Active Travel Fund – Bath Road Next
The Active Travel Fund (ATF) is the Department of Transport’s fund for local authorities to create Active Travel (walking & cycling) infra-structure. RBC has now backed away from its previous idea of raising transport funds by demand manage-ment (charging), so the ATF is pretty much the only show in town for funding cycle infrastructure.
The Active Travel Fund is not spread equally among local authorities up and down the country; funds have to be bid for in a beauty contest of proposed infrastructure schemes. The more ambitious Councils, who look to provide meaningful, quality cycle routes, are the ones who get allocated the most cash. For the six Unitary Authorities that make up Berkshire the allocations in the recent third tranche of ATF funding were:
So well done Wokingham and Slough (£10 million!) – let’s hope this money makes a real difference in those areas.
In 2021 RBC drew up concepts for four cycle schemes on strategic routes and secured ATF funding for one of these, a segregated cycle route along Shinfield Road. That scheme should start being constructed this summer according to the Council’s timetable. In the latest round of ATF funding the £1.3m allocated to Reading was for cycle lanes on Bath Road extending down Castle Street and over the roundabout with the IDR.
The Bath Road scheme was the Reading Cycle Campaign’s top pick of the four potential schemes consulted on in 2021, and it’s welcome that this has now secured funding. Our focus now will be to make sure that the scheme is as cycle-friendly as it can be. The Council will consult on the scheme; it has a duty to do so.
But consulting is not always the same as listening, and we hope to secure an early meeting with the designers to ensure the scheme has full stakeholder (i.e. cyclists) support.
RBC has a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan that spans a 10-year period up to 2030 and includes an ambitious cycle network plan. We now have two schemes funded; however, unless the pace of funding and delivery is picked up it’s hard to see this network being completed within our lifetimes.
Wokingham – Close Pass Campaign
Motorists on a busy road in Wokingham town were taught a surprise lesson in overtaking cyclists safely in April thanks to a joint initiative between Wokingham Borough Council and Thames Valley Police.
Those motorists spotted passing too closely were pulled over and advised to leave more room in future or risk being fined and getting penalty points on their licence. Wokingham’s ‘My Journey’ active travel team also offered some education while giving away free cycling-related goodies.
Six motorists were stopped during the ‘close pass’ session and the police also checked that their driving licences and motor insurance were valid. Three more were stopped for mobile phone offences while driving and one cyclist was stopped for going through a red light!
Under new rules in the Highway Code, drivers should leave at least 1.5m when passing cyclists – or 2m if either passing above 30mph or at any speed in a long vehicle. Cyclists are also advised to ride at least 0.75m from the nearside kerb where they can.
Reading Borough Council Elections
In May we saw elections for all 46 council seats in Reading Borough. Labour increased its majority and now holds exactly two thirds of the council seats. The Greens became the second largest party with 7 seats, nudging the Conservatives into third position.
Long serving Councillor Tony Page continues his enduring tenure as the town’s transport supremo. Interestingly his role has now changed its name from Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment Planning and Transport to Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport. With his refocused brief we look forward to continuing to work with Councillor Page to make Reading a cycle-friendly town.