Chairman's Letter

Chairman’s Letter Winter 2023/24


Dear RCC members

Reasons to be Cheerful!

With the press and media full of the most depressing news, I feel a real need to find reasons to be cheerful.  Perhaps I can find some in the world of cycling if I look in the right places. 

Although we have a Prime Minister whose preferred mode of transport is by helicopter, and who has obviously decided that the car driver vote might just keep him in power, there are more than a few signs of a real change for the better, especially in our local area.

Cllr John Ennis

Your committee had originally invited Reading’s Mayor, Tony Page, to our AGM, but he declined and sent Cllr John Ennis in his place, who has taken over from Tony as Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport. He braved, what must have seemed to him, a pack of howling wolves at the meeting.

He impressed us by his commitment to Net Zero and his support for cycling. It turns out that he is a regular cyclist, commuting from home to work. He was certainly well aware of the problems faced by cyclists on the Oxford Road, even if he could not satisfy many of the questioners from the floor. Perhaps they can never be satisfied.

I suggested to him that he might like to come and cycle the new Shinfield Road Scheme with us to see how it was coming on and whether there are any lessons to be learnt for future schemes such as Castle Hill. He readily agreed and we met up at the entry to the University one rainy Saturday morning with three other committee members.

The scheme is far from complete and as John Lee has pointed out on several occasions, the plans for the signage are far from satisfactory. We discovered several worrying things, such as poor or non-existent drainage and raised kerbs at the entrance and exits to the paths.

However, the most significant short-coming was the complete absence of any provision for cyclists at the University entrance. To his credit, Cllr Ennis has agreed to take this up with the scheme’s designers along with a list of other comments from the committee members who took part. I trust that this will be just the start of a more fruitful relationship with RBC and that we will get to be consulted at any early stage on cycle related issues.

The next reason to be cheerful also came from the AGM, where we welcomed three new committee members on board. Keith Collyer has agreed to take on the role of Membership secretary and Kat Heath and Sam Hatfield have been co-opted as well.

I am especially pleased that Kat has joined us, as her enthusiasm has driven Kidical Mass forward since she arrived in Reading last year. With a full committee and a growing membership, the Campaign feels to be in a good place.

As you will read at the beginning of the newsletter, we have secured a grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Community Fund. We are going to use this to purchase bike marking kits which we will be able to offer to members and others at the events that we attend. Susan Children is to be complimented on seeing the opportunity and putting in the bid which turned out to be successful.

The final reason to be cheerful is that I have a new bike. OA stands either for old age or for osteo-arthritis and I confess to both. Pedalling uphill was becoming quite painful at times and my first attempt at converting an older bike to electric drive was not a success, so I raided the piggy bank and bought a lovely bright green bike with a step through frame and most importantly a torque sensor.  

I think it was the cadence sensor on the conversion that caused me most trouble. It would kick in with full power and I found myself free-wheeling then braking all the time. The torque sensor feeds in the power much more gradually and it feels like a normal riding experience. I dismantled the conversion, gave the bike to the Bike Kitchen to sell, and fitted the kit to my daughter’s bike, and she is over the moon with it.  ‘Chacun a son gout’ as the French might say.

Joe Edwards
RCC Chairman

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