Agenda item

Reallocation of Road Space - Reading's Active Travel Proposals

A report providing the Sub-Committee with an update on the Council’s Active Travel programme, as approved by Policy Committee on 18 May 2020.


The Executive Director for Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report providing the Sub-Committee with an update on the Council’s Active Travel Programme that had been approved by Policy Committee on 18 May 2020 (Minute 97 refers).  The Schedule of Schemes was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

The report explained that at the meeting of Policy Committee on 18 May 2020 the progression of a series of Active Travel proposals in Reading had been approved.  These proposals had been presented in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, which, alongside the Climate Emergency, had dramatically enhanced the focus on enabling greater levels of active travel through the provision of walking and cycling facilities.  The proposals had been developed with a view to short term measures that could be implemented quickly, and medium to longer term measures that, subject to the level of funding released by the Department for Transport (DfT), could be developed and implemented over the next few years.  The report set out the approved schemes as short, medium and long term projects.

The report explained that in early June 2020, the DfT had formally announced the Active Travel funding programme and had confirmed the available funding (subject to application) for each authority.  Reading had been allocated funding in two tranches, £295k in the first tranche and £1,179k in the second.  The DfT had not confirmed when the first tranche of funding would be released, nor had they confirmed the process for applying for the second tranche.  In line with the DfT funding announcement and the likely funding that would be allocated to Reading officers had prepared a schedule detailing the Active Travel schemes that had been approved by Policy Committee, alongside the estimate programme and estimated costs.  Not all schemes could be fully funded by the DfT Active Travel funding allocation alone and an element of ‘local’ funding would be required, such as Section 106 or Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

The Council’s Network Management Team had recently introduced the first scheme in the programme, the Reading Bridge advisory cycle lanes.  The designs for both Sidmouth Street and Gosbrook Road/Westfield Road were at an advanced stage and, subject to securing the traffic management equipment for each scheme, it was hoped these schemes would in introduced in July 2020.  This was slightly later than had been planned and was mainly due to the overall response to Active Travel across the country affecting the supply chain.  Due to the considerable resource required to deliver the Active Travel Programme, on top of existing workloads, the remaining projects would be supported by consulting engineers who would work alongside the Council’s Network Management Team to develop, design and introduce each project.  Officers would commence the review process of each temporary scheme in early 2021 which would be based on traffic data, user feedback and safety records. 

Cris Butler, Strategic Transportation Programme Manager, informed the Sub-Committee that on 26 June 2020 the DfT had announced the first phase of funding; Reading had been allocated an indicative first tranche of funding of £295 but had then actually been allocated just over £221k, or 75% (some authorities had only received 25% of their allocation).  This clearly had implications for the second tranche of funding where an indicative amount of £1,179k had been allocated.  This would be taken up with the DfT.

The Sub-Committee discussed the report and a number of points were raised including the following:

·         The introduction of 20mph zones was welcomed, although the enforcement of speed limits was considered to be better placed with the Council rather than the police as it was currently.  These zones would only be introduced when there was support from local residents to do so;

·         Officers confirmed that they would look into the possibility of delaying the implementation of the Gosbrook Road and Westfield Road schemes until the work on Reading Bridge to replace two gas mains, that had resulted in its closure for six weeks, was completed;

·         Concern was expressed about the width of the advisory cycle lanes on Reading Bridge and the number of pot holes.  However, the closure of the bridge had given the Council the opportunity to review the road surface and to carry out some works to the bridge including repairs to the road surface;

·         Concern was also expressed about one inbound lane being removed on Reading Bridge, the resulting impact on traffic flow and the potential for congestion when traffic levels returned to normal;

·         A request was made for enforcement action to be increased in respect of double-yellow lines north of the river during the closure of Reading Bridge to ensure that the traffic that now had to go through Caversham moved as smoothly as possible;

·         The Council had been under instruction to progress the schemes as quickly as possible so it was unable to carry out consultation but with the supply chain problems impacting the introduction of the schemes it was agreed that officers would share details with relevant Ward Councillors to brief them on what was being taken forward.

Resolved -    That the report, and the schedule of schemes set out in Appendix 1, be noted.


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