The coronavirus problems are continuing but traffic levels on many roads are back to normal. Cycling numbers still seem to be well above previous levels, encouraged by the reluctance to use public transport as well as the positive publicity about cycling.
Active Travel Pop-up Cycle Schemes
Around the country many local authorities have been implementing pop-up cycle schemes. Reading has implemented their first tranche of schemes and is about to plan the second tranche, which will be physically segregated routes.
RBC Lack of Consultation
Unfortunately, there has been no consultation by the Council over their proposals, despite this being a perfect opportunity for the RCC suggestions and comments to be considered.
This lack of consultation has probably led to the result that cyclists have had a number of problems and concerns about some of the schemes. In particular the Westfield Road and Gosbrook Road one-way proposal.
This scheme was so bad that the RCC, the local residents’ action group and local Facebook campaigns united in opposition. This was covered by the local press, radio and TV, and resulted in the scheme being removed within a week.
Unfortunately, a lot of the Campaign’s time has been wasted on this ill-conceived scheme, as well as numerous other people’s time and £53k of RBC (or government?) funding.
No Cycle Forum meetings have been held, not even online, since before the start of COVID Lockdown. We look forward to the next Cycle Forum and hope that the Campaign’s input will be accepted on future schemes.
Still no action has taken place on correcting the important cycle signing in the town centre. These signs would be particularly useful to new cyclists who may be unclear about what routes they may use.
The Tranche 1 (completed) schemes and Tranche 2 (proposed) schemes are listed below, together with some comments. I am aware that many motorists are objecting to the cycle schemes, so we need to praise the good schemes while still pointing out the problems and improvements that should be made.
The RBC Tranche 1 Schemes
Most of the Tranche 1 schemes have been completed, they are listed below:
The one-way proposals for Gosbrook Road and Westfield Road with no cycling provision were implemented in August, but because of widespread objections from RCC, local residents, traders and motorists, all changes were removed.
Note that the long-awaited Tiger crossing over Gosbrook Road from the new Christchurch Bridge is now being proposed by RBC, see https://consult.reading.gov.uk/dens/gosbrook-road-crossing-lining-amendments/.
Reading Bridge and George Street
The central vehicle lane has been removed and advisory cycle lanes (on carriageway) provided in both directions. The removal of the centre southbound overtaking lane is welcomed as it has been a safety problem for cyclists for many years.
The advisory cycle lanes are only 1.2m wide, adjacent to 2.8m vehicle lanes, but without widening the bridge or narrowing the already narrow footways it is difficult to see how a better arrangement can be provided.
Almost continuous cycle lanes (on carriageway) from Norcot Road to Tilehurst Station are welcome. A pinch-point exists with a central refuge near Waitrose which ought to be rectified. Improvements from the town centre to Norcot Road have not been implemented yet; these are understood to be a separate scheme.
A two-way cycle track has been provided on the east side of the road instead of southbound traffic. This works better southbound, except for access from the town centre, but northbound access is unclear and exit at the north is not provided for. An extra stage to the signals and/or an ASL (advance stop line) at the north end is needed.
London Road and Silver Street
Southbound cycle lanes (on carriageway) are welcome. However, the wide junction over London Road/Crown Street has no cycle lane or markings for protection and route continuity. This needs to be improved.
Conversion of the nearside southbound lane to a cycle lane has not yet been provided.
The incorporation of cycle lanes (on carriageway) by removal of the hatched markings is welcome. RCC have been requesting this for at least a decade!
A 20mph speed limit and cycle symbols (only) have been provided.
The proposed west-bound cycle and bus lane has not appeared yet. Is there a need for a bus lane here? Is this scheme primarily a bus project for the park and ride, that can also be used by cyclists? If a cycle scheme it should cater for two-way cycling. It may be that this scheme is being transferred to Tranche 2?
The RBC Tranche 2 Schemes
These schemes have to be physically segregated to obtain government funding. The following schemes are proposed:
- Castle Hill
- Bath Road – Castle Hill to Berkeley Avenue
- Southampton Street – Crown Street to IDR
- Shinfield Road – Redlands Road to Elm Road.
- Forbury Road – Vastern Road to Kings Road
It is proposed that all these routes are to be two-way cycle tracks, on one side of the road, taking existing carriageway space. This can make access to and from the tracks difficult from the opposite side of the road. The junctions are also difficult for the designers to engineer.
Many of the two-way cycle tracks in busy areas had poor safety records, partly because motorists were not expecting cyclists to be making the movements they were, and because of the lack of clarity and understanding regards cyclists’ or motorists’ priority.
RCC are requesting to be consulted on the proposals as there will inevitably be a range of issues that need to be resolved in the design process.
London Road from A329 to Cemetery Junction. This proposal is for a westbound bus/cycle lane. It appears to be primarily for the new park and ride buses at Thames Valley Business Park and not an active travel scheme. If it was primarily for cyclists, it would have a two-way provision.
RBC Coordinator for RCC