Dear RCC members
I was intending to write a long diatribe fulminating against the dire state of the local roads, but as most of you who read this newsletter are cyclists, you will know as well as I do how bad they are.
Sadly it reflects the state of most aspects of the public sector in these times of austerity and my words here, even if all the councillors in our local authorities read and take notice, will not generate the cash needed to repair them properly.
As I have written before, I feel that as concerned cyclists and taxpayers, we should be encouraging our elected representatives to make sure that the available monies are used to the best effect.
To do this they need to consult more widely and take notice of cyclists’ views and also to go and look at best – and worst – practice in other places. I have in mind particularly, the Shinfield Road scheme which is currently under construction and which at the Christchurch Road end is mostly complete.
Whilst the signage is not yet in place and we think there is to be a resurfacing of the road itself, it is possible to use the new cycle paths in both directions.
Last week, I cycled these paths and will put up on the website a fuller account of what I think, but in brief, I found that going uphill on the University side it was quite useful until you got to the Pepper Lane traffic lights where you were on your own to fight it out with the traffic, but coming back, there were too many obstacles to a smooth downhill ride – including a bus stopped in the middle of the path and cars backing out of the doctors’ surgery.
Later that week I spent a pleasant lunchtime in West London and was able to have a close look at the cycle scheme along Chiswick High Street. Here they have implemented a dedicated two-way path along one side of the street, with very clear indications to motorists as to who has priority.
Of course, being London on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the cycle path was very well used, and motorists seemed to be giving way to cyclists. It got me thinking that it might have been better to build a wider two-way path on the University side rather than separate ones on both sides.
I look forward to the start of the Autumn term to see how well used the scheme becomes and what cyclists and others think about it. I trust RBC have made plans for a proper evaluation and that this will inform future schemes like Castle Hill.
I have been cycling into the centre of Reading quite a bit recently and have still not found any sensible way to incorporate Sidmouth Street into my route, but I have my favourite short-cuts and manage to get in and out without being troubled too much by traffic.
The bus lane down London Street is a lifesaver for me. Riding around gives me opportunity to watch how other cyclists behave and at the risk of sounding like an old white fart, I am increasingly concerned about the use of e-bikes and the way they are being ridden by the gig economy food delivery riders.
Setting aside the matter of their legality and also that of electric scooters (see the Government website https://www.gov.uk/electric-bike-rules), the way they are being ridden risks bringing all cyclists into disrepute.
The Southampton Cycle Campaign has a code of conduct for cyclists here: southamptoncyclingcampaign.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Southampton-Cyclists-Code-A4-A5-fold.pdf.
Whilst promoting cycling is generally the flavour of the month at present, the car drivers’ lobby is still very powerful as we saw in the Uxbridge by-election and cyclists can do a lot to help or hinder the cause by the way they ride and how it affects pedestrians and other road users.
I would be interested to hear from our members as to whether we should be promoting a similar code here. Please do get in touch or come and talk to us at the various events we attend such as the Reading Cycle Festival in September.