The Welsh Assembly Government has stipulated that local authorities across the principality must use 5% of their Road Maintenance Grant to maintain on-road cycle routes in an initiative that has been welcomed by sustainable transport charity, Sustrans.
The decision, which equates to about £10,000 per local authority, follows two years of lobbying by Sustrans for highway authorities in Wales to consider cyclists and pedestrians with the same weight they attach when planning for motorists’ needs, and that campaigning appears to have prompted the Welsh Assembly to act.
Lee Waters, Sustrans Cymru Director, said: “It is a modest start but sets an important precedent. As a direct result of Sustrans' work over the last two years, supported by other organisations in Wales, local authorities now have a financial incentive to maintain cycle paths in the same way, if not on the same scale, as they do for roads.”
However, Waters believes the battle is only half won, saying: “Currently the commitment only extends to on-road cycle routes, now we need to see the same apply to creating and maintaining traffic-free routes.'
Last month, the Welsh Assembly Government launched a new strategy, called ‘Creating an Active Wales,' which provides targets to increase levels of physical exercise, including cycling, over the next decade.
Many people in the principality would prefer to undertake exercise that can easily be included within their daily routine, rather than attending fitness classes, for example, making cycling and walking obvious choices, and Waters believes that the government’s commitment to putting funds aside for maintaining cycling infrastructure will help.
“If we want to encourage people to lead more active lives then we need to make walking and cycling more attractive alternatives to the car for short journeys. This is an important small step in that direction,” he claimed.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.