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Sidmouth Street Cycle Lane – Consultation On Making It Permanent

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A STATUTORY public consultation on making the temporary two-way cycle lane on Sidmouth Street a permanent fixture has been launched today (July 21).

Sidmouth Street Cycle Lane

The fully segregated two-way cycle lane on Sidmouth Street was first introduced in the summer of 2020 under emergency measures in the early part of the Covid 19 pandemic. As part of the funding rules, the Government directed local councils to install and promote new active travel options quickly, and without any public consultation, to help with social distancing. The cycle lane has subsequently remained in place, albeit with temporary status.

A statutory consultation has now been opened on whether it should be made permanent. This is in the context that the Sidmouth Street cycle lane is intended to become a key link in the expansion of Reading’s future cycle network, as well as providing more immediate benefits.

Sidmouth Street Cycle Lane Details

People can read more and respond to the statutory consultation at https://consult.reading.gov.uk/dens/sidmouthst/. The closing date for comments is August 10.

The Sidmouth Street cycle lane already links to shared-use cycle lanes along London Road and Wokingham Road. Importantly, it will also shortly provide a key link to the permanent new Active Travel cycle lane which will be built by the Council along the Shinfield Road later this year. This will extend between Christchurch Green and Whitley Wood Road, linking south Reading and the Royal Berkshire Hospital, the University of Reading, local centres and Reading Town Centre.

Reading Borough Council’s longer term ambition is to pursue future funding opportunities to further link the Sidmouth Street cycle lane to an expanded cycle network. This includes improving links to the Kennet tow path and making enhancements to where it joins with the existing shared-use cycle path on London Road and Wokingham Road.

A permanent scheme will also benefit future cycling initiatives within the Council’s already approved Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, and the more recent Bus Service Improvement Plan. More information about both of these can be found here:  https://www.reading.gov.uk/vehicles-roads-and-transport/transport-strategy/

Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport, said:

“The Council is committed to delivering  realistic alternatives to the private car across Reading, in particular for shorter journeys, which thereby benefits local air quality, people’s health and our target of net-zero carbon by 2030.

“The Sidmouth Street cycle lane was introduced rapidly in 2020 as part of emergency Covid measures. While it remains temporary in status at this time, and already links to shared-use lanes on the London and Wokingham Roads, the real benefits of this facility sit in both the immediate and longer-term future where it will become a key link in an expanded local cycle network.

“Over the coming months we will begin construction of a key strategic new cycle route along the Shinfield Road, after the Council successfully bid for Tranche 2 Active Travel funding. The Sidmouth Street cycle lane will be a key component linking to this new facility. Longer term, the ambition has always been to build new cycle links from Sidmouth Street, in particular, to the Kennet tow path and to improve links to the London and Wokingham Roads.

“We will continue to look for funding opportunities to bring these improvements to fruition, as we have done successfully in the past. The reality is, however, this becomes much more difficult to achieve if the Sidmouth Street lane is removed in the short term. We are required now to undertake this statutory consultation before deciding on whether or not to make it permanent and to secure this key stretch as part of the expansion of our future cycle network.

“It is worth repeating that, in the context of delivering on our wider cycling plans, we are currently consulting on new segregated cycleways along Bath Rd and Castle Hill which have already received funding.”

All statutory consultation responses will be reported to the Council’s Traffic Management Sub-Committee at its next meeting on 14 September. The Sub-Committee will review the feedback and decide whether or not the scheme should be made permanent.  If a decision is made to make the Sidmouth Street cycle lane permanent, officers will undertake investigations into options that will facilitate greater linking to the surrounding cycle network and works would be costed, designed and funding sources investigated.