Councillors will be asked to make a controversial cycle lane in Reading permanent next week.

The segregated two-way cycle lane on the east side of Sidmouth Street was installed during Summer of 2020 under emergency measures during lockdown.

The Government directed local councils to install and promote new active travel options quickly, and without public consultation.

Other measures in Reading at the time included a one-way system in Caversham which was quickly scrapped and cycle lanes in Southampton Street, Silver Street, Mount Pleasant/Whitley Street, Oxford Road, Christchurch Road, Redlands Road and on Reading Bridge which remain. 

The Sidmouth Street cycle lane has remained but with temporary status. A consultation was launched in July and hundreds of responses were submitted with many referring to cyclists continuing to use the main carriageway and not the segregated cycle lanes.

There were also many references to traffic disruption caused by the loss of the southbound lane.

However, Reading Borough Council’s traffic management sub-committee has been recommended to make it permanent at its Wednesday, September 14 meeting.

Cllr Tony Page, lead councillor for climate strategy and transport, said: “The Sidmouth Street cycle lane has been the subject of some understandable discussion since its introduction, which is reflected in the published consultation results.

“Nobody is claiming that the current facility, viewed in isolation, is ideal, but the piecemeal nature of Government funding opportunities for cycling infrastructure means that we must consider not only the current position, but also the impact on possible bidding opportunities which may present themselves in the future.

“Officers acknowledge Sidmouth Street is an important building block towards an expanded local cycle network in the areas which will link to it. The fact remains that removal of the scheme at this time would undoubtedly weaken our position in relation to future bids for funding.

“We remain wholly committed as a council to delivering realistic alternatives to the private car, benefitting local air quality, people’s health and our target of net-zero carbon by 2030.

“In that context, it is also important to recognise the present day benefits of a fully segregated cycle lane on Sidmouth Street, which links to shared-use cycle lanes along London Road and Wokingham Road. Those benefits will increase further once the new Shinfield Road cycle lane is complete, which we expect will further encourage use of the Sidmouth Street lane by cyclists.

“I’d like to thank every individual and organisation for taking the time to respond to this important consultation. It is worth noting the final decision is not based on numbers of responses.

“Councillors will need to take into consideration the arguments made for and against in those responses, alongside the wider context of possible future improvements to the local cycle network.”

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