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West Berkshire Council making changes to Thatcham Orcas

Independent auditor currently assessing active travel scheme

John Herring

John Herring


01635 886633

West Berkshire Council making changes to Thatcham safety Orcas

Orcas through Thatcham will have their safety reviewed, but West Berkshire Council will not be adding further warnings to alert drivers and cyclists.

The Orcas, rubber blocks separating cycle lanes from the carriageway, were installed as part of a Government request for pop-up cycle infrastructure for emergency active travel schemes during the coronavirus pandemic.

The scheme aims to encourage more people to cycle following changes to work and travel habits brought about by Covid-19.

The Orcas were meant to be piloted between Henwick Lane and Tull Way, but have been installed from Tull Way to Gables Way in Colthrop under the active travel scheme.

Two weeks ago the Newbury Weekly News reported that town councillors had raised safety concerns and asked for improvements, with Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) requesting the Orcas be removed in six months time.

Councillors said that some of the devices had already been damaged and that a lack of signage and lighting would be hazardous in the darker winter months.

Responding to the concerns, West Berkshire Council spokeswoman Peta Stoddart-Crompton said: "We're aware that a few of the Orcas appear to have scuffed from being overrun and one came loose and was promptly removed by our contractor.

"Now that drivers are used to the Orcas and the new road layout we've asked the contractor to return to make a few changes to their positions in line with feedback that we have received from residents, motorists and cyclists.

"We are due to install additional red banding to the pole Orcas to make them more visible to drivers in daylight.

"However there are no plans to add cat's eyes or other signage because the physical measures installed in the mandatory cycle lane means that it is illegal for motorists to enter the cycle lane, except in an emergency when it is safe to do so."

Signs to warn traffic of the new mandatory cycle lane have also been installed.

The council said the active travel schemes had to be reviewed and that the Orcas were now being evaluated.

A road safety audit was conducted before their installation and the council has asked for the independent safety auditor to return to assess the scheme.

The local authority said that changes could be implemented based on any recommendations made in the report.

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