A former mayor of Reading says he is against the plan to allow cycling along Broad Street, while a fellow councillor has argued that such a move would put people off visiting Reading town centre on foot.
Currently, cycling is only allowed at the eastern end of Broad Street from Cross Street, but a formal consultation proposing that cycling is permitted along its full length is to be held soon.
An informal on-line consultation at the end of last year saw 796 respondents in favour of lifting the ban, out of 1,283 responses. 448 were in favour of not allowing cycling in Broad Street at all and 39 selected no change to the current arrangements.
But Councillor Tony Jones believes Broad Street should be left to pedestrians and Get Reading reports his view as being: “People of Reading beware.”
Jones told the Reading Borough Council traffic management committee: “Over the next three weeks or so, unless people say otherwise, the whole of Broad Street will be open to cycling.”
Another councillor, Ricky Duveen, said: “I would suggest that this is simply a bad scheme and will put people off visiting Reading town centre on foot.” Councillor Liz Terry added: “We call it pedestrianisation for a reason. It’s for people who are walking, not cyclists.”
Jamie Wittham was one councillor in favour, however, saying: "I will welcome this, if it goes ahead it really will help join up the fragmented cycle network."
Jones concluded: "If the council were to take a sandwich board and said to people 'do you think this should be cycle-free or cycling willy-nilly, I would bet a penny to the pound people would say ‘thanks but no thanks’. But we live in a democracy so let's see what happens."
Reading has benefited from a number of cycling developments in recent times. A new pedestrian and cycle route opened under the railway line at Napier Road last month. Known as the Biscuit Tunnel, it provides people living on Napier Road and Luscinia View with direct access to and from the town centre; and for people heading north to the River Thames and Caversham.
In addition to this, a new £5.9m bridge for pedestrians and cyclists has been opened across the River Thames, linking Caversham to Norman Place and Reading Station. Both projects were paid for using the Government's Local Sustainable Transport Fund – funding that has also given rise to the ReadyBike hire scheme in the town.