Five (Bike) Things I Love About Forbury Gardens

As a campaigning group, we work to draw attention to areas of Reading where improvements to cycling infrastructure are needed. However, I think it’s also important to notice where cycling infrastructure works well. Here, therefore, is my list of things I love about Forbury Gardens.

1. Bike Specific Infrastructure

A proper bike lane

Approaching Forbury Gardens from the South, after crossing Forbury Road, cyclists find themselves for a short stretch in their own specific path. In most of Reading cyclists are either expected to mix with motor vehicles (with a painted line to protect us, if we’re lucky), or to share space with pedestrians (with a painted line to suggest that we take half the path each, if we’re lucky) which substantially reduces the speed at which we can safely travel. Here the bike path runs along side the pedestrian path, but, crucially, at a different height to it. It makes a big difference, and I’m glad the new bike lane on Shinfield Road has been built this way too.

2. Low Motor Traffic Levels

Cars are definitely permitted on the roads around Forbury Gardens – there’s parking and you see the odd one driving around – but for whatever reason (presumably the combination of one way streets/bollards/bus only zones) it isn’t an area that gets used as a rat run and the traffic that comes through tends to move at a sensible speed and observe give way lines. I think I see more buses than cars here, and the low traffic levels mean that it’s one of the few places (outside of Kidical Mass) where cars are allowed that we’ve let our children ride their own bikes.

3. The Amazing Bollard Placement

3 bollards being not equidistant

Presumably contributing to those low traffic levels are the bollards under the Abbey Archway. Every time I come through these they make me happy. The central one isn’t quite central, which means that one of the gaps is bigger. My cargo bike is (slightly) wider than a standard bike, and I can slip through easily without worrying. It’s a great example of how accessibility improvements can help multiple groups of people – wheelchair users, families with pushchairs and unusual bicycles can all benefit. I’m really glad someone put a bit of thought in when installing the bollards here.

4. Accessible Cycle Parking

Speaking of accessibility, I love that there is bike parking right by Forbury Gardens, and that the pavement is profiled such that I can walk round to it without having to push my bike over a kerb. I can do that, if I need to, but with two kids on the back it can get pretty heavy! So I really notice here that the bike parking is easy to navigate.

5. Kidical Mass Memories

All of our early Kidical Mass rides finished at Forbury Gardens, and some of them still do. We’ve ridden to climate festival and children’s festival events there (two causes very well aligned with Kidical Mass goals). I’ve eaten some excellent cake in that garden, and seen kids visit with Santa (and have their bike given a tune up by his elf). When I’m in the gardens it brings back lovely memories of seeing the kids run and play together.

If you too would like to come and make memories with us, please join us for our next ride on 20th April. We’d love to see you.