Reading’s disputed Sidmouth Street cycle lane has been made permanent – and may be linked to a further stretch in London Road.

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

Reading Borough Council’s traffic management sub-committee agreed to make it permanent at its Wednesday, September 14 meeting with the Green Group leader Cllr Rob White, abstaining and calling it ‘a cycle lane to nowhere’.

Cllr Tony Page, lead councillor for climate strategy and transport, said the council could secure further funds to link the scheme to additional lanes, including adding a segregated cycle lane in London Road, by keeping the Sidmouth Street system in place.

He went on: “If we were misguided enough to remove the Sidmouth Street cycle lane, it would shred our credibility nationally at a time when we are in a very strong position to take forward further bidding opportunities.

“But because a large number of people have misunderstood the context – and I am not criticising them for not reading the council’s Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan – but I am criticising colleagues on this council who deliberately and wilfully chose to mislead people on social media and other opportunities – and deliberately refuse to accept that we have a plan that will inevitably be incremental by virtue of the funding we receive from central Government.

“But Sidmouth Street, and the standard of scheme we have there, offers us a good opportunity to bid successfully for further funds and will then link in, and be demonstrably part of, a successful cycle network locally.”

But Cllr White complained that it duplicates a scheme in Watlington Street.

He added: “Even if Sidmouth Street is joined up, if it ever is, I think Watlington Street will still be preferred by the majority.”

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