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Traffic demand management is unavoidable, says Reading


Andrew Forster
23 March 2020

Road traffic demand management measures will have to be introduced in Reading because of the council’s declared ‘climate emergency’, poor air quality, and forecast road traffic growth, says the unitary authority. 

“Continuing with the status quo is not an option,” says the Labour-controlled council’s new draft 2036 transport strategy, due to be issued for consultation next week. “Alongside providing sustainable alternatives we must manage demand. This will involve making difficult choices.”

It says “some or all” of the following measures may have to be implemented: a clean air zone; emissions-based charging, such as for parking; road user charging; and a workplace parking levy. 

“We acknowledge that a demand management scheme cannot be delivered without reasonable alternative travel provision, such as public transport, in place,” says Reading. 

“Therefore, we will implement demand management through a phased approach that can adapt to changing travel patterns (for example a shift towards electric vehicles) and also allow the delivery of sustainable transport infrastructure in tandem.”

Road user charges will provide a revenue stream for “sustainable transport options”.

Some of the demand management measures could only be implemented in partnership with neighbouring Wokingham and West Berkshire councils. 

“Whilst we will deliver demand management within Reading borough, it should be noted that the administrative boundaries of Reading mean key employment sites, such as the University of Reading and Green Park, will be split across boundaries. 

“In the case of Thames Valley Business Park and Arlington Business Park, these will be entirely outside of the borough. Given the large number of trips that are generated by these sites, we will commence discussions on the proposed options with Wokingham Borough and West Berkshire councils at an early stage.” 

The strategy outlines a range of investment proposals, including a major road scheme north of Reading – the North Reading Orbital Route – that would connect into the proposed new Thames crossing to the east of the town. The bridge was the second highest priority scheme submitted by sub-national transport body Transport for the South East to the DfT’s Large Local Majors funding round last summer.  

The orbital road would connect the A4074 to the A4155, and remove traffic from the bridge over the River Thames at Caversham in north Reading. The new road would also facilitate the construction of a park-and-ride site in  north Reading.  

Other plan proposals include Fast Track Public Transport (FTPR) bus corridors. These include along the A33 from the south; from the soon-to-open  park-and-ride site at Thames Valley Park in the east; from a new West park-and-ride on the A329 corridor; and from a new P&R in the southwest at junction 12 of the M4.

Some of these P&R proposals are also dependent on collaboration with neighbouring authorities because the unitary council’s boundaries are tightly drawn around the Reading urban area.

More active travel routes are proposed and the council is keen to re-establish a bike hire scheme to serve Reading and the wider area.  

Targets include: 

  • reducing traffic to, from and through the town centre by 20 per cent by 2036, from 22,100 vehicles a day (2017-2019 average) to 17,600
  • growing bus use by 25 per cent from 22.5 million in 2018/19 to 28.1 million trips by 2036 
  • doubling park-and-ride use from 530,536 in 2019 by 2036. 
  • growing public transport trips into the town centre from 50,700 a day (2017-2019 average) to 73,500 by 2036
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