Chairman’s Letter, Autumn 2022


Dear RCC members,

In years gone by a cough and a cold would not have stopped me going to a meeting but in these odd Covid-era days I felt it was, at the very least, inconsiderate of me to potentially pass on my germs to others and given the age profile of RCC members it could well have been dangerous to some.

I was therefore pleased to hear that the AGM had gone well and that those people who did attend, especially the new Mayor of WoBC, had come up with lots of ideas and suggestions as to how our campaign can become more effective. So thank you to all of you who attended and especially to the committee members who ran the meeting.

The quiet days of the summer holidays have given me plenty of time to think about cycling in a wider sense. I don’t need to make the case for encoura-ging cycling as a response to the many problems that humanity faces in this 21st century. That has been well done by plenty of others before me.

However one area that has not been given the attention that I think it deserves is how cycling projects are dreamed up and planned in the first place.

I live near the hospital and have cycled around the area for over 40 years. It is not at all obvious to me that the highest priorities are cycle lanes on Shinfield Road and Sidmouth Street and a traffic calming chicane on Redlands Road.

I understand that the Council has to bid for government monies and that schemes have to go through certain administrative and consultative stages before they can be implemented, but how did these ideas come about in the first place? What was the major itch that a million pound scheme on the Shinfield Road was designed to scratch?

We know that Sidmouth Street was funded from Covid monies – yes, it was part of the effort to keep people safely apart so that the virus could not spread so easily – but what was the process that ever got the scheme on the Council’s list in the first place?

Money for cycling infrastructure improvements is always going to be limited so there should be a way of ensuring that the schemes that do get approved represent real value for money.

I am hoping that the research about the town centre cycle hub that has been carried out by Dr Emma Street at the University will list what data is currently available.

If one of the benefits of a secure cycle parking hub is to encourage more people to cycle into Reading, it seems obvious to me, that some data about the numbers of people cycling before and after would allow an honest evaluation of the scheme’s success. Unfortunately I can see no plan whatsoever to do this.

I appreciate that this is not a straight-forward thing to do. Once you start to look, you have to navigate a minefield of acronyms, LCWIP, LTN1/20 etc., and there is a methodology called by the DfT, Propensity to Cycle.

Surely in this day and age there must be a better way to prioritise possible schemes and work out which ones give the best return. I will be asking the committee to bend their minds to this problem as we work through the ideas that were generated at the AGM.

I would like to remind you all about my Chairman’s Challenge. I am looking for photos of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in cycle provision in the area. We have prizes to offer and I will announce the winners at the Reading Cycle Festival on 25 Sept-ember. I hope to see as many of you as possible there and if you feel like volunteering to help on the stand, please contact us.

Finally I want to congratulate young Harry Peksa from Wokingham, who with his father has completed the Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle challenge at the age of 8. The bare statistics only tell a fraction of the story. He cycled 1,245 miles and climbed 24,000 metres over 36 days.

He has raised £11,455 for the Tiggywinkle’s Wildlife Hospital, which is a charity for hedgehogs near Aylesbury. However the sheer magnitude of his achievement is difficult to comprehend.

Harry is in the same class at school as my granddaughter and I am not sure how many others in this class could have tackled such a challenge. Again, well done Harry. You can read all about his journey on Facebook at Harry vs. Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Joe Edwards
RCC Chairman

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