Dear RCC members,
My diary for the week
I watched the Panorama programme on the battle between drivers and cyclists Road Rage – Cars v Bikes. Some of the footage of accidents and near misses was pretty horrifying. The story of the two men who were killed by a car while out on a country ride and the heartbreak of their wives was very poignant. If you haven’t seen it yet, I strongly recommend you look it up on iPlayer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001dj03/panorama-road-rage-cars-v-bikes
An article in the Guardian caught my attention. It was written by a statistician working for the House of Commons Library. Her tales of how data is used, abused and just plain ignored by the government only served to deepen my cynicism about the motives of those who get into positions of authority in all walks of life. “I’ve made up my mind so don’t confuse me with the facts” is an attitude visible in many places, not just Westminster. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/nov/07/migration-railways-bad-data-british-politics-inaccurate-incomplete
I manned a stall for the Campaign at the University’s cycle day that Karen Robertson had organised along with Avanti Cycling. I love talking to young people, especially students who have chosen to come and study here from other countries. The young woman from the Ukraine was a particular delight to meet and although she must have felt it, she showed no sign of sadness about the fate of her home country. I could only wish her well.
A polite question from another student about where she might get her bike mended led to a terrifying tale tumbling out. She was cycling in London to get to see the Battersea fireworks when she had to stop in a narrow street to let vehicles come the other way. When they had passed she set off between the two lines of parked cars and as she reached the end a white van pushed past her and collected her rear wheel, knocked her off, did not stop and left her on the ground. It was two hours before anyone else stopped to offer her help.
The traffic sub-committee of Reading Borough Council were meeting, and one agenda item was to be a review of the Redlands area traffic calming scheme, about which I have written in the past. I applied to speak on the motion and turned up with John Lee for the start of the meeting. Watching local democracy in action is quite interesting, but it certainly put me in mind of the article I had read two days earlier.
Item 8 came up and to my surprise the Chair of the meeting called another Councillor to address the committee first. He was not a member of the committee but was elected last year to represent Redlands Ward and he had been to look at the scheme a few days earlier. He recounted how standing at the corner of Allcroft Road and Redlands Road, he had seen many cars using the wrong side of the road to turn the corner as a result of the chicane that had been placed there. He also mentioned he had seen an incident of road rage against a cyclist, which Panorama sadly did not record, and he told the committee how dangerous it all looked.
I could not have asked for a better introduction to my contribution to the debate. The committee voted to review that section uphill of Allcroft Road which must count as a small win. I have posted my report on the website if you would like to read what I said (see link). http://85-159-208-124.ip.linodeusercontent.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Traffic-Mgmt-Sub-Ctte-5min-Nov-2022.docx
My wife and I set off mid-morning to drive up north to visit family and it occurred to me that I had promised the Editor this article by today. So half the M40 section was spent scribbling notes in my barely readable, even by me, handwriting. However, I did get most of it done sitting in the hotel bedroom and honour was satisfied.
Other short items
A company called Pedal & Post run a cycle delivery scheme in Oxford and have contacted us as they are thinking of expanding and Reading seems a good bet. If anyone has any good business opportunities or contacts that might be useful, please get in touch with me or the company direct via: http://www.pedalandpost.co.uk
I am hosting the Campaign’s Christmas social, which will be a mince pie and sherry evening. Numbers will be limited to 20, so keep an eye for an email invitation for further details and book early to avoid disappointment.
The Reading Cycle Festival back in September seems a long time ago, but the Campaign had a stall and signed up quite a few new members. We certainly gave out a lot of cycle maps and swapped many tall tales of cycling past and future.
The Reading town centre cycle hub has progressed a little further and is expected to open sometime in 2023. We don’t have any idea if there will be any continuation funding or evaluation, regardless of how successful it will be. I’ll keep my thoughts to myself for now until we have something more concrete to report.
RBC has concluded the Redlands Road measures have not worked consistently, at least regarding those closer to the hospital. The Council acknowledges the installations there are dangerous, particularly for cyclists.
The Campaign will therefore be pressing the Council to meet and consult with us and local residents before deciding on any replacement measures. John Lee has already suggested to them traffic calming measures which are safer for cyclists than the ones they have previously chosen to implement.