Chairman's Letter

Chairman’s Letter, Summer 2023


Dear RCC members

I have to admit that I have not been doing too much cycling over the last couple of months, probably not doing enough if the truth be told. There are a few reasons for this, some better than others, but the onset of OA (osteoarthritis not old age) and the Spring weather are among the more significant. Both add significantly to the misery that cycling around Reading has become these days as a result of the state of the roads.

Neither of the two bikes I use most regularly have any sort of suspension built in. This didn’t matter in my younger days as my body seemed to absorb the bumps and vibrations, but now with deteriorating knees and a stiff back I am made aware of just how uneven the roads have become. The recent heavy rains have washed away loose pieces of tarmac and have made the existing potholes deeper. The Council did come and mend one just outside my house a few days ago, but left many more untreated, some of which are far worse, including this horror on Addington Road (see photo).

I have written before about the malign effects of traffic calming around the hospital – this is just another one to add to the list. We believe this one in question has a ramp steeper than allowed in the regulations. This leads to vehicles straddling the cushion and eroding the sides. The heavy rains then wash away the broken tarmac leaving gaping gashes such as these.

If cars are badly parked alongside this speed cushion, avoiding the hole can be difficult, especially if there is traffic coming in the other direction. “Ah! but the injuries if you are hit by a car travelling at 20mph are less severe than 30mph” is what I am told when I complain about traffic calming, but I don’t want to be hit at any speed, thank you. I just want to be able to cycle without having to worry about avoiding cushions, humps, chicanes, cars driving on the wrong side of the road and all the holes in the deteriorating roads I use. The best thing the Council could do is to give me a decent road surface to cycle on.

As I write this in early May, we are still waiting on news from RBC on two major cycling projects. The lease for the cycle hub is still being negotiated by their legal team and the last couple of update meetings have been cancelled. Dr Street at the University has recruited another research student to do some more work on evaluating the project, but we have not yet seen the report from the one that was done last year. I feel even more keenly that if the hub ever comes into existence, RBC should commission an inquiry into how projects like this can be carried out more successfully and how their value for money can be assessed. Goodness knows how many man hours have been wasted so far in fruitless meetings.

The work on the Shinfield Road cycle super-highway proceeds at a gentle pace. Some sections have now been finished and I saw someone actually cycling on a section alongside the University. He was going the wrong way and then jumped onto the pavement when it ended. We have not had answers yet to our questions to RBC about the status of the paths/ tracks and there looks to be another couple of years of building works before the whole scheme is complete.  

I am not sure whether the cyclist would have been within his rights to cycle in the wrong direction, as we assume that the lanes will be one-way only, but have had no confirmation yet. What I do know is that the road width has been considerably reduced and that any cyclist who chooses to ride with the road traffic, rather than use the new facilities, will be even more squeezed than before.

Joe Edwards
RCC Chairman

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