Mobility scooter user Margaret demonstrates difficulties caused by barriers on NCN route 4 in Reading
We plan to modify the barriers at the Katesgrove Underpass, at both ends of Waterloo Meadows, and at Fobney Lock, so people can use the path more easily.
The modifications will open up access to the traffic-free route to people with bikes, and people using wheelchairs, adapted cycles and mobility aids, who have previously been obstructed by the awkward barriers that were originally installed to deter motorcyclists.
Alongside the changes to the barriers, we will improve the surface of the path, so that people are able to use it year-round, whatever the weather.
James Cleeton, Sustrans England Director South, said: "The barriers on this section of the National Cycle Network prevent so many people from easily using the route. We hope that making these changes will make the path a more appealing and practical option for everyone wishing to use this traffic-free route.
"We know that travelling actively has massive benefits for individuals and the environment, and modifying these barriers will mean even more people are able to take advantage of those benefits."
Margaret Pawson from Disabled Ramblers – a charity working to help make the countryside more accessible to people with limited mobility – said: "Replacing the barriers with mobility friendly designs will give wheelchair users and families with pushchairs access to this wonderful green lung in the center of Reading.
"With the towpath continuing at the Kennet and Avon canal, a whole new area of the countryside will be open to us."
To make sure that the modifications work for people who do or could use the path, we are inviting comments on our proposals. We’ve already held a number of community events to hear people’s ideas, but would like more people to put their views forward.
If you want to share your opinion, please fill in our survey by Thursday 7 November.
Cllr Tony Page, Reading Borough Council's Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said: "As part of its climate emergency agenda the Council is keen to explore opportunities to open up more walking and cycling routes to encourage the greater use of more sustainable ways of getting around Reading.
"By modifying and widening the access route through the barriers at the Katesgrove Underpass, at both ends of Waterloo Meadows, and at Fobney Lock, people will be able to use the path more easily.
“Partners will keep the changes under close review, due to the earlier problems created by irresponsible motorbike use, and this will include the potential to install CCTV and lighting in the future to act as a deterrent to any anti-social behaviour."
This project will help us take another step forward in our plans to deliver Paths for Everyone, our vision for a UK-wide traffic-free network connecting cities, towns and countryside, loved by local communities.