How has Reading empowered its citizens?

Reading Borough Council is a UK unitary authority with a population of around 155,000, which sits within the greater Reading with a population of around 270,000. The modal split in Reading 
is 33% walking, 3% cycling, 45% public transport and 19% private motor vehicle. Reading’s mobility management plan focuses on empowering a modal shift from using the private car to using the bike.


Reading is well connected by rail and road with London less than half an hour away by train but the town suffers from traffic congestion throughout extended peak periods, which causes delays and impacts on the quality of life. Mode share to the town centre is around 50% of journeys by private car with walking and bus journeys accounting for most of the rest. However, for journeys outside the town centre, private car is much more dominant with the car mode share around 70%. Significant investment in public transport in recent years has created an excellent bus service but Reading still needs to get more people out of their cars and cycling represents a key opportunity to do this.


Reading has delivered a wide range of enhancements to increase levels of cycling over recent years. The modal share is rising slowly but remains low compared to other UK Authorities and Europe at around 4% for all trips. Reading’s primary objective is to markedly increase the cycling share of all journeys.


Reading’s BikeSmart programme offered entry into prize draws for prizes such as a new bicycle and vouchers for food, leisure activities and shopping centres. The BetterPoints App was used in the Reading TUC. This incentivises sustainable travel by allowing users to collect points for recording cycle journeys, which can then be exchanged either for donations to charity, or for treats such as coffee and cake at local cafés. All incentives, marketing and information for BikeSmart are delivered via the App. Cycle journeys of more than one mile that entered a 4 mile Reading radius zone qualified for points. Cycle share (ReadyBike) journeys are started with a QR code to differentiate them from ordinary cycle journeys.

BetterPoints were encouraged to work with Love to Ride (a web-based platform) to cross-promote one other and to promote the BikeSmart programme. Baseline data was gathered by combining existing BetterPoints App user data and ReadyBike data with information from questionnaires completed by registrants.


1,092 people registered with the programme via the BetterPoints App and more have engaged in BikeSmart through training and events, and the Love to Ride challenge.

600 participants completed the post-programme survey which recorded a 24% reduction in car use as a result of the programme. This equates to a total weekly reduction of 9,970 vehicle km. On average, each person travelled 16.6 kilometres less by car per week.

21% of people recorded better cycling experiences as a result of the project. Of those who participated in cycle skills sessions, there was a 92% increase in users reporting that they really enjoyed cycling most of the time, and a 100% reduction of those reporting that they had previously had mostly bad experiences.

88% of people who completed the post-programme survey stated that they found the App easy to use. Of those who did not find it easy to use, most stated that issues raised with customer support were rectified or explained.

The App rating on the Google Play store was relatively low at 2.8 out of 5 (56%). The App itself was considered relatively easy to use but performance was affected by technical issues (often outside the control of BetterPoints). Problems with GPS and tracking were identified and although these were generally resolved users did not normally update their original rating.

Over 50% of participants in the project were from a vulnerable travel group (defined as women, those aged over 54 or under 19, those with a long term medical condition or disability, and those who have a tight travel budget). This is likely to be at least partially as a result of the numerous events and training sessions held to encourage face-to-face interaction and the development of skills.

The data gathered from Bikesmart will inform the development of a Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan and a prioritised list of improvements. The Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan will form a core element of Reading’s transport policy, being used to secure future funding to deliver improvements and encourage more people to consider cycling for local journeys, particularly commuters. Consultation and engagement will be a core focus throughout the development of the plan and the Council will continue to engage with Bikesmart participants through the dedicated App and Bikesmart delivery partners.

A new National Cycle Network route through Reading (NCN 422) is being extended. When this is complete, the launch event may offer opportunity to further promote cycling in Reading.


Resources will be shown here when available.