Published on

23 May 2023

Funding gets plans moving for new active travel route

Plans for a new active and sustainable travel link between Wokingham town centre and neighbourhoods to the west have taken their first steps thanks to a Government grant

A person in suit trousers and smart shoes sat on a bicycle

Plans for a new active and sustainable travel link between Wokingham town centre and neighbourhoods to the west have taken their first steps thanks to a Government grant.

The borough council has been awarded £606,215 from the Department for Transport's Active Travel Fund, which will pay for initial design work on the scheme along the A329 Reading Road.

It’s hoped that the 1.6 mile (2.5km) route would run from Sadler’s Lane at Winnersh, near the M4 underpass and petrol station, to the western end of Broad Street. 

However, no money is allocated for building it and nothing would go ahead without public consultation.

From drawing board to seeking your views

The project, comprising a segregated one-way cycle lane with shared use paths and other improvements on each side of the road, would be split into four phases.

The council and its transport consultant WSP hope to finish drafting a design by the end of the year and then consult on at least the first phase, running from Sadler’s Lane to Emmbrook Road.

The second phase would be works at Woosehill roundabout, including a new toucan crossing on Woosehill Spine Road, with the third phase stopping just before Station Approach and the fourth ending at Broad Street via Shute End.

The proposal is likely to include junction improvements, new road crossings, a speed limit reduction from 40mph to 30mph and "island" bus stops separated from cycle traffic with mini zebra crossings to keep bus users safe.

Improving access and the environment

Cllr Paul Fishwick, executive member for active travel, transport and highways, said: "While this proposal is still at an early stage, this is a promising step and we can't wait to hear people's views once it's been developed further.

"We're serious about fighting the climate emergency and improving air quality - and doing all we can to reduce car journeys in favour of healthier, more affordable and less polluting alternatives plays a major part in that.

"Although we're encouraging people to change their behaviour through incentives and education, provided by our My Journey Wokingham team, we're also working to secure the infrastructure that will make that more appealing.

"Given the pressures on our own finances and the need to protect key services, this scheme is heavily dependent on external funding but we’ll do all we can to secure it."

Joining communities more sustainably

The route would improve sustainable travel links to the railway station and residential areas west of the town centre, as well as new housing on the borough’s major development at North Wokingham.

It would improve access to the North Wokingham Distributor RoadWinnersh Relief Road and the A329 through Winnersh, all of which have a shared footway and cycleway along their length.

Additionally, it would improve walking, wheeling and cycling connections to the Emmbrook and Holt schools as well as other amenities like local sports clubs and places of worship.

Work could start next year but this would depend on people's views during consultation and enough funding being available from elsewhere.

The council has set up a group, featuring Wokingham Town Council and Winnersh Parish Council representatives, to discuss the initial vision before residents are invited to help finalise it.

A network to meet tomorrow’s challenges

The need for the scheme was identified through the council's borough-wide Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, a high-level strategy document published earlier this year.

This was shaped by people's feedback following consultation last summer and outlines the areas where improvements could have the greatest benefit – and the biggest impact on issues like road safety and air pollution.

The council is still working to progress another proposal, also to come from the Active Travel Fund, for a cycleway and footway between Woodley town centre and Palmer Park off Wokingham Road, near Reading Borough.

It has consulted residents twice on this but needs more funding before it can move forward, so is now in discussions with Active Travel England.

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