West Berkshire Council

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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Find information about community support and our services during the coronavirus pandemic, on our information for residents pages, our information for businesses pages, and our community support hub page which has guidance to help coordinate community organisations.

See a summary of our Local Outbreak Control Plan and read our frequently asked questions. 

Emergency Active Travel Fund

Changes to road layouts and new infrastructure to encourage active travel

Covid-19 Road Sign

The coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis has had a terrible impact on the lives and health of many UK citizens, and has had severe economic consequences. One of the few positive aspects to come out of the current crisis appears to be that people are exercising more often and there has been a higher uptake of active travel as people have discovered, or rediscovered, cycling and walking. In some places, there's been a reported 70 percent rise in the number of people on bikes - for exercise, or for safe, socially-distanced travel. According to the West Berkshire [ARCHIVED] Covid-19: Residents' Survey 46.9% of respondents said they would travel on foot more or much more and 23% said they would travel by bicycle more or much more when asked which travel modes they would use in the next 6 months compared to the previous year.

According to the National Travel Survey, in 2017-18 over 40 percent of urban journeys were under two miles - perfectly suited to walking and cycling. With public transport capacity reduced as people return to work, our road network may struggle to cope if all of our residents choose to drive instead.

Active travel is affordable, delivers significant health benefits, has been shown to improve wellbeing, mitigates congestion, improves air quality and has no carbon emissions at the point of use. Towns and cities based around active travel will have happier and healthier citizens as well as lasting local economic benefits. Indications are that there is a significant link between Covid-19 recovery and fitness and therefore active travel can help us become more resilient.

Station Rd
Station Rd

The government therefore expects local authorities to make changes to their road layouts and provide new infrastructure to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians in a "green restart". In the short term this will help provide more space for cyclists and pedestrians to stay safe and maintain social distance as shops and businesses reopen and people return to work. Longer term we are hoping such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel and make sure the transport networks support recovery from the Covid-19 emergency to provide a lasting legacy of greener, safer transport.

West Berkshire Council was awarded £619,000 from the Department for Transport as part of the Emergency Active Travel Fund to improve cycling and walking in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The allocation is part of the government's emergency active travel fund and is broken down into two phases.

Phase One:

Under phase one, we focused our efforts on measures that were able to be implemented quickly to provide additional road-space for walking and cycling in the short-term. We were awarded £124,000 to introduce pop-up and temporary interventions and you can see the list of locations for the first phase of temporary measures in our excel icon Covid-19 roadspace reallocation document [15kb]. Some of the changes required statutory consultation and creation of a legal doc icon Traffic Regulation Order [14kb]

Orcas
Orcas

 

Some of the improvements that we introduced in the first phase included:

  • additional cycle parking in a number of our towns and villages
  • temporary road closures and parking suspensions to enable social distancing and active travel
  • temporary exemption for cyclists in one-way streets
  • permanent conversions of temporary cycle ways
  • pop-up cycling facilities and conversion of advisory cycle lanes (broken white line) to mandatory cycle lanes (marked by a solid white line which vehicles are not allowed to enter except in an emergency) using light segregation

 

Phase Two:

The phase two funding was announced mid-November and we were able to secure our full allocation of £495,000 to build on the work carried out in phase one.  

      Proposals for the next phase primarily consist of permanent measures to create and improve travel routes for cyclists and pedestrians on the A4 corridor within Newbury and Thatcham. In addition to this, we are consulting on introducing new parking restrictions to protect existing cycle routes in various locations.  The plans also include a pilot School Zone/School Street Scheme in Calcot and restricted access on Lawrence's Lane and Deadman's Lane in Thatcham and Theale respectively. The proposals have been designed to comply with the new Cycle Infrastructure Design Standards LTN1/20 issued by the Department for Transport in the summer. 

      These activities are designed to enhance the safety of pedestrians and cyclists; promote health and wellbeing; improve the environment, air quality and sustainability; and play a key role in COVID-19 economic recovery plans. We received lots of suggestions for proposed schemes and so in order to assess their suitability we used a multi-criteria assessment tool to score and prioritise according to categories such as deliverability (has to be constructed this financial year), strategic fit (part of our coherent network plan as identified in the emerging Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan) and propensity to increase active travel (either journeys to school or commuting) amongst others. In the consultation phase we are not only asking for feedback on the proposed schemes but are also giving you a chance to identify locations in your neighbourhood where improvements could be made to create more accessible streets for active travel, including better public spaces, requests for secure cycle parking and ideas to provide better environments more suited to cycling and walking.

      The consultation goes live on 22nd February 2021 and will last for minimum 6 weeks so please visit our consultation webpage  for details of the schemes and to have your say on the proposals.

      We will follow our pdf icon ATF 2 Consultation Plan [329kb] which will be tailored to suit each specific locality and be delivered proportionately according to scheme size. Consultation material will also be circulated to affected residents, businesses and key stakeholders so that all affected parties get to have their say on the proposed improvements.

       


      Our Council Strategy gives more details on our priorities to make West Berkshire a great place to live, work and visit.