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Riders put together for brand spanking new highway design with progressive painted piece of tarmac

  • A forward-thinking council that is installing colourful new road markings has created a practice panel of tarmac to allow horses to become used to the designs in advance.

    Wokingham Borough Council is planning an “innovative overhaul” of the California Crossroads at Finchampstead, which includes multi-coloured leaf designs on the tarmac near two mini roundabouts, aimed at making them more attractive and encouraging drivers to slow down. There will also be white leaves painted on new crossings, “so the area feels less centred around vehicles”, a council spokesman said.

    “The crossing is also used by horse riders to travel between local bridleways and, when consulted, many said they would like a chance to get used to the new leaf designs in advance,” he added.

    “The council recognised that this was important as horses can get nervous around unfamiliar surfaces, so it worked with its highways consultant WSP and the nearby Wheatlands Farm livery yard to lay a panel of surfacing marked with the leaf designs.

    “This allows riders to carry out as much off-road training as they need before they encounter the real thing.

    “The council has previously extended the California Way, one of its generally traffic-free ‘greenways’, linking key destinations in the borough, to offer riders an alternative to crossing at California Crossroads.”

    Cllr Paul Fishwick, the council’s executive member for active travel, transport and highways, said the council wants to make its roads “safer and more friendly for all forms of alternative travel”.

    “While walking and cycling might spring first to many people’s minds, horse riding is another popular option – especially in the rural areas that make up much of our green and beautiful borough,” he said.

    “We take residents’ feedback very seriously, so we were delighted to work with the local riding community to find a way of making the upcoming crossing improvements more accessible to them. This will ensure they can safely enjoy the same benefits as other people who are crossing on foot, wheelchair, bicycle, push scooter and other types of active transport.

    “I’m glad to hear the panel has proven popular, which should give riders plenty of time to prepare.”

    The work is due to start next year.

    Nicola Greenwood, who runs Wheatlands Farm and is also the British Horse Society access and bridleways officer for the area, added: “The trial panel is proving invaluable to local horse riders, allowing them to introduce their horses to the colourful design in a safe, controlled environment.

    “It allows riders to take as much time as they need for their horses to become confident with the design and we’re very grateful to the council and WSP for their help in providing this training aid.”

    There is no charge to use the panel but bookings must be made in advance so each rider has enough time. Anyone who is interested should email

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