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Streets too narrow, buses too important, to allocate road space to cyclists, say councillors

A survey of Reading residents ahead of the release of town’s 2014 cycling strategy has revealed that badly-maintained roads, lack of cycling infrastructure, poor driving and theft deter people from riding bikes in the town.

But councillors say that Reading’s narrow streets and the popularity of buses as mode of transport mean there is little they can do to encourage cycling.

The council received 349 responses to its online consultation, and another 19 detailed responses.

According to GetReading’s David Millward, regular cyclists called for better road maintenance, better lighting and more separated cycle routes. Non-cyclists raised concerns about cyclists ignoring red lights, cycling on pavements and inconsiderate behaviour.

High-quality cycling infrastructure would of course deal with all these problems, but Reading council doesn’t see it that way.

At a meeting of the council’s strategic environment, planning and transport committee, councillor Tony Page said  the council was restricted with what it could do because of the town’s narrow roads.

He said: “We have to balance the interests of all road users and I particularly draw colleagues’ attention to figures which indicate the huge reliance on buses for journeys into the town centre.

“At the moment, cyclists only constitute three per cent and even if you double that it’s still only six per cent. The dominant and most popular mode of transport is our public transport.”

Reading’s cycling strategy aims for 2,300 additional cycle trips every day by April 2015, and doubling the percentage of people cycling to work in the next five years.

The plans also include an increase in cycle parking spaces, with a  doubling of cycle parking at Reading Station by opening a new Cycle Parking Hub by Autumn 2014 and a review of existing and potential new cycle routes - including signage - to make travelling between routes easier for cyclists.

A Boris Bike-style cycle hire scheme, ReadyBike, was launched at the end January. In UK towns and cities smaller than London, lack of cycling infrastructure and small populations mean these systems have almost universally failed to attract enough users to be viable.

But there’s no hint of allocating road space to cyclists if it inconveniences other road users. For example, the strategy includes “investigating opportunities to improve road lay outs - including advanced stop lines” but there’s a big caveat: “where there is sufficient width and lane capacity is not reduced.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Ricky Duveen said: “I would like to draw attention to the accident figures in the report.

“Cycling accounts for three per cent of journeys, but we can see from the chart they account for 25 per cent of the accidents.

“One of the main barriers to stop people cycling is people don’t feel safe because of the layout of the roads we have inherited, where it’s not always possible to separate cyclists from traffic or from pedestrians.

“We don’t necessarily want to promote one form of transport over the other, but at the moment we give priority to cars and I think we could do ourselves a huge favour at a stroke by reducing the allowable speed from 30mph to 20mph on our roads.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

31 comments

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thelimopit [139 posts] 2 years ago
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What the hell is up with the comments system on the GetReading? I've looked through and I can't see any mentions of road tax, cyclists jumping red lights or people wanting to mow them down...

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Doctor Fegg [143 posts] 2 years ago
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"In UK towns and cities smaller than London"

That'll be all of them then...

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Gashead [33 posts] 2 years ago
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I have very limited experience of cycling through Reading i.e. once from east to west. Much of it was on a dedicated, segregated cycle lane integrated into the wide pavements. Usual errant pedestrians and white vans parked but generally I was impressed.

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A V Lowe [576 posts] 2 years ago
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OK Reading - 25% of RTC's involve cyclists - but only 3% of modal split.

Seems that you really should be fulfilling your statutory obligation under Section 39(3) RTA 1988 and "Carrying out investigations into road traffic collisions" with a view to addressing this disparity. Maybe you can publish the reports you have done (as required by law) to date?

Any Reading cyclist care to do an FoI on this one?

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jamtartman [56 posts] 2 years ago
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The Peoples Republic of Reading see all personal modes of transport as a threat to their authority. To control and monitor the movement of the population, you must force them onto the state controlled transport system - Reading Borough Council owns the bus company.

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mrmo [2080 posts] 2 years ago
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simple question time, Who owns Readings buses? what is the income/cost,

Would the minor detail of councillors self interest cause any bias in how they see competing methods of transport?

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benb [80 posts] 2 years ago
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Hardly anyone cycles because it's not subjectively safe.
But no point investing in infrastructure because hardly anyone cycles!

That's basically their logic.

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Mountainboy [96 posts] 2 years ago
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That's what our executive member for transport said in WsM, "we haven't put any effort into improving this horrific junction because very few people choose to cycle across it"!

I may have misquoted him slightly, but the meaning is there...

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P3t3 [270 posts] 2 years ago
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I cycle across Reading twice every day.

The council haven't got a clue and Tony Page is a big obstruction to cycling in Reading.

