Traffic in Wokingham has been causing a headache for Wokingham Borough Council (WoBC) because of delays in the project to renovate the market square. With the road closed from Peach Street to Broad Street, traffic is diverted and jams are even worse than usual. This lead to a petition on the WoBC website, which got over 2000 signatures and a debate in full Council.
WoBC has promised to involve people in resolving the situation so we shall see what changes. In my view, the fundamental problem in Wokingham is that too many people choose to drive and there isn’t space to build more roads for them. Having seen the Southern Distributor Road, it cannot take significant traffic from the town centre without making life in Montague Park unpleasant.
The only real space available for another road would be from Barkham Road through to Woosehill Spine Road, but that would go down like a lead balloon with all who (like me) live on Woosehill.
I can only hope that the situation will make WoBC and local people realise that Wokingham cannot build its way out of trouble. We need better buses and better walking and cycling routes so that there are fewer private cars on the existing roads.
The Wokingham MP, John Redwood, recently strayed from his usual EU polemics into a thoughtful blog post on the future of transport, speculating on the rise of self-driving cars and the congestion caused by parking: (http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2017/12/29/personal-travel/).
Unfortunately for him, some of the dedicated readers of his blog perceived this as a veiled threat to the Right of the British Motorist to drive wherever and whenever she/he wants. Cue the squeal of brakes and some soothing words including ‘the use of a car is essential’ and ‘bypasses’.
I’d like to thank the Cycling UK/CTC members who attended the Wokingham Borough (WoBC) planning committee considering the Arborfield Relief Road. The road will sever Swallowfield Lane, a useful cycle route linking Wokingham with the more rural roads of West Berkshire.
Following our representations, it seems WoBC have made some changes to the proposed design, so I hope the effect of the road will not be too detrimental.
WoBC has now also submitted its planning application for the next part of the South Wokingham Distributor Road from Montague Park over the Wokingham-Bracknell railway line. This has 3m shared-use paths on both sides, which I feel is the minimum acceptable facility for cycling.
I have suggested that the paths should be widened to 3.5m on both sides because there is space; this would reduce the risk of conflict between people walking and people cycling if it does become a popular route.
WoBC will be submitting more planning applications for roads during 2018, including the Winnersh Relief Road and parts of the North Wokingham Distributor Road. Please let me know your thoughts about how these could encourage cycling, and please take part in the consultations when they happen.
Finally for WoBC, some good news. WoBC have fixed the drainage problem on the new shared-use path along the Emm Brook from Smiths Walk to Kingfisher Bridge, and there is even a new sign to point you from the bridge to Woosehill.
I have submitted comments for RCC to central Government consultations on major and strategic roads (busy Aroads), examples within the Reading area being the A33 and A3290/A329(M). The consultations mentioned cycling, and my response asked that policies for major and strategic roads should be designed to increase cycling, and make cycling safer and faster.
Including this as a specific target will encourage Highways England, and local Councils, to design schemes that cater for people who cycle and not just for those who use their own car.
Peter Howe, WoBC campaigner for RCC