Give us your thoughts on ‘quick win’ schemes for cyclists

Cheap Street, Newbury - cyclists exempt from banned right turn

Often, little changes can make a big difference for cyclists – for example, exempting them from a banned right turn, or providing a contra-flow in a one-way street.  These schemes can create useful short-cuts and help to make cycling safer and more attractive for local journeys.

West Berkshire Council has told us that there is money available in this year’s budget for small schemes like these and has asked us for suggestions. Ideas so far include:

  1. In Newbury, allow cyclists to turn right into Cheap Street from Market Street.  This would help cyclists travelling from West Fields to Sainsbury’s and Hambridge Road.
  2. Formally designate Newbury Town Centre as a ‘Pedestrian and Cycle Zone’. Although cycling is already allowed in Bartholomew Street and Northbrook Street, existing signs are confusing.
  3. Where possible, exempt cyclists from one-way restrictions on roads in and around Newbury town centre.
  4. Put direction arrows in each lane on the St John’s Road approach to the Burger King roundabout in Newbury. This would reinforce that the middle lane is for straight ahead movements only. Increasingly, motorists are turning left from the middle lane, which goes against Rule 186 of the Highway Code. This results in cyclists being cut up when they are travelling from St Johns Road to Greenham Road.

If you can think of a small change that would make a big difference to your journey, then please let us know. We can’t promise that they will all see the light of day, since each scheme will be subject to a safety audit and appropriate consultation, but we’re happy to pass on ideas for consideration.


Spokes takes on the Cycle Forum

Council Offices

West Berkshire Council recently announced that they could no longer formally support the Cycle Forum due to a lack of staff resources. However, all parties agreed that the Cycle Forum provided a useful platform for identifying and discussing local cycling issues and for consulting on proposed cycling policies, schemes and initiatives.

It was therefore agreed that the Cycle Forum could continue with Spokes taking responsibility for pulling together the meeting agendas and preparing the minutes. Cllr Adrian Edwards agreed to remain as chair, while the Council would continue to provide some administrative support in terms of sending out agendas and minutes, and booking the meeting rooms.

Spokes is keen to reinvigorate the Cycle Forum and we are currently exploring options for a new website to promote the exchange of information and ideas in the periods between meetings.


National Pothole Day

Like the Great British weather, the condition of our roads is a perennial cause for complaint, but unlike the weather we can all do something about the potholes on our roads.

Street Repairs, the people behind the online pothole reporting website and smart phone app, have organised National Pothole Day to try and galvanise people into action, encouraging them to report potholes that they encounter on their local roads.

We come across potholes and other defects on our roads every day, but many of them go unreported. A small pothole can be quickly and inexpensively repaired. However, the same pothole, if left over the winter, will grow in size through repeated freezing and thawing of the water accumulating in it. After just a few months, the pothole will become a safety hazard and will be much more expensive to put right.

To ensure that the roads in West Berkshire remain in a safe and usable condition, the Council carries out routine safety inspections. All public highways are routinely inspected by qualified inspectors who then arrange for repairs to be carried out to address any defects that they find. The frequency of inspection is dependent on the type of road and the traffic using it. On minor roads, these can be quite lengthy, which means that some problems can go undetected for weeks or even months.

Street Repairs makes it easy to report problems on the roads, by providing one website through which residents can submit any issue, to any local council anywhere, any time. Smartphone technology allows residents to report problems in real-time. You can attach photographs and give a detailed description whilst out and about. Updates on the status of your report are sent back to you via email and text message.

There are apps for iPhone and Android and you can also report problems via the website: So next time you see a pothole, don’t just mutter under your breath and carry on, take the time to report it and get it fixed!


Space for Cycling

You may have seen some publicity in the media around the Space for Cycling campaign. This is a joint call to action launched by independent local and regional cycling groups across the UK following a very successful launch by London Cycle Campaign in 2013.

Space for Cycling has a Steering Group formed by the major national cycling organisations and city campaigning groups who have already made a start on their campaigns for elections that are taking place in May 2014.

While West Berkshire Council doesn’t have any elections this year, it is clear that cycling has fallen a long way down the local list of political priorities. The Get Britiain Cycling Report, published last year, recommended a spend of £10 per head on new cycling infrastructure rising to £20 as cycling increases. This is the MINIMUM spend that is required if we are to make cycling mainstream.

If you strip out maintenance dressed up as bridleway improvement schemes, West Berkshire Council is planning to spend just £0.65 per person on cycling facilities this year. This isn’t good enough, so Spokes is encouraging you to go to the Space4Cycling website pledge your support and email your local councillors to ask them to make Space for Cycling. Together we can make a difference!


Help Needed for February Cycle Count

We are looking for volunteers to help with our next cycle count. This is a really important activity for Spokes, since the payment that we get from the Council is main source of our funding and is one of the reasons that membership is free.

There are 17 sites which need to be counted from 07:30 to 09:30 on 25th, 26th and 27th February:

Site 1: Newbury – Kennet & Avon Towpath (Beneath A339)
Site 2: Newbury – A339 (on Railway Bridge)
Site 3: Newbury – Robin Hood west arm (London Road)
Site 4: Newbury – Kiln Road / Walton Way
Site 5: Newbury – Love Lane (roundabout at Trinity School)
Site 6: Newbury – Andover Road (just north of St Bartholomew’s School)
Site 7: Newbury – Junction of Northcroft Lane & path to Monkey Bridge
Site 8: Newbury – Junction of Valley Road and Fifth Road
Site 9: Newbury – Junction of Battery End with Wash Common Recreation Ground
Site 10: Thatcham – A4 West of Lower Way
Site 11: Thatcham – Thatcham Station
Site 12: Thatcham – Corner of Bath Road & Green Lane
Site 13: Theale – Junction of High Street & Waterside Drive
Site 14: Hungerford – Staggered junction near Town Hall – Church St & Park St
Site 15: Calcot – Junction of Langley Hill & Bath Road
Site 16: Tilehurst – Junction of Dark Lane & Overdown Road
Site 17: Purley – Junction of Knowsley Road & Oxford Road

If you can help with any of these, then please email us ( You can do more than one count on subsequent days if you would like. Locations will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

We really appreciate the help that we get from our volunteers, who turn out in all weathers. To say thank you, everyone who counts for at least one hour will be entered in a prize draw for £50 of Banjo vouchers.