Kidical Mass continues to go well. We run these sessions with Kat and her team in Reading and alternate months between Wokingham and Reading. Momentum is gradually building, and we are welcoming new people each month, whilst getting more regulars returning which is great to see.
A good Wokingham Kidical Mass event took place on 14 January, with a circular route from Elms Field in Wokingham town centre. Considering the weather was very wet and windy, we had a reasonable turnout of 30 hardy cyclists who completed the 3km ride and mostly stuck around for home-made cake and doughnuts at the end.
The next Wokingham Kidical mass event will be on Saturday 11 March. As far as possible the plan going forward will be to schedule them for 2pm on the second Saturday of every month, to make it easy for everyone to remember.
To keep up to date on everything Kidical mass, check out the website at https://kidicalmassreading.co.uk/ for regular updates.
The Tanhouse crossing in Wokingham is a bridge linking the area around the Carnival Hub area north of the railway to the area around Latimer/Ormonde Road to the South. For anyone familiar with it, it is currently two bridges, one of them scaffold, that cross each of the two railways lines into Wokingham.
The bridge is a potentially useful link between the south of the town centre and the main town centre (north of the railway). At present anyone not walking or cycling into the town either has to cross at the level crossing by the station, which is very congested and often shut.
Alternatively, they can go under the two railway bridges by Tesco on the Finchampstead Road, which are also both very busy and have narrow pavements for pedestrians and a lack of road space, making cycling hard.
Network Rail have submitted a design to rebuild these bridges and replace them with one bridge spanning the whole crossing. Unfortunately, their design is for a stepped bridge with no ramp access, making this inaccessible for anyone with mobility issues, most cyclists, people pushing prams or wheelchairs etc.
There has been a strong local campaign supported by several local councillors as well as WATCH (Wokingham Active Travel Community Hub) and me as the Wokingham RCC rep to oppose this design and push Network Rail to redesign the bridge with ramp access of a gradient suitable for all users. Belatedly as I write this report, I have heard through the Wokingham Today newspaper that our local MP Sir John Redwood has also written to Network Rail with his concerns, although I have not seen a copy of his letter.
I spoke alongside a member of the WATCH team at a Wokingham Borough Council meeting on 11 January in opposition of the design. As critical infrastructure Network Rail does not follow the usual planning process and the Council have little/no power to refuse the application.
However, thanks to some very strong Council opposition, Network Rail agreed to defer the application until the February meeting to allow the Council officers some time to work with them to hopefully come up with something more suitable.
As Network Rail’s own engineers say, this bridge is being built with a predicted lifespan of 120 years, so it is vital it is built right the first time as retrofitting, whilst apparently possible, is never going to be easy.
It seems crazy that in this day and age Network Rail can even be considering building a bridge that will exclude and discriminate against a large proportion of residents, who will never be able to use it due to their design.
Meeting with Cllr Charles Margetts
Along with a couple of members of WATCH, I met with Councillor Charles Margetts (Conservative member for Finchampstead North) to discuss his views on active travel and what could be improved in the Borough.
At present Wokingham is a Lib Dem controlled Council and therefore Cllr Margetts is in opposition. It was very kind of him to give up his time to talk to us and listen to our views.
As apolitical organisations it is very useful for the RCC and WATCH to maintain good relations with all Council political parties.
So far, we have had good discussions with independent Councillors, Conservative Councillors and Liberal Democrat Councillors and are also reaching out to get Labour’s views as well.
WoBC Campaigner for RCC