TWO 'missing link' cycle lanes which will allow for easier travelling by bike is the focus of the council's new bid to government as part of its Covid-19 response.

The cycle lanes segregated from traffic and crossing the IDR form the centrepiece of the plans, and both the Oracle and Castle Hill roundabouts would be partially redesigned, with road space reallocated from general traffic to accommodate the new segregated lanes.

These improvements would link to existing cycle infrastructure and provide continuous and uninterrupted routes to and from Southampton Street and Bath Road/Castle Hill, across the busy IDR junctions and into and out of the town centre.

READ MORE: New cycle lanes 'UNSAFE' say cyclist

Reading Borough Council's (RBC) 'Tranche 2' Active Travel bid to the Department for Transport (DfT) was submitted on Friday (August 7) and is made up of these two ‘core’ schemes and three further supplementary schemes, in addition to a package of promotional activities.

Indicative funding of £1.179m for Reading will only cover the two main schemes at Southampton Street and Bath Road/Castle Hill.

The council now intends to lobby the DfT and government ministers for extra funding to progress the full programme of improvements for cyclists.

The successful delivery of the new cycle schemes would supplement a series of temporary new council schemes which are already operational as part of the phase one of the council’s Active Travel programme, introduced in the wake of Covid-19 to encourage more travel by cycling.

Reading Chronicle:

The council’s full bid to government includes the following schemes:

  • Southampton Street and Oracle Roundabout (Pell Street – Inner Distribution Road/Bridge Street – Core Scheme) – Create a segregated cycle lane along Southampton Street, with changes at the junctions at either end, linking with existing cycle infrastructure through the reallocation of road space from general traffic. A key ‘missing link’ in the existing network, it will provide a continuous link between existing routes including NCN Routes 4 and 422, and the mandatory cycle lane recently been implemented in Phase One of the council’s Active Travel programme
  • Bath Road/Castle Hill (Southcote Lane – Inner Distribution Road/Castle Street – Core Scheme) – Running from the IDR to Russell Street, reallocate road space from general traffic to create a segregated lane for cyclists to and from the town centre. A further ‘missing link’ on the existing network. An additional scheme (Russell Street – Southcote Lane) if funding allows, would extend the route west, linking with the new NCN route 422 and connecting with existing routes west of the railway bridge. Both cyclists and pedestrians will benefit from the physically segregated route
  • Shinfield Road (Christchurch Green – Whitley Wood Road – additional scheme) Create a segregated two-way cycle lane, linking to the Phase One schemes on Redlands Road and Christchurch Road. A high-quality facility on a key route between South Reading and Royal Berkshire Hospital, the University of Reading, local centres and Reading town centre.
  • London Road (borough boundary to Cemetery Junction – additional scheme) Reallocate road space from general traffic to create an inbound shared bus and cycle lane. This will provide a key missing link with the shared bus and cycle route being implemented in Phase One on London Road outside of the RBH, and Wokingham Borough Council’s proposed shared bus and cycle route on London Road (up to Shepherds House roundabout).
  • Forbury Road/Vastern Rad (Watlington Street – Reading Bridge – additional scheme) Create a segregated two-way cycle lane by reallocating road space from general traffic on this section of the IDR. This will also provide further separation for pedestrians through lower volumes of cyclists using the existing shared pavement.

Reading Chronicle:

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Tony Page, RBC's lead councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said: "This is a very ambitious package of proposals for Reading to implement a series of fully segregated cycle routes by re-allocating road space from general traffic to cyclists in response to the ongoing pandemic.

"In the case of the core schemes at Southampton Street and Bath Road / Castle Hill, the schemes very much deliver key ‘missing links’ which would allow cyclists to travel to and from the Town Centre and across the busy IDR both uninterrupted and safely.

"The council has already put in place a series of temporary measures as part of Phase One of our Active Travel programme.

"While they have been widely welcomed, some of the feedback received was that completely segregated cycle lanes were needed to encourage less confident cyclists to switch to commuting by bike.

"This Tranche 2 bid to the DfT delivers on those segregated facilities.

"If we are successful in our bid we hope these facilities will encourage even more people to switch to cycling."

As with the previously announced schemes, if the council’s Tranche 2 bid is successful, temporary schemes may be made permanent at a later stage, but this will only be after detailed public consultation.