Southcote has a new 20 mile an hour speed limit, and various measures to reduce traffic issues, and make it marginally more pleasant for cyclists.
This is a success for the cycle campaign, as it was ALL OUR IDEA!
I kid you not. Way back a bunch of us turned out to ride around the estate with Councillor Ennis.
He arrived on his daughter’s bike and gamefully pedalled around the estate.
He witnessed first hand what impact parked cars have on cyclists. He felt the fear as a bus driver forced his bus past at a pedestrian refuge.
He felt the intimidation as a truck driver overtook on the wrong side of the keep left sign at speed in his impatience to get past 10 cyclists.
We made a lot of suggestions, and none of it came to pass, but a while later we had the opportunity to consult on making changes to traffic in the area. I briefed half a dozen neighbours about what could happen.
You have to realise that most people drive or are driven. They don’t often have any idea that things could be better, they just know that cycling and walking isn’t for them.
My doctor’s surgery is a 3 minute bike ride. I’ve seen several of my neighbours there over the years. The chemist is a further 1 minute 30 seconds away on a bike.
They often leave the surgery, get back in their cars, spend 2 or 3 minutes negotiating the car park and driving to Coronation Square and parking again. They have long since got out of the habit of walking or cycling. They just never think about it.
So some casual conversations with them, and they duly went to the consultations held just down the road. Fortunately there was loads of car parking for them.
Then the results, and at the church hall again the car park was packed. I was the only single person to cycle there.
There isn’t any cycle parking, but there are some railings. Yet there are several bays marked out to keep all the cars neatly lined up on a piece of tarmac bigger than the land occupied by the hall itself.
The Councillor was here again, but so defensive, encouraging people to object to the proposals if they didn’t like them. A good salesman could have been pointing out all the benefits, but instead it was all about perceived inconvenience. I left, early, and not hopeful.
And then along came the final plans to be implemented, and they are almost identical to the things we asked for on that bike ride. 20 mile an hour speed limits, pedestrian refuges replaced with zebra crossings, massive reduction in on street car parking.
So naturally I am pretty chuffed. I am even more chuffed that several of my neighbours are keen on them – they told me so at the doctors surgery. When they got out of their cars. And again at the chemists. Perhaps when the work finally gets done they will be cycling there.
And if you are a transport officer at RBC, faced with swingeing budget cuts, here’s a tip. Save on your costly exercises. Just ask the Reading Cycle Campaign. We’re free, and we have a vision for the future of Reading which will solve all your traffic problems.
Adrian Lawson RCC Chairman