A consultation has begun on allowing cyclists in Reading to use the train station pedestrian tunnel.
The tunnel is a vital link to bypass the Reading train station building for those heading north to Vastern Road and Caversham, and those heading south towards the town centre.
But cyclists are theoretically banned from going through the tunnel on their bikes due to safety concerns and the height of the ceiling not meeting national guidelines for cyclists to use.
Currently, cyclists must dismount and push their bikes through the tunnel.
That’s because the council imposed a Cycling Prohibition Order (CPO) on the route when the train station upgrade project was completed in 2013.
Jason Brock (Labour, Southcote) and Tony Page, lead councillor for transport, have both branded the tunnel as ‘sub-standard’.
It has also been noted that the ceilings of the tunnel are subject to regular vandalism, with cllr Harry Kretchmer (Conservative, Emmer Green) raising the issue last summer.
The council now intends to spend more than £200,000 in developer contributions to improve the ceilings and increase head clearance to make the tunnel safer for cyclists.
The council claims these changes would allow it to consider removing the existing cycling prohibition.
Although the height and width of the subway would still be below national guidelines, the refurbishment work would allow the council to accept the position and to revoke the historic CPO.
A consultation on the removal of the prohibition order has begun and will run until Thursday, February 23.
You can take part in it using this link.
Announcing the consultation, councillor Page said: “Proposals to remove the existing cycling prohibition order have been a long time coming. Regular pedestrians will of course know that the underpass is already frequently used by cyclists – albeit technically illegal under the current traffic order.
“This route is a key link between the Caversham side of the station and the town centre and it has always been an anomaly that cycling was banned at this location, due to the low ceilings the council inherited from Network Rail when the station was redeveloped a decade ago.
“The council is pushing ahead and delivering key new strategic cycle routes across the town, with the Shinfield Road segregated cycle lanes currently under construction, and then Bath Road/Castle Hill later this year. The station subway would be a welcome addition to our growing number of cycle routes across Reading.
“Our refurbishment works along the subway, due to begin in early spring, now enable us to consider the removal of the existing order. I’d encourage as many users of the subway as possible to take part in the public consultation launched today, whether cyclists or pedestrians or regular or occasional users. All feedback will be considered as part of the final decision-making process in the spring.”