Racers prepare for a new road design with an innovative piece of painted tarmac
A forward-thinking council that is installing new, colorful road markings has created a practice board on the tarmac to allow horses to get used to the designs ahead of time.
Wokingham Borough Council is planning an ‘innovative overhaul’ of the California junction at Finchampstead, which includes multi-coloured leaf patterns on the tarmac near two mini roundabouts, aimed at making them more attractive and encouraging drivers to slow down. There will also be white sheets painted over the new crossings, “to make the area feel less centered around vehicles,” a council spokesman said.
“The level crossing is also used by equestrians to move between local bridle paths and when consulted many said they would like the chance to get used to the new patterns of leaves,” he added.
‘The council agreed this was important as horses can get nervous around unfamiliar surfaces, so they worked with their motorways consultant WSP and the nearby Wheatlands Farm livery yard to fit a surfacing panel marked with the designs of leaves.
“It allows riders to do as much off-road training as they need before they encounter the real thing.
“The council previously extended the California Way, one of its generally traffic-free ‘greenways’ connecting major destinations in the borough, to provide cyclists with an alternative to crossing at California Crossroads.”
Cllr Paul Fishwick, the council’s executive member for active travel, transport and highways, said the council wanted to make its roads “safer and friendlier for all forms of alternative travel”.
“While walking and cycling come first to many people’s minds, horseback riding is another popular option, especially in the rural areas that make up much of our leafy and beautiful borough,” said- he declared.
“We take resident feedback very seriously, so we were delighted to work with the local equestrian community to find a way to make the upcoming improvements more accessible to them. This will allow them to safely enjoy the same benefits as other people who cross on foot, in wheelchairs, on bicycles, on scooters and other types of active transportation.
“I’m happy to hear that the panel proved popular, which should give riders plenty of time to prepare.”
Work is due to start next year.
Nicola Greenwood, who runs Wheatlands Farm and is also the British Horse Society’s access and bridle path manager for the area, added: ‘The trial panel is proving invaluable to local riders, allowing them to introduce their horses to the colorful design in a safe, controlled environment.
“It allows riders to take all the time they need to familiarize their horses with the design and we are very grateful to the board and WSP for their help in providing this training aid.”
Use of the sign is free, but reservations must be made in advance so that each runner has enough time. Anyone interested should email [email protected]
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Credit: PAUL NIXON PHOTOGRAPHY PAUL NIXON
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