A4 Cycle Route (Phase 1) Consultation

West Berkshire Council is in the process of developing plans for a new cycle route along the A4 from Newbury all the way to the district boundary in Calcot. This will form part of the new National Cycle Network Route 422, which will link Newbury and Thatcham to Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell and Ascot. The scheme has received funding through the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and will be one of the biggest cycling schemes in the county since NCN Route 4.

Given the length of the scheme, it will be rolled out in phases. The Council has just gone out to consultation on phase one. This will see improvements on London Road and Benham Hill, from the junction with Faraday Road right up to the Wye Vale Garden Centre roundabout.

The scheme will create safe space for cyclists on the road and will include the following changes:

  • cycle lanes on both sides of road where width allows
  • making better use of available road space by removing hatching and right turn lanes where it is appropriate to do so
  • removing traffic islands to get rid of ‘pinch points’ for cyclists
  • installing advanced stop lines at signalised junctions
  • new dropped kerbs to help cyclists get on and off the route

There will also be improvements to off-carriageway facilities. This recognises the fact that not all cyclists have the confidence to mix with traffic and there are areas where accessibility is currently restricted for those in wheelchairs, mobility scooters and with pushchairs.

The following improvements are proposed:

  • widening and resurfacing sections of pavement, and converting them to shared paths
  • giving cyclists priority across the entrance to the B&Q / Dunelm Mill retail park
  • removing unnecessary road signs, and relocating street furniture
  • creating wider pedestrian islands to improve crossing points for all users

It is also proposed to introduce new double yellow lines, in areas where there is a problem with cars parking and blocking footways. There will be separate consultations to follow for these restrictions as they require Traffic Regulation Orders.

You can send your comments or objections to this proposal to the Highways Project Team, no later than 22 October 2017.


VMS is not the answer to safety problems


You may have come across this recent article in the local media, which suggest that West Berkshire Council are considering putting up Variable Message Signs on the A4 between Thatcham and Theale to encourage motorists to look out for cyclists. Spokes does not feel that variable message signs are the right solution, since they are simply an attempt to tackle the symptom rather than the cause of the problems experienced by cyclists along this busy main road.

There are several Spokes members who regularly cycle this stretch of the A4 and the consensus opinion is that the main problems relate to locations where central islands have been constructed. These have presumably been installed to reduce vehicle speeds and / or to prevent overtaking at key locations along the route.  However, they have been found to create significant problems for cyclists as motorists try to overtake at the islands. Our members have cited several near misses at these locations and we feel that the islands compromise the safety of cyclists.

The ideal solution would be to have a high quality, fully segregated cycle track alongside the A4. This would make it safe and pleasant for people to cycle between the various towns and villages along the A4. Failing that, the next best solution would be construction of cycle bypasses at the road narrowings, or to come up with a completely different design that does not place cyclists and motor vehicles into direct conflict.

We will seek to work with West Berkshire Council to come up with an effective solution and will raise this at the next Cycle Forum.