Cycle Audit: Spokes was asked by West Berkshire Council to carry out an audit of the urban cycle network in Newbury, Thatcham and Theale. This highlighted how the cycle network can be improved and expanded – including for various new developments that are planned. The audit identified gaps that could be filled, junctions that could be improved etc – anything that would make life a little easier and safer for a cyclist. Reading Cycle Campaign did a parallel exercise in Theale and the Reading fringe.
Canal Towpath: Spokes has engaged with West Berkshire Council and the Canal and River Trust to highlight the poor state of the towpath and press the case for investment to bring it back up to standard. As a first step, we undertook an audit of the towpath condition to catalogue the problems. Our top priority is to address spots where boats pulling at mooring pegs has caused small sections of the bank to pull away and the canal to cut into the towpath. We then want to see the narrowest and most neglected sections of towpath widened and resurfaced, including Marsh Benham towards Bridge 66 and the section east of Colthrop. We are also advising West Berkshire Council and the Canal and River Trust on where to invest developer contributions from the racecourse development.
Newbury to Didcot Railway Line: Spokes is working with West Berkshire Council to try and reopen sections of the Newbury to Didcot railway line as a public right of way open to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. We are starting with the section between Hermitage and Hampstead Norreys. Highways England has transferred ownership of the bridges and a strip of land to West Berkshire Council and got their contractor to clear vegetation from the route. The safety audit and detailed design are complete and BT is moving the telegraph poles. The route should be open Summer 2019.
Cycle Training: Spokes has paid for a number of its members to become Bikeability instructors. These people go on to offer training to both children and adults, giving them the skills and confidence to be able to cycle in modern traffic conditions. Spokes has its very own Bikeability guru in Caroline Lane – not only is she a Bikeability instructor, she also trains up new Bikeability trainers and is a Bikeability assessor, so she knows her stuff!
Dr Bike: A number of our members have completed the Cytech Home Mechanic cycle maintenance course. This enables Spokes to offer a Dr Bike service where our mechanics undertake bike checks and adjustments free of charge. Unfortunately, our insurance does not permit us to carry out any repairs, but we are happy to advise on what work is needed and point you in the direction of a friendly local cycle shop where Spokes members will receive a 10% discount on parts. We run occasional workshops and Dr Bike sessions throughout the year, so keep an eye on our calendar page for details.
Bike Loan Scheme: As the result of a charitable donation, Spokes has been able to buy eight reconditioned bikes from the Community Furniture Project in Newbury, and supply them, with a helmet and lock, for long term loan to children in West Berkshire schools who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a bike. This enables them to take part in Bikeability training and to continue to cycle afterwards. These bikes are loaned to each child for as long as they need them or until they grow out of them. We hope to provide more bikes to local families in the future and get more kids cycling.
Cycle Count: Spokes carries out three cycle counts per year, in February, June and October at 17 sites from Hungerford in the west to Tilehurst in the east. This helps to highlight changes in cycling activity over time and gauge how successful local policies and infrastructure improvements have been in terms of getting more bums on saddles. West Berkshire Council pays us to carry out the counts and this provides Spokes with the majority of its annual income, enabling us to fund all our other projects.