Connecting Milton Keynes's 280 miles of cycling and walking routes

Milton Keynes Council is putting culture at the heart of its green transport infrastructure through the ‘Pedalling Culture’ project. This case study forms part of the Value of culture - partnership working section of our online Culture Hub.


Pedalling Culture will see the city’s cultural venues and spaces better connected to its 280 miles of cycling and walking routes. It will ensure that both the local community and those visiting Milton Keynes will have better access to its cultural offer, while also promoting the environmental and health agendas.

Milton Keynes Council has been granted £300,000 from Arts Council England for Pedalling Culture as part of the Cultural Destinations programme.

Councillor Liz Gifford, Portfolio Holder for Culture, said:

We are thrilled that Arts Council England has chosen to invest in Milton Keynes in 2017, which is an incredibly exciting year for us: MK’s 50th birthday. The council and city stakeholders are investing into our cultural infrastructure and value-developing cultural wellbeing for our residents and visitors.

Future impact of the project

The project will see a minimum of four new e-charge points installed in cultural spaces, enabling visitors to arts and heritage sites to have a competing offer to the existing commercial offer. There is also a commitment to embed cultural way-finding into the innovative ‘driverless pod’ programme (Milton Keynes is hosting a trial of driverless car technology, and if successful there are plans for a fleet of 40 self-driving pods). Promotional cultural information and messages will be embedded into the ‘pod’ experience.

The council will work with the MK City Centre Management Company and Santander to increase the number and locations of the Santander Cycle MK programme, which will increase use and access to this bicycle hire scheme. Pedalling Culture includes artist-designed vinyl-wrap commissions for the Santander bikes and e-cars, giving them an identity unique to Milton Keynes. Visitors will see new and improved signage on the green routes and arts and heritage sites will become way-finding markers, making best use of existing assets.

Embedding sustainable transport into the mind-set of local residents, especially those in deprived areas and reaching diverse communities, will take more than the provision of infrastructure and systems. A newly recruited ‘Volunteers Champion’ from the community will promote Pedalling Culture, with the intention of reaching 450 formal and informal groups.

Paul Sanders, Director of Community Facilities at Milton Keynes Council, said:

Bringing together the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ agenda and culture are a priority across the whole borough. This investment around an innovative theme will help us capture the imagination of audiences across both areas, which is incredibly exciting.

2018 will see a creative programme of locally influenced and informed cycle-based events such as a cycle-in cinema, community-led mechanical parades, ‘pimp your bike’ events and bicycle basket bazaars. Events will range from small and localised to large and city-wide, ensuring audience engagement at cultural sites and across the dedicated cycle paths. It will also provide a platform for partners to gather intelligence about cultural choices from the audiences.

Pedalling Culture will include the development of cultural destination packages designed to engage visitors, residents and businesses. From 45-minute cycling lunchbreak packages to weekend trips, this will increase the profile of the city’s diverse cultural assets. Selling the story is a major part of making Pedalling Culture work, and high-profile positioning of Milton Keynes as a cultural destination will be a success marker of the project.

Milton Keynes intends to host a conference in early 2019 to celebrate the Pedalling Culture project and share the learning outcomes, monitoring and evaluation. Lucy Bedford, Arts and Culture Manager, said: “This is a new way of working for us, bringing departments together across a local authority which had not had the opportunity to work together before. We are all excited to see how we can enhance each other’s programmes.”

For further information contact Helen Thakrar, Project Manager, Milton Keynes Council: helen.thakrar@milton-keynes.gov.uk


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This case study has been developed in conjunction with Arts Council England