WORK begins this week to roll out the next phase of new cycle lanes in Reading to make travelling by bike easier in response to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Road markings for new cycle lanes will be put in place along the Oxford Road – from Norcot Road to the edge of the borough boundary to the west – Southampton Street, Silver Street, Mount Pleasant and Whitley Street. The new cycle lanes are expected to be open for use by cyclists by the end of July. Plans for a brand new cycle scheme along Redlands Road is also in the final stages of development and expected to be implemented in early August.
The raft of temporary new cycle lanes form part of Reading Borough Council’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic, and is in line with the Government’s Active Travel programme. With social distancing measures likely to remain in place for some considerable time, the Council has moved to design a series of schemes to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists, which recognises the on-going restrictions on the capacity of local public transport.
The Council quickly implemented temporary signs and markings throughout the town centre, reminding visitors about the need to socially distance. Similar measures are a being rolled out to other busy local centres across the town.
Temporary, advisory cycle lanes have also been implemented across Reading Bridge to provide an additional cycle link across the Thames by removing one lane of traffic. While Reading Bridge closed in late June for Southern Gas Networks (SGN) to replace two gas pipes, it re-opened again three weeks ahead of schedule yesterday (19th July). This means both northbound and southbound cycle lanes have now been reinstated and are fully operational.
With Reading Bridge re-opening three weeks ahead of schedule, it means that the introduction of the previously announced new temporary one way systems along Gosbrook Road (Westfield Road to Prospect Street), and Westfield Road (Henley Road junction to Gosbrook Road), to increase capacity for walking and cycling, and with segregated new cycle facilities, can go live next week.
A new one way system at Sidmouth Street – with the introduction of a segregated new two-way cycle lane – is expected to become operational by the end of July. The introduction of this scheme was delayed due to difficulties sourcing the necessary equipment, arising from the heavy demands from scores of local authorities across the country all introducing active travel schemes at the same time:
Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“The introduction of these new advisory cycle lanes forms part of the Council’s response to on-going social distancing guidelines, and the reduced capacity on public transport, which means it is essential we create more space for people to walk and cycle safely.
“As with the previously announced schemes on Reading Bridge, Gosbrook and Westfield Roads and Sidmouth Street, it is important to note these are temporary schemes which may be made permanent at a later stage, once we see how well they operate and only after detailed public consultation.
“The re opening of Reading Bridge three weeks early, following work to replace two gas mains by SGN, means we can now get on with implementing the new one way system and segregated cycle lanes on Gosbrook Road and Westfield Road. We hope this will be fully operational by the end of the month, in addition to the dedicated new cycle lanes in Sidmouth Street.”
Reading Borough Council is developing a dedicated new webpage as a point of information for all of the Council’s Active Travel schemes. This will go live in the coming days and can be found at www.reading.gov.uk/activetravel