Politicians welcome North Wales bike route plans

New route takes cyclists off busy road, but motorists unhappy at roadwork delays

by Simon_MacMichael   January 23, 2010  

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Cyclists in North Wales are set to benefit from a new cycle path that will take them off a busy road and fills in a gap in National Cycle Network Route 5.

And while motorists have hit out at roadworks that will be necessary over the next 18 months while the project, which also includes repairs to a tunnel, is completed, politicians have welcomed the new cycle path, which runs from Conwy Morfa to Penmaenbach and takes cyclists off the busy A55, as a vital measure to help improve bike riders’ safety.

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly, which is funding the works, quoted in the Daily Post, said: “This new infrastructure will provide an essential safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists travelling around the headland and adjacent to live traffic. It will also complete the missing gap along the Sustrans Route 5 cycle network which runs along the North Wales coast, adjacent to the A55.

Conwy County Councillor Ken Stevens added: “They are putting the path on the other side of the wall on the railway embankment, so cyclists don’t have to travel on what was the pavement, which is right next to the A55. It’s a necessary evil.”

And the Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly Member Gareth Jones, who represents Aberconwy, also gave his support, saying “I’m pleased we will see major investment in safety improvements to the sub-standard parts of the existing route for cyclists because quite frankly at the moment it’s frighteningly dangerous for even the most experienced cyclists and certainly not safe for children.”

Works begin in early February and are due to last 18 months, and will be spread out to minimise disruption, although with each carriageway of the A55 being closed for up to a month at a time and temporary traffic lights, speed restrictions and conrtraflows enforced, there is bound to be some disruption.

That has angered some locals who rely on motorised transport for their livelihoods, with one, taxi and courier business owner Wil Howarth of Llanfairfechan claiming: “The last time they brought everything down like that we were getting complaints about contracts being late. Sometimes, living in Llanfairfechan is like being in a prison where we’re dependent on what they do with the A55.”

Another local businessman, Russell Godwin, managing director of Grand Prix Express, found himself in two minds about the new cycle route, however. “I’m a cyclist and the cycle path will be great,” he said, “but it will cause upheaval for businesses. It’s an invisible cost when drivers are sitting there (on the A55) doing nothing.”

Roy Spilsbury, of cyclists’ organisation CTC Cymru, welcomed the new route, commenting: “I think to bring Llanfairfechan within half an hour of Llandudno by bicycle will be a fantastic achievement, and vice versa.”

He added: “We spend too much time worrying about traffic hold ups. Traffic hold ups are endemic.”