Everyone who walks, cycles, takes public transport or drives is asked to answer a few questions to help Wokingham Borough Council make this safer and easier as it faces the challenges of the decades ahead.
The council needs people’s views to help it write a new, updated version of its Local Transport Plan, an official document guiding how it maintains and improves footways, cycle lanes, roads and other transport networks for many years to come.
This will offer residents more ways of getting around and more chances to leave the car at home, especially for shorter journeys. As the local highways authority, the council is promoting this to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, tackle the climate emergency, address inequality and help people live healthier lives.
During this initial engagement, which runs from Wednesday, 1 February until Sunday, 12 March, the council wants views on ideas like more support for electric vehicles, more cycle parking, and providing more space for pedestrians on pavements in village and town centres.
This process is still at an early stage and will be followed by more detailed consultation, but everyone should take part now so it reflects the community's needs and wishes from the outset. To respond, visit the Engage Wokingham Borough page.
Building on successes and moving with the times
All highways authorities must have an up-to-date Local Transport Plan that looks to the future and sets strategies for every part of the network. This must be presented to the Department for Transport and can help secure Government funding.
Wokingham Borough’s current plan, which runs until 2026, has provided benefits like its mostly traffic-free “greenways” and improvements to Wokingham town centre, including the interchange with bus access at the station and a new link from Wellington Road to Reading Road.
It has also resulted in major new roads like the Winnersh and Arborfield relief roads, the latter of which won an award for measures benefiting wildlife, and upgrades to existing roads plus new footways and cycleways like the Bader Way from Woodley to Winnersh Triangle and Dinton Pastures Country Park.
Most schemes that the existing plan outlines are now completed - and with changing travel trends and a greater focus on the climate emergency, which the council declared in 2019, it must be refreshed to better meet local demand and the issues facing the borough.
Helping to make greener, healthier changes
Cllr Paul Fishwick, executive member for active travel, transport and highways, said: “We're proud of what we've accomplished with our current Local Transport Plan but, looking to the future, we've got to be even more serious about the impact of vehicle transport on the environment.
“The root cause of congestion is too many cars on the roads, but we need to encourage more people to leave them at home by providing infrastructure that makes this feasible and helps them feel safe to use it, alongside a reliable local bus network that’s vital to the community and the economy. Our new Local Transport Plan will be at the heart of this approach.
“While we can’t always avoid building new roads, they aren’t a viable long-term solution to the problems facing our community and the wider world – there’s got to be a shift towards more environmentally friendly alternatives.
“Please help us understand what’s important to you when getting around, so that we can consider the changes we need to help everyone lessen their day-to-day impact on the environment.”
Tackling the issue from all angles
The Local Transport Plan incorporates strategies like the council’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, which it consulted on last year and hopes to publish soon. This will suggest improvements over the next decade or so and help to secure funding, though none is currently allocated and there would be further consultation before any schemes went ahead.
The council is striving to protect Wokingham borough’s bus routes as operators continue to grapple with the impact of covid-19 and inflationary pressures, and continues to make progress on a new greenway linking Wokingham town with Arborfield via Woosehill.
Last year it also opened the North Wokingham Distributor Road and Nine Mile Ride Extension near Arborfield, both of which will alleviate congestion locally while offering walking and cycling opportunities with a separate shared footway and cycleway.
For help completing the Local Transport Plan early engagement survey, or for alternative formats, contact the council’s customer services team on 0118 974 6000 or visit one of its libraries.
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