MP pleased to see cy­cling pri­ori­tised

The Wokingham Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS WAR­REN jwar­ren@wok­ing­ham­pa­

ONE OF the bor­ough’s four MPs said he is pleased to see the coun­cil is look­ing to in­vest in safe cy­cle routes for Wood­ley res­i­dents.

Matt Rodda, MP for Read­ing East, which in­cludes Wood­ley and Ear­ley, has been en­cour­ag­ing Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough Coun­cil to make a bid for a share of the £2 bil­lion grant from the Depart­ment for Trans­port.

The fund can be used to widen pave­ments and build cy­cle lanes to cre­ate a safer en­vi­ron­ment for cy­cling.

In the first round of fund­ing an­nounced last­week, Read­ing Bor­ough Coun­cil was granted £221,250, 75% of its fund­ing bid, and Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough Coun­cil was granted £76,000, half of its bid.

Re­spond­ing to the fund­ing al­lo­ca­tion, a spokesper­son for Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough Coun­cil said: “We were dis­ap­pointed to not re­ceive the full amount.

“The fund­ing was for Emer­gency Ac­tive Travel which is not re­stricted to cy­cling, and our work in Wok­ing­ham town cen­tre has en­abled much im­proved ac­cess for pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists.

“We un­der­stand from the Depart­ment for Trans­port that other au­thor­i­ties pro­duced what, in their view, were stronger bids and so they elected to re­al­lo­cate fund­ing to th­ese schemes.

“We are con­tin­u­ing to de­velop schemes for the sec­ond tranche of fund­ing and will be li­ais­ing with the Depart­ment for Trans­port to try to en­sure we re­ceive the full amount.”

Mr Rodda, who is also the shadow min­is­ter for lo­cal trans­port, hopes to see the fund­ing used to im­prove cy­cling con­nec­tions be­tween Wok­ing­ham and Read­ing bor­oughs to help com­muters, and build bet­ter cy­cle routes to Wood­ley town cen­tre.

Leader of Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough Coun­cil, Cllr John Hal­sall, said: “Matt Rodda is quite ex­cited about his shadow brief.

“We met on Mon­day and he wants to help sup­port us ap­ply for grants to im­prove cy­cling in the bor­ough.

“As a bor­ough coun­cil, we’ve been do­ing this for a long time, there are lots of cy­cle routes be­ing cre­ated. We in­tend to work with him to ex­tend the cy­cle routes from Read­ing to Wok­ing­ham.”

Mr Rodda said: “I’m pleased that Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough Coun­cil is now look­ing at in­vest­ing in cy­cling in Wood­ley town cen­tre.

“It’s a re­ally im­por­tant idea, and I’m pleased they lis­tened to the points I raised.

“If done well, this could re­ally ben­e­fit fam­i­lies want­ing to cy­cle shorter, lo­cal jour­neys to the shops, parks or Bul­mer­she Leisure Cen­tre.

Re­search from sci­ence jour­nal, Bri­tish So­cial At­ti­tudes found that 63% of peo­ple take the car for a jour­ney of less than two miles at least once a week.

And Mr Rodda thinks one of the big­gest de­ter­rents to cy­cling is the fear of traf­fic.

“It’s about help­ing peo­ple feel safe to cy­cle, widen­ing pave­ments and cre­at­ing a ded­i­cated cy­cle path,” he said.

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