A FRESH call for the removal of a cycle lane in Reading described as a ‘white elephant’ has been put to the council.

In 2020, Reading Borough Council closed the northbound lane of Sidmouth Street and converted it into a two-way cycle lane using funding from the Government.

Now, resident Raymond Tapken has argued the lane closure is ‘senseless’ and called for it to be reinstated  so cars and other vehicles can use it as well.

He said that he was “very unhappy” to hear that they could extend the northbound lane closure, suspecting that the council has an “ulterior motive” to make it a permanent cycle lane.

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Mr Tapken also argued that barely any cyclists use Sidmouth Street.

He said: “The truth of the matter is that since Watlington Street/South Street rat run was closed Watlington Street is the street that all pedestrians and cyclists, school children, students, workers, hospital visitors use.

“Nobody – not pedestrians nor cyclists use Sidmouth Street  despite all the fancy markings and encouragement to do so.

“It is a white elephant that needs to be quietly removed and return the street to normal.”

Mr Tapkin added that if councillor Tony Page (Labour, Abbey), the lead member for transport, wants to complete Reading’s cycle route, the council should encourage people to use Watlington Street instead.

Watlington Street contains two churches, The Lyndhurst pub, and connects Queen’s Road to London Road.

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A petition calling for the cycle lanes to be removed and the road reinstated from February 2021 received 248 signatures, but the cycle lane remains in place.

In response, a council spokesperson said Sidmouth Street and the wider  London Road area ‘an appropriate choice’ for encouraging active travel.

They also gave figures demonstrating that people are using the cycle lanes.

The spokesperson said: “The council is continually reviewing the series of initial active travel cycle lanes introduced in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, which were delivered under emergency powers and in an extremely tight timescale. This includes Sidmouth Street.

“Video surveys carried out last year over a 12 hour period recorded 76 cyclists using the facility, which is a respectable level of use.

“We have additionally commissioned independent road safety audits for this and all the other schemes and the Council is in the process of reviewing the detail of these audits, which will of course play a big part on whether the schemes remain in place.

“It is also important to note, any move to make this cycle lane permanent would require further funding and a detailed public consultation process, providing local people with the opportunity to have their say on whether to continue with it.

“If continued, the council would also propose improving the link between Sidmouth Street and other cycle routes in this area.”