WoBC Campaigner Autumn 2017 Report

Trials and tribulations of Chapter 12

Wokingham Borough Council (WoBC) has submitted its planning application to itself for the Arborfield Relief Road and the comments I made during consultation have been ignored.

I will single out Chapter 12 of the application, which suggests that Swallowfield Road is a poor route for cyclists when in reality it is an attractive country road with less traffic than the alternatives. It is a useful route for getting from Wokingham to Swallowfield, Grazeley and Stratfield Saye and even Wokingham Bikeathon uses it in their event aimed at people who cycle infrequently.

Chapter 12 goes on to suggest that the proposed route to cross the Relief Road for people walking or cycling along Swallowfield Road will be to go along the shared use pavement for a couple of hundred metres, up to the new bridge and then back down to Swallowfield Road on the other side. This is an increase in distance of about a factor of ten so would be a significant severence of a walking/cycling route.

Chapter 12 views this as negligible! The chapter was prepared by WSP (the transport consultant that WoBC regularly use), so if any of our members works there I would be happy for them to forward my views to whichever of their colleagues is responsible. I look forward to hearing from them.

WoBC has also consulted on its Air Quality Action Plan for Wokingham and Twyford. It is about as ambitious as our current Government expects one to be so is unlikely to achieve much.

However, I fully support the proposal to investigate a 20mph speed limit in Wokingham centre, and to review on-street parking. The high off-peak traffic speeds and sporadic on-street parking in Wokingham Town Centre make it unwelcoming to people who cycle.

The final WoBC consultation was on the first stage of South Wokingham Distribution Road, which crosses the Waterloo to Reading railway from Montague Park. The proposal is for shared-use foot/cycle ways on both sides of the road. Because of the bridge, I am slightly concerned that people cycling are likely to be going fast on the downhill sides, which will lead to conflict with people walking.

However, I expect few people will choose to walk along the road so I didn’t oppose the design. A better solution would have been an on-road cycle lane on the downhill sides of the bridge.

I also wrote to The Wokingham Paper following a rant from one of their regular correspondents about how congestion is all the fault of people cycling. He demanded cycling on the pavement, in direct opposition to the usual letters in local papers! Please let me know of any negative letters about cycling and I will respond (it would be great if you do too).

That brings me to my final note. Thanks to the campaign members who’ve got in touch about my last couple of articles and also to the one who has written to Matt Rodda (new MP for Reading East) about cycling in Woodley. Making Wokingham Borough cycle-friendly will take a lot of work, and the more people involved the faster it will happen.

Peter Howe

WoBC campaigner for RCC

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