its also why, despite enveloping the towns of Bletchley, Stony Stratford and Wolverton, Milton Keynes doesnt have a traditional centre. Each grid square is a semi-autonomous district with its own amenities.  

Alongside and in between the road grid is a 200-mile network of segregated paths for cyclists and pedestrians: the redways, so-called because of their (mostly) red tarmac. They were part of the original plan so theyre better integrated than most British cycle tracks. There are underpasses and bridges to keep them separate from the roads although where they do intersect, the redways give way. 

Milton Keynes is a low-density city that lacks the tower blocks and back-to-backs of other UK cities. It's essentially a collection of suburbs, interspersed with roads and green spaces. Yet it still has big city facilities not just retail parks but attractions that people travel for, such as the National Bowl outdoor concert venue, the Stadium MK football ground and exhibition venue, the Xscape snow-dome and more. Its well situated for businesses in general and distribution hubs in particular, being only 50 miles northwest of London and right next to the M1. 

Cycling around Milton Keynes can be disorientating because its different areas feel oddly homogenous. Yet despite the citys busy roads, at least you can cycle around it irrespective of how capable or confident you are on a bike.  


The best type of bike for cycling in Milton Keynes 

There are some long, gradual drags in Milton Keynes but nothing thats particularly high or steep. A 1x derailleur setup or a hub gear should provide ample range. Mudguards are, as ever, useful year-round, especially on the redways, which tend not to drain as well as the road network. 

Much of the redways network is quite old. Tarmac thats crumbling or warped by tree roots is easier to negotiate on wider tyres (32mm-plus) than skinny ones. Such tyres are also better on other off-road routes like the Grand Union Canal towpath. As with any cycle tracks, broken glass is inevitable in places so its worth having or fitting tyres with some puncture resistance. 

If you want a flat handlebar bike, a hybrid is the best option for everyday use. Decent ones are available from a few hundred pounds upwards, but the Specialized Sirrus X 3.0 EQ (RRP £1,099) is worth the extra. It's relatively lightweight, thanks to its aluminium frame and rigid fork, and comes with commuting essentials such as mudguards, a rear rack, and lights powered by a Shimano hub dynamo. The components are of good quality, too. It has a 1x11 Shimano Deore drivetrain, Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, a comfortable saddle and grips, and 38mm tyres that will tackle unsurfaced tracks as well as tarmac ways

Specialized Sirrus X 3.0 EQ

Specialized Sirrus X 3.0 EQ 

Sportier riders wanting a drop-bar bike would be best served by a gravel bike. Prices are generally higher than hybrids, like for like, but the Marin Gestalt (RRP £955) is good value. The aluminium frame and fork have mounts for mudguards and a rear rack, and the 2x8 Shimano Claris drivetrain provides a gear range thats wide enough for rides in the lumpy countryside as well as the city. Tyres are do-it-all 35mm ones that suit tarmac and unsurfaced tracks. The only noticeable cost saving, aside from the lack of commuting equipment, is the brake choice: Tektro C40 mechanical disc brakes are adequate rather than exceptional.  

 Marin Gestalt

Marin Gestalt

Milton Keynestransport network 

Milton Keynes was built with car travel in mind. The major roads in its transport grid, some of which are dual carriageways, are intimidating to cycle on. Expect to use the redways at least some of the time. They are extensive enough to take you pretty much anywhere you want to go. They dont follow desire lines as directly as the roads, however, and the cycle track signage is better at taking you to the next node of the redway network than it is for directing you across the city.  

There is a map of the redways and the city has its own online journey planner. Until you get your bearings, however, a phone on your bikes handlebar will be more practical for on-the-go navigation. Useful apps include Citymapper (set the city to London), and Google Maps.  

As well as the cycle parking youd expect, Milton Keyness cycling facilities include tool stations and a get changed unit. There are Santander hire bikes and Lime e-bikes at various places in the city. The council also runs an Access to Bikes Scheme and free, month-long e-bike loans so that residents without a bike can get pedalling. If you come across a problem on the redways, meanwhile, you can report it online 

Milton Keynes Central Station is on the West Coast Main Line, giving fast intercity access to London, Birmingham, Manchester and beyond. Services are operated by Avanti West Coast (four bike spaces, reservations mandatory), London Northwestern Railway (at least onebike space per train available on a first-come, first-served basis, except for peak-time commuter trains), and West Midlands Railway (same cycle carriage as London Northwestern).  

