The first cycling scheme to help with social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic will be completed on Friday.

Work to create northbound and southbound temporary cycle lanes on Reading Bridge will begin on Wednesday and be finalised on Friday so it is complete in time for the reopening of the town centre high street on Monday, June 15.

The introduction of a cycle lane on Reading Bridge has been one of the most controversial of the seven initial plans being introduced by Reading Borough Council (RBC) to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.

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One reader said: “The Reading Bridge plan is utterly ridiculous. It’ll cause huge tailbacks in rush hour, with associated increase of fumes.

“Surely the whole point of opening Christchurch Bridge to cyclists was to avoid the need for them to use Reading Bridge?”

Another called the plans “appalling” and said it will cause “massive disruption” and is “totally unnecessary given there is a dedicated bridge for cyclist and pedestrians 200 yards away” at Christchurch Bridge.

But others have given their support to the plan.

Mike Abdullah, asking a question at a transport strategy Q&A, praised the Reading Bridge plan, while a resident’s association for Caversham has supported the proposal on a temporary basis.

The local Green Party, meanwhile, have set up a petition calling for the council to be more ambitious with its cycling plans. 

Labour councillor Adele Barnett-Ward, responding to concerns from one resident on Twitter, said: “Christchurch Bridge is great but we need more dedicated cycle capacity over the river.

“We looked at introducing cycle lanes on Caversham Bridge as well but that needs physical infrastructure changes so can’t be done fast .

“We eventually need two way cycle lines there as well.”

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Over three quarters of respondents to last year’s transport strategy consultation supported re-allocating road space for cycling and walking.

Speaking at a Policy meeting in May, councillor Tony Page, lead member for Environment, Planning and Transport, said: “We have a proud record of extensive prior consultation but that’s at a time where we had the ability to spend time. We are now in an emergency situation.

“We don’t know how effective and popular these schemes will be.

“We will monitor them and if we move to make them permanent they will be subject to a full consultation.”

The government advises people to avoid using public transport where possible due to social distancing guidelines.

In addition, RBC is encouraging people to walk or cycle when travelling around town, to help maintain the positive environmental resulting from a decline in car journeys during the lockdown.

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