We hope everyone in Reading is staying safe during these unprecedented times.

Since the Government issued its original Covid-19 Pandemic and Stay at Home instructions, we’ve seen car use in our town drop, our air quality improve and the number of people who are actively travelling - by walking and cycling - increase.

Now, following the initial easing of the lockdown restrictions, Reading Borough Council’s Policy Committee (May 18th) has approved some temporary road changes (details below) which are based on the latest Government advice to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

The schemes are designed to encourage even more of Reading’s people to walk and cycle while also helping to maintain proper social distancing.

We in Reading East Conservatives, of course, wholeheartedly approve of the principle behind the changes, most of which should be in place by the end of June, but we do still have some reservations over the detail of how some of the schemes will be implemented; for example, the likely impact on wards such as Caversham, Thames, Peppard and Mapledurham north of the river - where there’s already very limited space - and the knock-on effects on road traffic and congestion levels by the closure of the inbound lane on Reading Bridge.

We’re also concerned over whether any of the changes may become permanent.

So, like the Council, we do want to make walking easier and cycling safer across the borough while maintaining the positive outcomes we’ve achieved so far, but while also minimising any potentially negative effects on other means of travel.

As we slowly start to emerge from this crisis, these schemes will impact on how we all use Reading’s roads to get back to work, to shop or to take our exercise. So we want to hear your views via our new Active Travel Survey, which you can take part in here:

The seven new road reallocation schemes approved by Reading Borough Council’s Policy Committee on May 18thare:

  • Gosbrook Road and Westfield Road: Due to the narrowness of pavements, the scheme will make Gosbrook Road (Westfield Road to Prospect Street) and Westfield Road (southbound) from Henley Road junction to Gosbrook Street one way, to increase the capacity for walking and cycling. Completion target of June 22nd.
  • Sidmouth Street: One way (northbound) for all traffic and introduce a new contra-flow cycle lane in the current southbound lane to increase space for pedestrians and cycle lanes. Completion target of June 29th.
  • Reading Bridge: Remove inbound lane and existing hatching to create both northbound and southbound cycle lanes. Planned to be introduced in coming weeks.
  • Oxford Road: New cycle and bus lanes.
  • Whitley Street Local Centre: Remove one traffic lane outbound and reallocate it to cyclists, alongside other improvements for pedestrians.
  • Southampton Street/Silver Street: Introduce cycle lanes through the removal of existing road hatching
  • Redlands Road: Introduce a southbound cycle lane (uphill) and cycle priority measures at Christchurch Green junction.

A series of further mid-term schemes - which are dependent on government funding - were also approved at the Policy Committee meeting. They include:

  • Blagrave Street: Introduction of a contraflow cycle lane between Town Hall Square and Reading Station.
  • Basingstoke Road: Review of the existing bus/cycle lanes and road hatching with upgraded bus priority at signals to introduce a “smart and sustainable corridor”.
  • London Road: Develop proposals for a westbound cycle route, potentially as a bus lane.
  • Wider use of 20mph limits: A number of proposals for new 20mph speed limits, pedestrian crossings and improved cycle facilities, reflecting the recent increase in walking and cycling.

Reading Conservatives will always support making active travel across our town easier for everyone.

For the benefit of all our road users, though, we need to make sure any schemes are designed and implemented in the most effective way possible and don’t, inadvertently, cause more congestion problems for Reading, negating the recent, positive environmental improvements we’ve seen since this crisis started.

So we want to hear from you…please take our Active Travel survey!

Jane Stanford-Beale, Cllr Peppard Ward

Deputy Leader

Conservative group spokesperson for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport

Mobile: 07795 807 249