A row has broken out in South Wales regarding delays on cycle routes to a bridge linking Penarth and Cardiff Bay which are likely to see its opening, planned to coincide with National Bike Week in June, put back and which may result in some of the proposed cycle paths leading to it being scrapped altogether.
Last month we reported how the four sections of the £4.5 million Pont y Werin over the River Ely in Cardiff Bay had been lifted into place by Britain’s biggest crane. The bridge is intended to form the centerpiece of a new cycle route running through the Vale of Glamorgan, but the South Wales Echo reports that the project has hit problems due to lack of funding.
That means that there is likely to be a delay in the bridges opening while key access routes for cyclists are put in place and that some cycle paths originally envisaged as part of the scheme will not now be built.
Plaid Cymru South Wales Central Welsh Assembly Member Chris Franks said that the problems demonstrated a lack of forward planning by Vale of Glamorgan Council, telling the newspaper: “Currently, the council is working on options to link Pont y Werin via Arcot Street via the Penarth Heights development to Llandough Hospital and also other schemes such as the Cardiff Road Bus Priority Scheme which will, in due course, have the potential to tie up and connect to Pont y Werin in future.
He continued: “It seems that at the time of the opening of the bridge, the routes being considered will not be completed.
“Sadly, this shows a lack of foresight on behalf of the Vale. It’s not as if they didn’t know this bridge was planned. We accept that money is tight for local authorities but I would have thought they might have got at least one route ready for the opening. So Vale residents will have to wait until they get their act together, which is typical of the way the authority operates.”
Those accusations were rejected by the council, however, with Councillor Jeff James, cabinet member for planning and transportation, saying that “the comment that the council lacks foresight is totally refuted. As I have already advised Mr Franks, the council has established a steering group consisting of various interested parties and individuals to look at options with a view to implementing the best possible routes to Pont y Werin.”
He continued: “What matters is being able to design, fund and deliver meaningful, safe and usable links through an established urban area. A significant number of options are being considered and I am hopeful that a number will be progressed. The council committed funding to the Pont y Werin scheme at the planning stage and remains fully committed to providing safe links to the bridge."
Mr James added: “If Mr Franks has any constructive ideas as to potential cycling links then I would be very pleased to hear from him.”
According to the newspaper, the council’s director of environmental and economic regeneration, Rob Quick, acknowledged in a report that there were likely to be delays with the project, saying: “As resources for the development of the route network are severely limited completion will by necessity be gradual, with design and implementation works occurring as and when resources are available.”
Grants are being sought to help fund part of the work, and Mr Quick’s report concluded: “We have been successful in securing limited funding for 2010/11 and are hopeful that similar funding can be secured for 2011/12 that will enable continued progress to be made on implementing the scheme.”
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.