The town is choking on cars but nobody seems to understand that a relatively small modal shift to bikes would radically change that. The argument that the streets are narrow is total nonsense, most of Reading's streets are huge, the town got bombed flat in the war so there is loads of room. Its just that the town has a legacy of town centre road building that the council can't seem to move on from. Being the only reliable crossing of the Thames for a few miles doesn't help but the council have no strategy for removing or dealing with the through traffic - it makes them obsessed with traffic problems but they will never get away from that without providing credible alternatives.

One of the major problems is that the town is cut in half by Thames and the railway line, which have only 2 crossing points which are terribly hostile to bikes. 5 minutes on the back of an envelope reveals how one of the crossing points could be completely tamed very cheaply (and it does link to lots of traffic free routes) but the council missed this opportunity when they re-furbished the station approaches.

The recently renewed Vastern road across the front of the new station entrance is a typical example, its about 40 metres wide. We could have had a nice boulevard, or good quality cycle infrastructure leading to the station and building out from that, but the council insisted on making concrete desert, 4 lanes of car traffic and big pavements, then making the pavement shared use as an afterthought. They couldn't have done a worse job if they had tried!

In the past there have been patches of very high quality infrastructure built in Reading but whatever policy put them in has very definitely been reversed in recent times.

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cyclingDMlondon [493 posts] 2 years ago
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I understand this reluctance. We live on the London/Kent 'border', and would love nothing more than to pootle out onto Kent's roads of a weekend, stop for a pub lunch, and enjoy a leisurely ride home.

But South East England's drivers are borderline psycopaths.

Even when they're not inflicting 'punishment passes', shouting abuse and threats or tossing empty beer cans at you, they make it abundantly clear that cyclists are not welcome on 'their' roads.

There can be few places in this sceptered isle where the phenomenon of 'Must Pass the Cyclist' is more evident, than in Her Majesty's South East. One can be twenty yards from a junction, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be slowing down to stop at a red light, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be approaching the back of a queue of completely stationary vehicles, but no matter - must pass the cyclist.

Must pass the cyclist, must pass the cyclist, must pass the cyclist.

Do these f*****g mouth-breathers realise what a menace they are?

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cyclingDMlondon [493 posts] 2 years ago
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'We don’t necessarily want to promote one form of transport over the other'

Well, you're a f*****g retard.

Why not promote the method of transport that has zero emissions, gets the population fit, and doesn't kill people?

Or why not just resign your cushy councillor job, you worthless pile of shite?

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cyclingDMlondon [493 posts] 2 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

What's the collective term for ineffectual councilors?

At least there's a hint of a 20mph limit. Add in a few bollards to create quietways, get people to understand that a month's bus fares would pay for a 2nd hand town bike, and things start to change. It's not rocket science, and the popularity of the bus service is the lamest of excuses.

Councillors are the dregs of humanity. They are worthless. Complete waste of space. If someone developed a neutron bomb that only killed councillors, I'd get them to put it onto Kickstarter, and fund them generously.

I hate the fuc*ers.

Not that long ago, up in Scotland, there was a town where the money was tight. As a result, none of the streets were gritted. So my mother was forced to stay in all over winter.

One day, I took a wander to the area where the council head honcho lived. Guess what. Yep. His street was gritted.

Pigshit. Scum. Vermin.

Hang them. Every single one of them.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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What's the collective term for ineffectual councilors?

At least there's a hint of a 20mph limit. Add in a few bollards to create quietways, get people to understand that a month's bus fares would pay for a 2nd hand town bike, and things start to change. It's not rocket science, and the popularity of the bus service is the lamest of excuses.

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stenmeister [283 posts] 2 years ago
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I used to live in Reading and Cemetery Junction in the east of the town was quite scary but the Thames canal path was superb. There are ways around town without reverting to main roads and demanding for cycle lanes.

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jacknorell [966 posts] 2 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

What's the collective term for ineffectual councilors?

Easy... it's "councilors".

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Simon_MacMichael [2457 posts] 2 years ago
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jacknorell wrote:
Neil753 wrote:

What's the collective term for ineffectual councilors?

Easy... it's "councilors".

In the UK, its "councillors"  3

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workhard [397 posts] 2 years ago
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cyclingDMlondon wrote:

But South East England's drivers are borderline psycopaths.

Even when they're not inflicting 'punishment passes', shouting abuse and threats or tossing empty beer cans at you, they make it abundantly clear that cyclists are not welcome on 'their' roads.

There can be few places in this sceptered isle where the phenomenon of 'Must Pass the Cyclist' is more evident, than in Her Majesty's South East. One can be twenty yards from a junction, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be slowing down to stop at a red light, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be approaching the back of a queue of completely stationary vehicles, but no matter - must pass the cyclist.

Must pass the cyclist, must pass the cyclist, must pass the cyclist.

Do these f*****g mouth-breathers realise what a menace they are?

I live in north West Sussex not far from the Surrey border.

I'd say you have the local nobber-drivers described to a tee.

