Welsh minister behind Active Travel Act says routes need to be joined up

Culture and sports minister John Griffiths says existing routes put riders back in position of danger when they end

by Simon_MacMichael   January 2, 2014  

Pont-y-Werin bridge Cardiff (photo: J Bewley/Sustrans)

The Welsh Government minister who helped the country’s ground-breaking Active Travel Act become law last year says that local councils need to ensure that safe routes for cyclists are joined up to one another, rather than leaving riders in positions of danger when they end.

Culture and sports minister John Griffiths was speaking to Wales Online as he accompanied its Senedd reporter Graham Henry and Sustrans Cymru director Jane Lorimer on a bike ride around Cardiff.

“I think that Cardiff and Welsh local authorities have done a lot in terms of provision for cyclists, and it’s much better than it was years ago,” said Mr Griffiths. “Many more people cycle. There’s a lot to be positive about.”

But the man who steered through the Active Travel Bill, which places an obligation on local authorities in Wales to develop and maintain an integrated network of walking and cycling routes, said that currently many cycle paths end at a “pinch point” that puts riders back among road traffic at hazardous locations.

“Yes, it does need to be joined up better,” he acknowledged. “That’s one of the key points of our Active Travel Act, the mapping of existing routes and the mapping of the new routes will be very much about joining up and dealing with these issues such as road safety, and crossings and pinch points. Where it’s far too hazardous.”

Asked about November’s spate of cycling fatalities in London – six riders were killed in the space of a fortnight, all of them in collisions with large vehicles such as lorries and buses – he said: “I think it is a very particular situation in London because of the sheer volume of motorists and cyclists in a very congested area, but there are safety issues for cyclists all over the world, that obviously includes Wales.

“So safety will be at the very heart of what we do around the Active Travel Act.”

The trio rode onto the Taff Trail, where Sustrans has introduced a code of coduct for users after a series of incidents involving fast-moving cyclists and pedestrians, including dog walkers.

Sustrans has called on the Welsh Government to increase funding for cycling form the current £3 a head to £10 a head, and Ms Lorimer pointed out that the latest Welsh budget did not set aside money specifically for cycling.

But Mr Griffiths said that money was available, and that councils should not point to cuts in their budgets as a way of avoiding their responsibilities under the Active Travel Act.

“There is ring-fenced funding within the transport budget,” he maintained.

“It will be to help get the infrastructure we need to get in place. To work with the local authorities. For example, when new road schemes are taken forward, there will be a requirement to make sure cycling provision is considered as part of them.

“When you look at the whole package and the sort of spend that is taking place at the moment, I think assessed by Sustrans at over £3 per head of population in Wales in terms of cycling. There is considerable investment.

“I would agree we need to increase it. I think we need to work towards the increase over a period of time,” he added.

The Active Travel Act places a number of duties on various bodies, including:

• A duty to promote active travel and to report annually on the activity undertaken
• A requirement on local authorities to report on their progress on the network, level of usage and associated costs
• A requirement on Welsh Ministers to report annually on levels of active travel
• A requirement on highways authorities to take into account the needs of walkers and cyclists when carrying out certain key functions under various highways acts, such as road works.

4 user comments

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The point about cycle routes needing to be joined up is so blinking obvious, it's amazing it has to be said…but it does have to be said.

Local authorities often have no idea about cycling or building cycle routes, which is why they build awful cycle routes, or ones which just stop at the most hazardous point. Probably they like to be able to say 'we've built x miles of cycle paths over 5 years,' without anyone asking whether they're any good.

It's time to demand a massive improvement, a revolution.

posted by HarrogateSpa [81 posts]
3rd January 2014 - 8:04

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I'll 2nd that. Cardiff council has published a Proposed extension from North Cardiff to Taff Trail, likely hood of left hooks, road narrowings that are wide enough to permit un-safe overtaking and cycle lanes painted adjacent to "give way lines" ( when passing junctions - most un-safe place to be : 70% of accidents happen at junctions). They are responding to Active Travel bill by producing unsafe infrastructure- very unhelpful.

Poorly designed infrastructure is placing novice cyclists, who lack bikeabilty training and confidence, in danger, if they cycle in the cycle lane at all stages of their journey.

Off-road or barrier segregated cycle lanes ( not shared footpaths) and cycle training, coupled with rigorous enforcement through police presence and a CPS and legal system with a "backbone" will help to get more people feeling safe when cycling.

The public highway should be just that: a place for all responsible members of the public to get from A to B without fear of intimidation, impatient thugs and dangerous behaviour, regardless of the mode of chosen.

for me - The ride is about adventure, camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment that comes after a long day in the saddle.

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posted by Mountain-Nic [119 posts]
3rd January 2014 - 10:16

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Quote:
The trio rode onto the Taff Trail, where Sustrans has introduced a code of coduct for users after a series of incidents involving fast-moving cyclists and pedestrians, including dog walkers.

Is it me or is this a cop out from Sustrans, and indicative of the level of thought exhibited by far to many.

How many car drivers bother with the highway code? and much of that has legal foundation. If you want safe paths you need to create them, not bits of paper and ask nicely.

If you want commuter routes you have to accept commuters will use the routes in a certain way, if you want leisure routes then they will be used in a different way. If you want to create urban "parks" and have dogs, pedestrians and leisure and commuting cyclists in the same space, well you are creating a mess!

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posted by mrmo [1032 posts]
3rd January 2014 - 11:23

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HarrogateSpa wrote:
The point about cycle routes needing to be joined up is so blinking obvious, it's amazing it has to be said…but it does have to be said.

Local authorities often have no idea about cycling or building cycle routes, which is why they build awful cycle routes, or ones which just stop at the most hazardous point. Probably they like to be able to say 'we've built x miles of cycle paths over 5 years,' without anyone asking whether they're any good.

It's time to demand a massive improvement, a revolution.

My LA have approx £2 per person to spend on cycling across 1000 sq miles, Approx the same amount as it costs to remodel one A road roundabout. With that level of funding you are only ever going to get shared use paths and paint on the road which stops when it gets too hard/too expensive.

posted by tarquin_foxglove [79 posts]
3rd January 2014 - 11:50

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