Tuesday, 1 October 2013

New A4 Road Markings Fail Cyclists

In the last week of September West Berkshire Council finally finished repainting the eastern area A4 road markings, linking the section between Midgham and Aldermaston Wharf on the major thoroughfare between Newbury and Reading.

While highway workers and commuters alike will be relieved at the end of the job, cyclists have expressed disappointment and frustration at the lack of any designated cycle lane.

Your local Focus Team went out to look at the issue and this is what we found:

The UK is currently experiencing a cycling boom, as continuing success at professional level gives the humble two-wheeler an image boost, while new facilities make cycling safer and less of a discomfort. This is particularly noticable as commuters, leisure bikers and sportive riders increasingly frequent the direct routes, meandering backlanes and picturesque hill-climbs this part of the county.

Newbury Road Club, for example, operates two time-trial courses [10 miles, 25 miles] along the Woolhampton section of the A4, making it one of the most popular competitive cycling routes in the whole of Berkshire.

Furthermore, the gradients and sweeping corners which make the stretch of road appealing to cycle along also make it dangerous - especially considering recent accidents along the stretch and the fact that West Berkshire drivers have relatively high numbers of  penalty points on their licences.

Aldermaston Ward campaigner James Spackman commented,
"It is strange, to say the least, that only the section of the A4 in Aldermaston ward is now without a cycle lane. I compliment WBC on efforts to encourage cycling as part of environmental and health strategies, but it is an example of the lack of joined-up thinking and incompetent leadership exhibited by local tories to neglect the demands of the fastest growing segment of road users on one of the key cycle routes in the area."
Meanwhile, cycling campaign group West Berkshire Spokes reports that it is "working with the Canal Trust and Sustrans to explore opportunities for upgrading the section of the towpath to the east of Colthrop" on the the parallel route along the Kennet & Avon.

James added,
"With only one established cycle route in the area 'overgrown' and 'unsafe', by not creating a cycle lane along this part of the A4 West Berkshire Highways department have missed a glaring and simple opportunity to promote this clean and healthy means of transport."

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