New cycle hub in town centre gets the green light
- Proposed cycle hub at the former Primark unit in central Reading
- Enclosed cycle facility would combine cycle parking and maintenance facilities
- Supported by Primark and run in partnership with Ethical Reading and The Reading Bicycle Kitchen
AN EXCITING NEW cycle hub for Reading, boasting enclosed bike parking and maintenance facilities, received the green light last week.
Plans for the cycle hub, including the change of unit use at 32 West Street, were approved at Planning Committee on 2 November.
The proposed town centre hub is designed to provide more secure and enclosed town centre cycle parking facilities for up to approximately 82 bicycles, with both experienced and novice cyclists in mind. It is envisaged that customers would use an App to book access to the hub.
There is also the potential for other activities to be run from the hub such as a bicycle loan and/or bicycle donation scheme, through the Council working with local cycle partners to provide these activities.
Following extensive research into properties in the town centre, the Council has chosen to locate the hub within a unit at 32-41 West Street, the site of the former Primark Store, which is still owned by the company. It will initially run for one year with funding from the Department for Transport (DfT), beyond which the continuation of the scheme will be subject to evaluation and the ability to secure a sustainable venue and further funding.
Reading cycle hub is planned to be open 7 days a week, from 7 am to 7 pm and will open in the new year.
Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport, said: “I’m pleased our plans for the cycle hub have been approved and our work towards establishing Reading’s new cycle hub can now progress. Alongside our investment in improvements to cycling and walking routes across the borough, the cycle hub will form an important part of our ambition and vision for active travel in Reading and getting people cycling more.
“I’d like to extend my thanks to the support we’ve received from Primark, in offering the unit at a reduced rate. By working closely in partnership with Reading Bicycle Kitchen and Ethical Reading, we hope to make this initiative a success. The hub may offer the opportunity for people who may not be able to afford a bike, to cycle, through a ‘try before you buy’ donation/loan scheme.
“We hope that the hub will encourage many more people to cycle, particularly those who have concerns with theft and/or vandalism. In addition, we need to incentivise travel by bike for leisure purposes, as well as encourage those who may not normally choose to travel this way to consider it as an option.”
Ethical Reading volunteer Ian Germer, who has worked with fellow volunteers Rob Hill and Susan Children on the project, commented: “We are delighted with the progress the council has made since we raised this idea with them in September 2020. While there has been a lot of attention paid to improving cycle routes, we felt more needed to be done to enable people to feel secure about leaving their bikes in town. This is a great location in the heart of Reading town centre, which we hope will stimulate recreational as well as commuter cycling in and out of Reading. Well done to Reading Council for making this happen.”
Joe Edwards, Chairperson, Reading Cycle Campaign, said: "We are delighted that Reading Borough Council is going ahead with the Cycle Hub offering secure bike parking and complementary services and activities. We feel that the opportunity for cyclists to safely park their bikes in the town centre will help to boost retail and leisure sales, while reducing car traffic. A great step forward!"
Increasing Active Travel remains a top priority for the Council. The proposal to develop a town centre cycle hub sits alongside a range of other projects and initiatives aimed at supporting a shift in travel behaviour to active modes.
A report going to Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee on Wednesday 16 November, will seek spend approval for the Bath Road/Castle Hill Active Travel Fund – Tranche 3 scheme, which will provide segregated cycle facilities and pedestrian enhancements on the Bath Road between the town centre and Berkeley Avenue. The next steps will be to complete detailed designs and launch a further public consultation in the new year.
Cllr Tony Page, added: “Our investment in the cycle hub is just one part of the wider picture of increasing active travel in Reading. We have our spend approval request for the Bath Road scheme next week, and our work to implement cycling and walking improvements along the Shinfield Road, from Christchurch Green to Whitley Wood Road, started at the beginning of November. We have also achieved significant improvements in other areas, including the routes on Redlands Road and Christchurch Road, and Sidmouth Street delivered as part of Tranche 1 funding.”
Notes to editors
In April 2021 the DfT announced details of a new ‘Capability Fund’ allocated to all local authorities outside of London. This revenue grant would enable local transport authorities to promote cycling and walking in their areas.
The Council submitted a proposal to the Department for Transport in April 2021 to fund this project, which included a range of initiatives to encourage take-up of cycling alongside funding for the cycle hub.