A move to allow cycling in a pedestrian street in Reading that had seemed almost inevitable after its first consultation is now to be blocked after a ‘dead heat’ vote.
An initial consultation online showed strong support for bikes in the pedestrian area of Broad Street.
Although Broad Street’s western area has a cycling ban in place, bike hire racks have already been added to the street.
The council found that 796 respondents were 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.
We reported back in January how Reading Borough Council transport head Tony Page said: "I don't believe the current situation where cycling is allowed in one half of Broad Street and banned in the other is sensible."
But another and 2,544 public votes later, Reading Borough Council has decided to retain the status quo.
Although the first public consultation online was in favour by about three to one, a second poll came back with total of 1,261 people voting.
A total of 653 said Yes to cycling but 608 said No.
Councillor Tony Page told Get Reading the majority of the emails and letters were “hostile”.
He said the consultation had not given the council sufficient mandate for change and proposed taking no further action.
“That doesn’t mean we will be simply leaving matters. It will be important to revisit issues of signage along Broad Street West and revisit signage in other town centre areas.”
He went on: “The public has spoken on this and we will make the best of it.”
He added that the non-online responses may have been from the elderly “who would have worries and concerns”.
He added: “In our growing café society and with people wandering from one side of Broad Street to another - from one shopping interest to another - I think that clash would have been too much.”
But, he said,“In the hierarchy of police priorities, enforcing a cycling ban on Broad Street West is not going to be a high one.”
Cllr Ed Hopper said the benefits to cyclists “didn’t outweigh the downside to pedestrians who would feel fearful of cyclists using the street.”
Earlier this year we reported how despite a former Mayor of Reading saying he was against the plan to allow cycling along Broad Street, and a fellow councillor arguing that such a move would put people off visiting Reading town centre on foot, Reading Council has revealed that just one person has complained about cyclists there in the past year.
road.cc reader Gareth Luscombe asked the council under the Freedom of Information Act for the number of complaints received about cyclists by location.
The council answered:
The Council received a total of six written complaints regarding cyclists between 1st January 2015 and 21st January 2016. Four of the six complaints gave a specific location and two relate to no fixed location in Tilehurst and Reading in general. The specific locations are as follows:
Thames Path, between Reading and Caversham Bridge
Church Street, Caversham
Milestone Way, Caversham Park Village.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.