The subway under the railway tracks at Reading station is at last going to be legal for cyclists to use.
When the old railway subway was reopened in 2013 Reading Borough Council took the decision to prohibit cycling through the subway.
The reason given was that the subway ceiling was too low.
True, the ceiling was lower than the design guidance for constructing new subways, but it wasn’t so low that it would cause an impediment to cycling, providing you weren’t on a penny-farthing.
Government guidance for Cycle Infrastructure Design explicitly states with respect to existing subways that: “The restricted height or width available should not lead to automatic rejection of a proposal to permit cycling. It may present the best available option if potential risks to users can be managed.”
Whatever the actual or perceived risks of cyclists bumping their heads, all that is now in the past. Many of the ‘low’ ceiling panels have fallen off or been vandalised and in September this year the Council’s Traffic Management Sub-Committee resolved to make the necessary Traffic Regulation Orders to permit cycling.
The plan is for the lowest ceiling panels to be removed and the structural concrete ceiling above ‘tidied up’. The height of the subway will still be below the guidelines for new subways, but after 10 years common sense has prevailed.
A decision on how the subway is best shared between cyclists and pedestrians is still to be made. This may involve speed restrictions or possibly segregation.