Protest Ride on 23 March


Protest Ride 23 March 2019

In response to a series of 25 accidents injuring cyclists at just ONE junction, Reading Cycle Campaign have decided the time has come to protest.

Reading Borough Council have failed to take any action whatsoever since 2012 when we first alerted them to the trend in collisions.

This follows on from the design of the roundabout which we criticised for being unsafe when it was still a drawing 3 years earlier.

Here’s our plan:

What we’re doing

On Saturday 23 March at 3pm we will ride over the roundabout and through the station underpass en masse. We will do this repeatedly to make our point, and then convene to a place in the town centre for some socialising.

We would really like you to join us, and suggest we all dress as smart as we can. We would like us to be seen as ordinary folk on bikes, as opposed to cycle enthusiasts.

We are meeting in Christchurch Meadows near the north side of the new Christchurch Bridge.

On the same day the park will be the finish of the London to Reading bike ride, so with the presence of hundreds of other cyclists there will be a phenomenal presence in the park, we may even get some new recruits!

I expect to ride around for an hour or so, through the station underpass in ones and twos, so as to demonstrate that it is perfectly safe to do so without troubling pedestrians and other users.

We’ll regroup and ride to Friar Street, Station Road and Blagrave Street before getting back to the troublesome roundabout, and back through the station underpass.

We’ll have lots of publicity in advance, and notices going up to let drivers know what we’re doing and why.

Why we’re doing it

This is very closely linked to the prohibition of cycling in the underpass, where we walked through during our last protest ride when we objected to the design of Christchurch bridge.

On that occasion, despite a huge response to the consultation on the design, the Council went ahead and made it shared use. Almost everybody who responded to the Council, both pedestrians and cyclists, asked for segregation.

In busy periods that bridge is so difficult to cycle over, unless you want to ride at walking speed, regular commuters experience quicker journey times if they cycle over Reading Bridge.

Then they come to the notorious Vastern Road Roundabout where all the accidents happen.

The Council has a bloody hand in this. If the bridge was easier for cyclists to use and the station underpass was also legal for cycling, then this would provide a safe and fast route over the Thames and under the railway.

The only way you can do this now is either via Vastern Road or Caversham Road. Neither are fit for the average cyclist. And, of course, it isn’t obvious just how dangerous this roundabout is until you get hit.

What’s been done isn’t enough

Despite nearly £900 million spending on Reading station, and over £6 million on the Christchurch Bridge, transport planners in Reading have singularly failed in providing a safe link into the town centre from Caversham.

Cyclists, who, of course, can solve many of the congestion air quality and public health issues faced by our town, have been been barred from the station underpass, because it is too low!

This is not a safety issue: the recommendation (widely ignored everywhere else) is for comfort, and a tunnel of that length should be 2.7m high if cyclists are to use it.

So on that basis, (it is 2.4m high) we have been banned, although we can walk through. The nonsense is for it to achieve the same standard of comfort for pedestrians, it should be 2.6m high, so why didn’t RBC ban pedestrians?

No good reason! Other than their longstanding inability to make the town cycle friendly.

So as the station underpass is supposedly off limits, the law abiding cyclist uses a roundabout that knocks them down like skittles.

Action is needed

I asked the Lead Councillor for Transport to lift the ban, but so far all I have is some sympathy and a suggestion that he asks officers to look at ways of permitting cyclists.

Now, there is never going to be a physical change, so it is only ever going to be a moral one; if RBC wanted to (or the Lead Councillor did) they would simply pledge to remove the ban.

They haven’t done this, so it is time to object more forcefully.

13 thoughts on “Protest Ride on 23 March

  1. IMHO very foolish to include the protest against the underpass, especially as it involves a clear breach of a regulation (NB a regulation which, I agree, is stupid)

    The roundabout is a matter of life or death which most people will have sympathy with. Cycling through the underpass will just antagonize people.

    1. The plan is to ride peacefully and respectfully through the subway one at a time to show it isn’t any more of a problem than riding over the bridge which was designed specifically for shared use. We do not intend to antagonise our allies who walk through there.

    2. Free form cycling in the underpass is scary for visually impaired pedestrians. If we allow cycling then it MUST be seggrgated.

  2. Have you asked the council why they have got the ban how long for or is it permanent ? Have you had a meeting with highways planning? Have you had a walk through your suggestions on the ground level with the council explaining each detail? Have you tried a co working together approach with council without it turning into a demand ? Have you collected dates and times and exactly where these accidents have occurred ? Plus what vehicles were involved ? how did the accident /s happen reports.? and prepared them for the council to see.? Have you made official complaints into the council ?and at what stage did you get to with those complaints have you then if not satisfied put your detailed complaint plus response’s from council to the independent ombudsman? if all these avenues have been done then you have a legitimate case for action against council.

    1. We have raised all the issues you mentioned although not in the format you suggest many times. The ban is permanent until the council changes its mind. We have asked them to do so repeatedly. We have a regular meeting with RBC officers and councillors ( the cycling forum ) where we have raised these issues as often as we can. We have also written directly to the council with our concerns. The data on the crashes is publicly available on Crashmap and is also available in a much higher level of detail to the council as the Highway authority. We discussed this and the lack of action at a meeting of cycle campaign members and the decision to hold a protest ride was agreed. The majority of the ride is on public highway so there is no reason for us not to ride in a group if we want. The only possibly contentious issue is riding through the underpass. We are giving participants to option to ride through as an act of civil disobedience but they must do so very carefully and in small numbers being especially mindful of respecting pedestrians. The purpose of this is to show that there is no real danger to anyone compared to the very real danger cyclists face in cycling in the roundabout. There is no more likelihood of conflict than there is on Christchurch bridge which was especially designed for shared use and is in that respect no different to the underpass.
      Our hope is the council will respond to make the conditions for cyclists much better than they are now, especially now they have declared a climate emergency and have to act quickly to achieve their new objectives.

  3. I think this is a brilliant idea so I’ll be there. I am amazed you guys don’t do protest rides more often because something needs to wake the silly old sods up.

  4. I’m hoping to come along on Saturday. I’m naughty I’m afraid and always cycle through the underpass. I do so at a pace a tad faster than walking speed and I have never noticed anyone batting a eyelid. I’m am mindful of pedestrians and I don’t see it as a dangerous issue. Crossing the pedestrian bridge imho is more dangerous for both pedestrians and cyclists because you need to negotiate lose dogs or dogs on extendable leads, walkers that drift across the path, children that have a mind of their own, conversationalists that just stop right in front of you, walkers that can’t hear your bell. As for the vastern road roundabout, I wouldn’t even attempt it!!!!

    1. Please do not ride on the underpass. Some pedestrians who cannot see you will be terrified.

  5. I cycle over Christchurch bridge every morning and evening and it’s fine. I also cycle carefully and considerately under the station underpass every day with no hassle from anyone.

    No need to use Vastern Road Roundabout at all. There are lots of shared spaces – just be considerate. I’m a pedestrian cyclist and driver when I need to be.

  6. Just got knocked off my bike on Vastern Roundabout this evening. Some cuts and bruises torn jacket and broken lights but could have been so much worse. I’ll be joining you on Saturday!

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