Reading’s Biggest Ever Road Repair Programme

At the end of 2019 residents were given the opportunity to participate in a consultation on Reading Borough Council’s 2020/21 budget.

In the introduction to the consultation RBC’s Labour Leader Jason Brock stated: “I know you think road surfaces are in a poor condition. This budget is proposing Reading’s biggest ever road repair programme with £9million on new road surfaces, prioritising residential streets.”

In summarising the responses to this consultation RBC concluded: “In terms of sustainable transport options, the results confirm that more needs to be done to support people who want to switch to using the bus or to start cycling or walking.”

In mid-March RBC released two lists of roads that would be resurfaced in the next 3 years. The heralded £9million splurge is being spent on 523 minor and residential roads, with just £0.8m on 51 sections of major roads (i.e. the town’s A roads and B roads).

Reading’s official cycle network comprises the 13 branded routes shown in the Council’s Cycling in Reading map. The good news is that the roads listed for resurfacing do cover various parts of Reading’s cycle network. The bad news is that some of the worst roads on the cycle network are inexplicably missing from the list.

So whilst several cul-de-sacs with perhaps a dozen houses will be treated, the town end of Oxford Road and St Mary’s Butts – perhaps the worst key route for cyclists – are ignored.

Oxford Road and St Mary's Butts

Oxford Road and St Mary’s Butts, where there is very poor road surfaces

Whilst the various Crescents, Closes, Mews and Gardens dotted around Reading will be resurfaced, Whiteknights Road, part of Cycle Route R20 and peppered with potholes which being less than 5cm deep do not warrant repair, is left to deteriorate.

Our view is that a road repair programme is long overdue, but it should prioritise those road users most affected by the Reading’s potholed and rutted roads. It should prioritise those roads where a decent road surface would encourage sustainable travel.

With this in mind we launched an on-line petition at the end of February calling on RBC to prioritise road repairs on those roads which make up its designated and branded cycle network. Thanks to all our supporters who signed.

St Mary's Butts road surface

St Mary’s Butts road surface

Our view is that a road repair programme is long overdue, but it should prioritise those road users most affected by the Reading’s potholed and rutted roads. It should prioritise those roads where a decent road surface would encourage sustainable travel. With this in mind we launched an on-line petition at the end

To follow this up Reading Cycle Campaign was due to speak at the Council’s Strategic Environment Planning and Transport Committee, at which the proposed road repair programme was to be approved.

However, just minutes before our plea to fully consider the cycle network could be presented, all Council meetings were cancelled in the wake of Covid-19.

Instead we have written to the Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport requesting that those parts of the cycle network that are in poor condition are not overlooked by the road repair programme.

So perhaps now is a good time to high-light Cycling UK’s advice on what you should do if you hit a pothole. This lists 10 steps to help keep you safe and maximise your chances of successfully claiming compensation, including advice on gathering evidence and instructing a solicitor: www.cyclinguk.org/what-should-i-do-if-i-hit-pothole.

Keith Elliott
RCC Secretary

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