Reading Borough Council (RBC) offered its support this week to the sustainable transport charity Sustrans in their project to remove motorcycle barriers on the Kennet Path between the Katesgrove Lane IDR underpass and Fobney Lock.
RBC deputy leader Councillor Tony Page said that the council supported Sustrans’ approach in making the path more cycle-friendly by removing the current barriers, but added that:
Misgivings have been expressed about the potential for unleashing problems again that the barriers were put in originally to address, namely particularly on Waterloo Meadows the abuse by motorcyclists.
…Councillor Rose Williams, as Katesgrove ward member on this working group, [and] our ASB [anti-social behaviour] officers… have repeatedly made the point that… in supporting the changes that Sustrans are promoting… if there is a recurrence of the problem, then we would revert back to more draconian restrictions.
…Sustrans have indicated that they would be willing to then look at re-instating the previous barriers.
Councillor David Absolom expressed doubts that there would be any “rush” in motorcycle use on the Fobney Lock section of the path, because motorcyclists were already using the path anyway.
RBC network and parking manager Simon Beasley said that the new CCTV cameras on the path would not be monitored live, but would store data for later review if an incident was reported.
The Department of Transport announced in 2019 that they had awarded Sustrans £21 million to improve the UK’s cycling and walking network. Sustrans has chosen to launch this Paths for Everyone project with the Kennet path in Reading. They intend to remove barriers to cycles from the IDR underpass at Katesgrove Lane through to the Fobney Lock, as well as widen and improve the path, clear vegetation and add solar studs and CCTV cameras.
Sustrans’ Kennet Path improvement plans. Drawings courtesy of (c) Sustrans.
Sustrans has conducted a public consultation and several drop-in events in the area over the last few months to gauge local reaction to their plans. The full set of planning diagrams are available online.
Sustrans network development manager Peter Challis said the work was due to start in late January 2020 and continue until late March. They will be using RBC’s own highways team to do the work.