Matt Rodda Member of Parliament for Reading East
It’s great to see plans for a series of new cycle lanes in Reading East. We’ve changed some of our habits during this lockdown, and many of us are cycling and walking more than we did before. Reading Council is doing important work to improve walking and cycling in Caversham, Reading and Earley, allowing residents to maintain social distance and travel safely without having to drive.
Please see Reading Council’s website for more details of the new routes: http://news.reading.gov.uk/more-space-for-walking-cycling/
The council has drawn up plans for several new cycle lanes, and also for some new bus lanes which can also be used by cyclists. Taken together these represent a significant increase in the number and length of cycle lanes in the town and they also improve the network, by connecting a number of existing cycle routes.
I support these proposals and I think they could make a major difference, helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, air pollution and improving the health of our community by encouraging people to be more active. The plans should also help ease congestion, by helping to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads, which also makes it easier for people who have to drive to get around.
However, I should add that the plans are for temporary changes and that if there are problems with any of these proposals will be possible to alter them, or even in some cases return to existing road layout if this was necessary.
The measures are being proposed following changes to Government guidance to councils, to encourage local authorities to come up with proposals to create more cycle paths, in response to the need to encourage safe travel as the lock down is eased.
As a local MP, and a Shadow Transport Minister, I have been keen to support improvements to cycle and walking routes, and I believe encouraging more cycling and walking is important for the environment, to improve public health and to ease congestion.
Britain has lagged behind some other European countries on encouraging cycling and waking, but there have been some important changes in recent years, particularly in London and Manchester, and locally in Reading and Woodley, such as the building of a cycling and walking bridge across the Thames, the East Reading 20 mile per hour zone and a range of other initiatives.
I want to thank Reading Borough Council for its work on these proposals. I think the plans are significant and that they should be seen as an important local part of a wave of improvements being made by innovative councils across the country. I also hope other local councils will also propose similar changes.