A PUBLIC consultation on the creation of an official new cycle route along the Thames Path begins on Thursday this week (April 27) and will run for a period of four weeks.
The statutory consultation involves the south side of the Thames Path, running from the Roebuck Hotel in the west to where it meets the Kennet mouth in the east. The legal status of this 6,450 metre stretch is a public right of way by foot only.
Despite its current status, the Council is aware that the Thames Path is regularly used as an unofficial cycle route, and that many cyclists consider it as a missing element of the local cycle network.
The opening of Christchurch Bridge in 2015 – Reading Borough Council’s pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Thames – has encouraged even more people to consider cycling. The popular new bridge has resulted in increased levels of cycling in the vicinity of the River Thames and along the Thames Path. Cycle trips in the area are expected to continue to increase in the future.
The current prohibition of cycling along the Thames Path means cyclists are forced to divert onto the busy roundabout junctions at Vastern Road and Caversham Road where there are high traffic flows, or to divert to the north side of the river.
The Council is now proposing to change the legal status of this stretch of Thames Path to a joint footpath and cycle route, meaning it can legally be used by both pedestrians and cyclists.
A four week statutory consultation begins on Thursday April 27 and will run until Tuesday May 25th. Notices advertising the consultation will be placed along the length of the Thames Path and will also be advertised in the public notices section of the local press.
Responses to the consultation can be submitted through a dedicated consultation web page (from Thursday April 27) at https://consult.reading.gov.uk/dens/proposed-thames-path-cycle-track, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or in writing to Reading Borough Council, FAO: Transport Planning – Thames Path Consultation, Floor 1, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading RG1 2LU.
Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“The issue of creating an official cycle route along the Thames Path is a long-standing one, and one which has been brought into sharper focus by the success of Christchurch Bridge in encouraging cycling as a real alternative for people.
“It is no surprise that the Council’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge has resulted in more cycling movements around and along the Thames Path, and we are now in a position where it makes sense to consider a proposal to create an official cycle route along the Thames Path, which would be shared with pedestrians.
“The Thames Path not only links the town centre to Caversham via Christchurch Bridge, but also provides access to schools, leisure facilities, businesses and residential areas throughout the urban area.
“The consultation period for the proposal runs for a period of four weeks from April 27th. I would urge residents and regular and infrequent users of the Thames Path to take some time to have their say.”
The results of the statutory consultation will be reported back to the Council in the summer. At this point, the Cycle Track Order will either be confirmed by the Council if there are no outstanding objections, or referred to the Secretary of State for a final decision.