Wokingham Active Speed Maps Launched

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Walking, wheeling and cycling can be quicker for local journeys than driving, as the latest campaign by Wokingham Borough Council shows.

The council has produced seven “speed route” maps illustrating how short trips can be quicker without the car at peak times – or a similar length, but without the hassle and expense.

The maps cover different parts of the borough, focusing on areas where congestion is more likely and where shops, green spaces and other amenities are close by. They include shared paths and shortcuts that aren’t accessible by car, providing a safer, healthier, cheaper and convenient alternative.

They’re part of a Government-funded campaign by the council’s My Journey Wokingham team to encourage interest in active and sustainable travel.

For regular advice on active travel swaps, residents can follow the team on social media or subscribe to its monthly newsletter. They can also visit www.myjourneywokingham.com for a wide range of borough-wide walking and cycling routes, as well as information on local buses and trains.

Safe and easy to get where you’re going

The routes, which are being shared on My Journey’s social media channels, are as follows (all driving times provided are at peak times):

  • Arborfield Green to California Country Park: can be cycled, partly off-road, via Hazebrouck Meadows and the California Way in 10 minutes. Driving can be more than 16 minutes
  • Copsewood, North Wokingham to Wokingham rail station: can be cycled in nine minutes while driving can be more than 12 minutes
  • Shinfield Meadows playground to School Green, Shinfield: can be walked in seven minutes, including a long stretch of car-free footpath, while driving can take over seven minutes
  • Maiden Erlegh nature reserve, Earley to Woodley town centre: can be cycled in 13 minutes while driving can take more than 16 minutes
  • Woosehill (Morrisons supermarket) to Wokingham Community Hospital: can be cycled in six minutes while driving can take up to 12 minutes
  • Arborfield Green to Henry Street Garden Centre, Arborfield: can be cycled in eight minutes via the Observer Way relief road, which has an off road shared-use footpath and cycle path. This is about the same time as driving at peak hours
  • Wokingham Community Hospital to Wokingham Town Hall: can be walked in 19 minutes, only about three minutes longer than driving at peak hours

A direct way of reducing congestion

By completing five walks of 2km (1.24 miles) a week instead of driving, it’s estimated that people can decrease their carbons emissions by 86kg a year. This should take just over 150 minutes each week, meeting the NHS’ activity recommendations for adults.

As well as being healthier, travelling actively for short distances addresses the root cause of traffic congestion by reducing unnecessary car journeys. This lowers harmful exhaust emissions, which improves air quality as well as helping the council’s ongoing efforts to reach carbon neutrality.

More than a quarter of commutes in the borough are under 5km (three miles), yet more than 70 per cent of these are made by car – so residents can make a big difference by trying alternatives.

Cllr Paul Fishwick, executive member for active travel, transport and highways, said: “We’re doing all we can to create more opportunities for walking and cycling, with external funding, and are encouraging people to make the most of these.

“There are many instances where it’s quicker than driving – and even where the journey times are similar, the health and environmental benefits are far greater. If you’ve never tried it before, why not start with some small changes a few times a week?

“It doesn’t have to be a big commitment, and you might be surprised at how easy it is to build healthy and sustainable habits into your routine.”

Lots of ways to help you get moving

The council is working to improve active travel on numerous fronts through strategies like its borough-wide Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) and Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), both published following consultation last year.

It is now consulting on its new Local Transport Plan, an overarching strategy that will prioritise active travel while aiming to make the roads safer for everyone, and recently extended the deadline until Friday, 8 March to ensure everyone has the chance to comment.

The council has secured funding for new walking and cycling routes from Active Travel England and is progressing plans for improvements between Winnersh and Wokingham town, subject to further consultation and external funding.

Other routes identified in the LCWIP could follow in due course and, among many other initiatives, the council is also:

•          working to help bus services recover from the impact of the pandemic

•          seeking funding to continue installing electric vehicle chargepoints around the borough

•          carrying out active travel and air quality education in schools through My Journey

Wokingham Active Speed Maps Information

For more information, see www.myjourneywokingham.com