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qwerky [184 posts] 2 years ago
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P3t3 wrote:

The council haven't got a clue and Tony Page is a big obstruction to cycling in Reading.

The recently renewed Vastern road across the front of the new station entrance is a typical example, its about 40 metres wide. We could have had a nice boulevard, or good quality cycle infrastructure leading to the station and building out from that, but the council insisted on making concrete desert, 4 lanes of car traffic and big pavements, then making the pavement shared use as an afterthought. They couldn't have done a worse job if they had tried!

In the past there have been patches of very high quality infrastructure built in Reading but whatever policy put them in has very definitely been reversed in recent times.

I work in Reading and commute in (almost) every day. Totally agree with what you say. Tony Page is well known for investing in buses and not giving a damn about cycling (http://humancyclist.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-only-real-obstacle-to-dut...). His motivations might become more obvious when you realise that he used to be chairman of Reading Buses.

The Vastern Road debarcle is telling. There are two lanes in both directions, a 5m wide central reservation and also wide footpaths on both sides. This road was totally redeveloped as part of the station upgrade. Any cycle lanes added? No, but despite Reading's roads being really narrow Tony *did* manage to squeeze in a bus lane.

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cyclingDMlondon [493 posts] 2 years ago
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workhard wrote:
cyclingDMlondon wrote:

But South East England's drivers are borderline psycopaths.

Even when they're not inflicting 'punishment passes', shouting abuse and threats or tossing empty beer cans at you, they make it abundantly clear that cyclists are not welcome on 'their' roads.

There can be few places in this sceptered isle where the phenomenon of 'Must Pass the Cyclist' is more evident, than in Her Majesty's South East. One can be twenty yards from a junction, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be slowing down to stop at a red light, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be approaching the back of a queue of completely stationary vehicles, but no matter - must pass the cyclist.

Must pass the cyclist, must pass the cyclist, must pass the cyclist.

Do these f*****g mouth-breathers realise what a menace they are?

I live in north West Sussex not far from the Surrey border.

I'd say you have the local nobber-drivers described to a tee.

Heh.

I asked a couple of car-driving colleagues to explain this to me. Why, no matter where they are, what their speed is, and how certain it is that they'll have to slow down or stop, they have to, come-what-may, get past the cyclist.

My boss said that it's because people mentally process things in a linear fashion. They see the bike, they see the lights, but they don't start to compute the lights, because they're n° 2 on the list. First things first, get past the cyclist.

I do believe that we have found the answer to the question, 'are car drivers thick c**ts?'.

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benb [80 posts] 2 years ago
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cyclingDMlondon wrote:

I understand this reluctance. We live on the London/Kent 'border', and would love nothing more than to pootle out onto Kent's roads of a weekend, stop for a pub lunch, and enjoy a leisurely ride home.

But South East England's drivers are borderline psycopaths.

Even when they're not inflicting 'punishment passes', shouting abuse and threats or tossing empty beer cans at you, they make it abundantly clear that cyclists are not welcome on 'their' roads.

There can be few places in this sceptered isle where the phenomenon of 'Must Pass the Cyclist' is more evident, than in Her Majesty's South East. One can be twenty yards from a junction, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be slowing down to stop at a red light, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be approaching the back of a queue of completely stationary vehicles, but no matter - must pass the cyclist.

Must pass the cyclist, must pass the cyclist, must pass the cyclist.

Do these f*****g mouth-breathers realise what a menace they are?

Quality rant there!  41

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mrmo [2080 posts] 2 years ago
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cyclingDMlondon wrote:

There can be few places in this sceptered isle where the phenomenon of 'Must Pass the Cyclist' is more evident, than in Her Majesty's South East. One can be twenty yards from a junction, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be slowing down to stop at a red light, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be approaching the back of a queue of completely stationary vehicles, but no matter - must pass the cyclist.

Not just a SE thing. well not totally, I spend a fair amount of time in North Devon, the worst drivers are those in SE registered lease cars. (it isn't hard to work out). Incapable of driving the lanes, must overtake, and incapable of giving way on single track roads, they would rather a traffic jam than allow on coming traffic priority.

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cyclingDMlondon [493 posts] 2 years ago
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benb wrote:
cyclingDMlondon wrote:

I understand this reluctance. We live on the London/Kent 'border', and would love nothing more than to pootle out onto Kent's roads of a weekend, stop for a pub lunch, and enjoy a leisurely ride home.

But South East England's drivers are borderline psycopaths.

Even when they're not inflicting 'punishment passes', shouting abuse and threats or tossing empty beer cans at you, they make it abundantly clear that cyclists are not welcome on 'their' roads.

