IT’S A move that even Dick Dastardly would approve of: pigeons have been stopped from doing their business on pedestrians using a Newtown bridge.
Earlier this year, Network Rail spent three months refurbishing the historic railway bridge on the A4 London Road. It is the boundary between Reading and Wokingham and the works caused delays for motorists using the main route in and out of the town centre.
It is also a busy route for pedestrians and cyclists heading to Earley, Thames Valley Park or nearby schools.
For years, those on foot have had to tread gingerly as they go underneath the bridge, as pigeons would roost in the bridge’s steelworks and there was no one, such as Dick Dastardly in the classic cartoon, aiming to stop the pigeon.
This meant pigeon droppings would fall from a great height, bringing not a stroke of luck, but an almighty mess.
Park ward Green party councillor Rob White was one of those affected, and said it was something that Newtown residents had raised frequently with him, calling for action on the feathered friends – be it nab them, jab them, tab them or grab them. They didn’t mind as long as they stopped that pigeon now.
He didn’t, however, call on Mutley to gain a medal, or hope that Clunk invented a thingamabob to save the day. And nor did he expect a Zilly from Wokingham Borough Council to sneak up and catch them.
Instead, he got in touch with Network Rail when they carried out the work and they were happy to take affirmative action, by installing anti-pigeon netting and cleaning the pavements.
The footpath is now clear of pigeon droppings, meaning pedestrians don’t have to walk in guana or worry about having to clean themselves up after an accident from above.
While rare, it is possible to contract pigeon-related diseases from their droppings. Ornithosis, Listeria, E-coli and other pathogens can be found in their mess.
However, the netting doesn’t go all the way across, so drivers may be affected by the occasional bit of business from the pigeons who are now resting in the beams over the road.
Cllr White, who is also the leader of the opposition on Reading Borough Council, said: “We have been raising pigeons roosting under the London Road rail bridge and crapping on the pavement for some time.
“It was a resident who first raised this with me.
“Wokingham would clear up the mess but not very frequently.
“We raised it with Network Rail numerous times but didn’t get a final answer on what they were going to do.
“However I was delighted to see that as part of the recent works to paint the bridge they installed anti-pigeon netting over the pavement. I went and had a look and this seems to have done the trick as the pavement was looking much better.”
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We take our impact on the environment and our local communities seriously.
“We regularly inspect the condition of our infrastructure including deterrent measures such as the pigeon netting underneath London Road bridge and we’re pleased to have made a difference to pedestrian safety with this small change.”