Reading will receive around £1.5 million from the government for active travel schemes such as cycle lanes and widening pavements.

The government is providing an initial £225 million in emergency active travel funds for councils to adapt to the coronavirus crisis and indicated Reading Borough Council (RBC) will receive around £295,000.

The first round of funding will support the installation of temporary projects to help respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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RBC is then set to receive around £1.2 million in the larger second round of funding for long-term projects.

The council approved seven initial schemes on May 18, which are temporary but could become permanent if popular.

The first of these schemes, on Reading Bridge, is set to be complete on Friday.

Council leader Jason Brock has called the plans ‘a statement that we are serious about people in Reading being able to take advantage of active travel opportunities’.

But Reading’s Green Party group have described the council’s plans for cycling as “unambitious”.

Costs for the seven schemes were initially expected to be around £85,000, according to a council report, but estimates have since risen steeply.

After receiving the indicative funding allocation from the government, the council submitted its plan last Friday (June 5), bidding for £300,000 of funding for the seven schemes as well as another scheme along London Road.

The London Road scheme, a temporary westbound cycle route, which could be shared with buses, and could later be made permanent, was one of four medium-term schemes approved by the policy committee.

Further long-term schemes have also been outlined by the council.

The Department for Transport (DFT) wants the initial money to be spent on new infrastructure such as pop-up bike lanes, protected space for cyclists, wider pavements, safer junctions and bus-only corridors.

The amounts listed for each local authority are “indicative only and likely to vary”, the DfT said.

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Before receiving funding, authorities must submit satisfactory plans to the department.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for transport, has raised concerns that the government will not allow the council to seek support from consultants and that this will impact on long-term plans.

He said: “It is a tall order to suddenly give a council a lot of money and say you have to do it all in-house, particularly when a lot of staff have been diverted towards emergency works.”