I have to start by giving credit to Wokingham Active Transport Hub (WATCH), a group as the name suggests set up to promote active travel in the Borough.
WATCH have been very effective in arranging meetings with and developing rapport with Councillors and in particular their officers as well as the outside contractors brought in to plan and implement travel planning and a lot of the news and developments mentioned are from their hard work.
Probably the main focus for active travel groups in Wokingham at the moment is around the Local Travel Plan (LTP) and Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) updates that Wokingham Borough Council (WoBC) is in the process of developing.
It is great that WoBC is updating this plan as the last one was developed pre-2011 and therefore is now quite out of date.
Anyone interested in helping develop cycling or walking can search for this and comment on an interactive map by searching for ‘Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan for Wokingham’ on your chosen search engine. It is a very simple thing to do, and all comments will hopefully help the changes made over the next few years so please go on and comment.
In the last couple of years there has been quite a shift in how cycling provision should be implemented and therefore all facilities going forward should where at all possible be compliant with LTN 1/20 standards.
This would be a huge step forward over the designs that have led to what we currently have in place. Unfortunately, as mentioned in previous articles on the Borough’s schemes, major projects that have not been built but were designed before this guidance came out, such as the South Distributor Road (SDR) and Western Gateway Roundabout, will not be LTN 1/20 compliant – in my opinion a major missed opportunity for WBC.
To give WoBC credit (as I always try to!), they and the contractor WSP have allowed members of the WATCH group to come and comment in meetings on the design of the LCWIP and the initial routes audit being undertaken across the Borough and if this advice and expertise from local cyclists is taken on board and helps what is designed this will be a very positive step.
Another focus of the LCWIP was initially on greenways in the Borough and whilst this is welcomed by cyclists and walkers, we have been trying to show how these are a good addition to, as opposed to a replacement, for direct cycleways alongside existing roads.
In my opinion they are preferred by Councils as they are cheap and easy to implement and do provide a good resource, but these alone will not reduce the congestion by the numbers the Council’s own calculations require to meet their climate change targets.
On the subject of climate change and after attending a very successful Climate Change march event in Reading where I had the chance to meet the very engaging MP Matt Rodda (I didn’t see any sign of Wokingham MP John Redwood, although maybe I missed him!), who complimented me on the bike I had ridden into Reading on!
I am still astounded to see that despite WoBC declaring a Climate Emergency, they still feel the best way to address this is to invest huge amounts of money in road building with a fraction dedicated to cycling and walking.
It seems to be a pattern that many organisations talk about net zero and climate neutrality and then go and completely oppose that with their actions but that is a discussion for another forum.
WoBC Campaigner for RCC