A Cycle Forum meeting took place on 31 October with RBC, RCC and other representatives present. A range of issues were tabled:
We were informed about the highway maintenance procedures for repairing potholes and other defects. Apparently a slightly more flexible system is being introduced whereby the highway inspectors can report defects that could be a safety hazard for cyclists other than the 50mm (2in) deep by 300mm (1ft) size pothole that triggers prompt action, or 20mm deep on footways including shared-use paths.
This should help cyclists, but don’t expect good surfaces yet! Public complaints about defects are investigated, so keep on reporting them. Rectification of defects is dependent on the inadequate budgets Councils receive from government, or fund themselves.
The recent government budget’s extra £400m to rectify potholes across the country sounds large, but it is a fraction of the growing £12billion backlog of national highways maintenance.
The new Local Transport Plan and Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan will apparently have some focus on air quality. What’s proposed will be consulted on in January 2019, so watch that space.
Unfortunately, there has been little visible action on the NCN422 central or eastern sections. Some updated plans were included in the next day’s Traffic Management Sub-Committee that RCC did not attend; see the link http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/9616/Item09/pdf/Item09.pdf.
These include some improved plans particularly to the Wokingham Road section where a mandatory eastbound cycle lane (on carriageway) is now proposed, but still fails to remove some of the mainly University parking which would allow adequate widths for good cycling conditions.
Vastern Road Roundabout
Apparently some proposals to improve the road markings are still being considered by RBC, but are expected soon. This would be a start, but more changes need to be made to make this roundabout satisfactory for cyclists and other users.
Statistics on Crashmap show that a further seven cyclists suffered injuries here in collisions during 2017.
Town Centre Signing
Many cycle routes and shared-use paths are not signed in the town centre; these include the key routes of Market Place and Town Hall Square. The result is that cyclists do not know where they are allowed to go and pedestrians often criticise cyclists that are legally cycling on an inadequately marked route.
After RCC chasing this for three years, RBC now say they will provide the necessary signing. RCC has sent them an updated reminder list with details and pictures of the signs needed.
Cow Lane bridge works should be complete in January, but crossing facilities for cyclists and pedestrians onto the proposed shared-use path are inadequate. More and better crossings will be needed.
Planning and Cyclists
Cycling provision, or lack of it, in new developments is often a problem, but was not discussed at the Cycle Forum. Attempts to find out progress on major schemes, and to arrange meetings with the planners at RBC, have not been successful.
Key developments include Homebase, Civic Centre and Station Hill sites. Look at the Chatham Place development with no visible cycling infrastructure and imagine how well cyclists could have been incorporated.
RCC will try and arrange meetings with RBC to try and ensure that cycling is adequately considered and provided for.
John Lee, RBC Campaigner for RCC