There can be few places in this sceptered isle where the phenomenon of 'Must Pass the Cyclist' is more evident, than in Her Majesty's South East. One can be twenty yards from a junction, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be slowing down to stop at a red light, but no matter - must pass the cyclist. One can be approaching the back of a queue of completely stationary vehicles, but no matter - must pass the cyclist.

Must pass the cyclist, must pass the cyclist, must pass the cyclist.

Do these f*****g mouth-breathers realise what a menace they are?

Quality rant there!  41

*bows*

They're the worst I've ever experienced, and I've cycled in almost every country in Europe.

When the missus got her bike late 2012, we went for a late-night ride around Welling and Eltham. At one point, there's this car that was coming towards us, and the road was too narrow for both us and the car. I sort of 'imposed' my presence, by moving to the centre of the road, the so the driver had to stop.

As I cycled past, the driver was sitting glaring at me. Pasty face, pinched mouth, arrogant sneer of the under-25 with the massive sense of entitlement and who thinks the world owes him everything, dressed in the Kent colours. He probably thinks that a class night out is getting pissed in Pure (Bexleyheath) before vomiting all over his girlfriend.

Anyway, as we passed, he held my gaze, with that defiant, 'I dare you...' look. His left hand was holding the steering wheel in the top left position (as seen from where he was sitting), but his right hand was out of sight below the sill of the door.

I remain utterly convinced to this day, that he was holding a firearm, and that if I had opened my mouth, I would have been shot.

EDIT: or at least threatened.

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notfastenough [3695 posts] 2 years ago
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thelimopit wrote:

What the hell is up with the comments system on the GetReading? I've looked through and I can't see any mentions of road tax, cyclists jumping red lights or people wanting to mow them down...

How strange, all the comments are sensible!!  13 If this is some new BS filtering system, the Daily Mail should be forced to buy one...

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jimmyd [108 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm a Reading Cyclist and Motorist, and frankly it's bad for everyone - even those of Buses.

Generally the people in charge of the roads in the council are Morons and have no idea what they are doing.

I only survive Cycling in Reading as I have local knowledge and quite a few Towpaths I can travel down to avoid traffic.

RBC are also anti car. I remember about 15 years ago now, they changed the main Southerly route out of the town(A327) from 3 cars lanes to one with lots of parking either side, bigger pavements, a underused Bus lane and wasted spaces full of hatching.

If you want further proof just Google 'Shinfield road roundabouts' and you'll see what their attitude is to the taxpayers.

Trust me when I say these guys can't even be trusted to look after a bee in a jar!!

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cyclingDMlondon [493 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
notfastenough wrote:
thelimopit wrote:

What the hell is up with the comments system on the GetReading? I've looked through and I can't see any mentions of road tax, cyclists jumping red lights or people wanting to mow them down...

How strange, all the comments are sensible!!  13 If this is some new BS filtering system, the Daily Mail should be forced to buy one...

What, and go out of business within the month?

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Cantab [93 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
cyclingDMlondon wrote:
notfastenough wrote:
thelimopit wrote:

What the hell is up with the comments system on the GetReading? I've looked through and I can't see any mentions of road tax, cyclists jumping red lights or people wanting to mow them down...

How strange, all the comments are sensible!!  13 If this is some new BS filtering system, the Daily Mail should be forced to buy one...

What, and go out of business within the month?

Sounds like the optimal outcome for humanity!  105

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johndonnelly [81 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
notfastenough wrote:
thelimopit wrote:

What the hell is up with the comments system on the GetReading? I've looked through and I can't see any mentions of road tax, cyclists jumping red lights or people wanting to mow them down...

How strange, all the comments are sensible!!  13 If this is some new BS filtering system, the Daily Mail should be forced to buy one...

The same filter can be used to filter for and only allow BS. Perhaps they have it already.

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johndonnelly [81 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
A V Lowe wrote:

OK Reading - 25% of RTC's involve cyclists - but only 3% of modal split.

Seems that you really should be fulfilling your statutory obligation under Section 39(3) RTA 1988 and "Carrying out investigations into road traffic collisions" with a view to addressing this disparity. Maybe you can publish the reports you have done (as required by law) to date?

Any Reading cyclist care to do an FoI on this one?

Will do.

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CStar [38 posts] 2 years ago
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On the plus side, there is so much new development going on South of Reading, that within 3-5 years it will be complete gridlock anyway, so the only sensible way to travel around will be by bike. I regularly travel through Wokingham and Winnersh and pass lines and lines of cars going nowhere. Smugingham BC's approach is to let the roads get into such a poor state that they are completely unsuitable for any cycling other than on a MTB. This way they can avoid having to worry about cycling and can continue simply to build more houses.

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fatbeggaronabike [819 posts] 2 years ago
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Councillor Tony Page said...... Cyclists only constitute three per cent and even if you double that it’s still only six per cent.

Good to know he can count maybe that's the only thing he's good at?

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