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Public consultation on Theale 'active' lane proposal

Pilot scheme would see lane shut to motor vehicle traffic

Deadman's Lane in Theale is among the roads identified by West Berkshire Council for conversion into a motor vehicle-free 'active street' – and residents are being invited to have their say on the plans.

Under proposals unveiled last week, a large section of Deadman's Lane would be sealed off with planters or bollards.

This would encourage its use as a cycling and walking route and could also enhance road safety around nearby Theale Green School.

A summary provided online outlines the scheme, saying: "We're proposing to stop motor vehicles from entering Deadman's Lane at all times to create a quiet route for recreational access to the countryside.

"We propose a physical closure using either bollards or planters north of its junction with Spring Gardens.

"From earlier engagements, residents and cyclists indicated a preference for more cycling and walking as a leisure pursuit in this location.

"As such, this scheme proposes a pilot to restrict motor traffic in this rural lane to create a safer, more attractive route to be used by those on foot and bicycles and reducing conflict with general vehicle traffic."

The digital consultation runs through to April 23, after which obstructions may be installed in the lane as part of a pilot scheme.

This will be reviewed after six to nine months.

In general, debate around the plans have focused on the extent of the lane's use by cyclists and pedestrians.

Some villagers have noticed a lack of traffic along the road, and believe limiting its use would have little downside.

To illustrate this point, one consultee said: "In my experience the road is used by more pedestrians/cyclists than motorists.

"I have had near misses with cars who drive far too fast.

"Motorists can use other roads nearby that would take maybe 30 seconds longer.

"At very little inconvenience to them but a huge increase in safety for pedestrians, closing the road to cars is the logical choice."

Others have challenged these assumptions, however.

They argue that any lack of traffic – and any increase in the lane's use by walkers and cyclists – is due to temporary lockdown conditions.

An opponent of the scheme said: "Once life is getting back to normal there won't be hardly any pedestrian activity in Deadman's Lane.

"I've been cycling that way for years and rarely met any vehicles or people.

"It's only being used now because of the pandemic.

"People need to remember it is a road, a road without a pathway, so why should it be closed when there are other places that pedestrians can access?

"It is also used when traffic has to be diverted for various reasons."

While welcoming the gist of the scheme, another member of the public expressed concern that horse riders were being left out.

They said: "Please consider all users and employ an inclusive classification of this route which will exclude motorised vehicles and include horse riders as well as cyclists and walkers.

"It is important to remember that horse riders are also vulnerable road users.

"No horse rider actually wants to be in a live road unless there is no alternative way to reach safer routes such as byways and bridleways.

"Help them please."

To read about the proposal – and make a submission to the consultation – visit the Active Streets website.

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