Mon, 05 Oct 2020
COUNCILLORS have called for cycle safety Orcas to be improved or removed altogether.
West Berkshire Council installed the Orcas in July under Government coronavirus guidance, to promote alternative modes of travel during the pandemic.
The devices were planned to be installed on the A4 between Henwick Lane and the Pound Lane roundabout, but have been extended along the A4 from Tull Way to Gables Way.
The council has said the Orcas would be a temporary measure that could become permanent.
Opposing the Orcas, Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) asked for them to be removed in six months time.
Mr Crumly said that “half or two-thirds of the road through Thatcham is now covered with them”.
He said: “I admit that I’m not anti-cyclist, but I am pro-motor vehicle.
“This road is the A4 providing an artery for all vehicles large and small through Thatcham.
“I’m concerned that the Orcas maybe making the road too narrow in certain areas.
“I wonder if all this time, money and effort justifies the segregation of this section of the carriageway.
“To me, it’s theft of carriageway from motor vehicles that use it in favour of cyclists who are not using it very much.
Mr Crumly said he had seen photos of some of the Orcas and accompanying safety poles being uprooted already.
He said: “These posts that have popped up in Orcas could be a hazard to cyclists and motorists.
“They have a sloping side toward the cycle lane that could be a hazard if a cyclist were to hit or rebound off it.
Mr Crumly asked for the Orcas to be treated as temporary and be removed in six months time.
Simon Pike (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said the legislation used to install the Orcas did not have a time limit.
But he added: “There are some places where it doesn’t comply with Government guidance.
“It’s a good and honest attempt to improve things, but I think there are options to refine it.”
Town council leader David Lister (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said: “I welcome the approach of West Berkshire Council of encouraging active travel.
“As a cyclist you do feel slightly safer when in a lane that has Orcas.”
But he did raise concerns about visibility.
He said: “When I look at the number of Orcas at least half of them have been hit.
“That does make me feel uncomfortable.
“I feel these are going to cause a hazard in the winter months.
“I’m supportive of the approach taken to improve safety, but this as it stands at the moment is a hazard and I urge West Berkshire Council to look at things like cat’s eyes.
“If that’s not possible then reduce the speed.
“HGVs and cyclists don’t mix well so the speed needs to come down.”
Mr Pike said that the first Orca at Colthrop appeared without any additional signage in a national speed limit.
He said: “If West Berkshire Council is serious it needs to look at the speed limit and I think the Colthrop end is probably more serious than the western end.”
Responding to Mr Crumly’s points, Richard Foster (Lib Dem, Thatcham Colthrop and Crookham) said: “What Orcas do is force motorists to stick to the carriageway so they don’t drift into it.
“What’s the point of a cycle lane if motorists can drift into it?
“I think these Orcas actually force motorists to think how they drive on the road and make sure they don’t drift into the cycle way.
“All it does is force them to be better in their discipline, which they should be in the first place, so I don’t think we should condemn them.”