Bus services in Milton Keynes are primarily run by Aviva. Only folding bikes are carried, preferably in a bag. For residents who arent on a bus route, the council runs an on-demand service called MK Connect. Luggage space is limited; a bagged compact folder like a Brompton might be accepted, but nothing bigger.  

The Grand Union Canal, which runs from London to the Midlands, passes through Milton Keynes. You can cycle on the towpath, although skinny tyres aren’t best suited to its surface. 


Local rides in Milton Keynes 

There are plenty of traffic-free rides within Milton Keynes itself. One of the nicer ones, which shows off the citys lakes and parks and its concrete cows! is the Milton Keynes 30-Mile Challenge Cycle. You could split it into shorter sections if you didnt fancy riding it in one go. If you want to escape the city, meanwhile, the Grand Union Canal will take you from Water Eaton as far as Leighton Buzzard on a level towpath. The Three Locks pub is a handy stop for refreshments. 

Milton Keynes Concrete Cows

Milton Keynes Concrete Cows

Road rides through the Vale of Aylesbury are surprisingly quiet because the network of bigger roads takes the traffic away from the lanes. How about a loop out to Buckingham from Bletchley? Or head east through the woods, heath and parkland of Woburn. On a longer days ride, you can get to the Chiltern Hills and back; Wendover is less than 30 miles away.  

The off-road riding around Milton Keynes is more gravel riding than mountain biking. Woburn Bike Park is on your doorstep, however, and has family-friendly bike trails and bridleways, as well as a jump park. Also close by are Chicksands Bike Park and Aston Hill bike park, although the latter is temporarily closed.  


Bike shops in Milton Keynes 

Milton Keynes has ten Cyclescheme retailers within a handful of miles of the centre, ranging from big chain stores to smaller independents. Here are three of the most highly rated by Cyclescheme customers. 


Corley Cycles in Stacey Bushes offers bike fitting as well as sales and servicing and has a good range of womens bikes and clothing. Its bike brands include Cervelo, Colnago, Focus, Kinesis, Pinarello, Specialized and Trek. Customer comment: Excellent service and advice, test-rode 2 bikes. My new bike arrived in 2 days, had help with pedals, cleats, bike fit and service. 5 star! 


Chaineys Cycles is an independent shop in Shenley Church End, offering everything from sales and repairs to wheel building. Bike brands on sale include  Cuda, Dawes, Forme, Genesis, Giant, Merida, Ridgeback, Scott, Fit BMX and United BMX. Customer comment: Matt and the team at Chaineys were very helpful and supportive. Outstanding customer service. 


The Evans Cycles store in Milton Keynes is at Xscape on Marlborough Gate. Open seven days a week, it has a huge range of bike brands and almost 200 bikes on the shop floor. Brands stocked included, but are not limited to, Bianchi, BMC, Brompton, Cannondale, Genesis, GT, Kona, Norco, Pashley, Raleigh, Saracen, Scott, Lapierre and Bobbin. Customer comment: Always use Evans for family cycles as it's a seamless process and they have available stock for any bike.”  


Keeping your bike secure in Milton Keynes 

Milton Keynes is in the top 20% worst places in England and Wales for reported bike theft, by postcode area. That makes it comparable to cities such as Reading and York, though behind nearby university cities such as Oxford and Cambridge. Summertime is the peak period for thefts, and central areas of the city are the worst. 

Always lock your bike whenever you turn your back on it, ideally with a Sold Secure Gold or Diamond-rated lock. Lock the bike through the frame to a sturdy piece of street furniture or a dedicated cycle stand. If you have a high-value bike or will be leaving it locked up for an extended period for example, overnight use two locks. 

The vast majority of bike thefts take place not on the street but in semi-privatelocations at home. That means on your property but not in the house for example, a garage, shed or garden. Lock your bike to a wall or ground anchor if it will be in one of those locations. Alternatively, park it indoors.