Wales reveals "ground-breaking" plans requiring councils to provide safe walking & cycling routes

Consultation open on White Paper launched yesterday by Welsh Transport Minister

by Simon_MacMichael   May 10, 2012  

Wales welcome sign

Sustrans has welcomed what it describes as “ground-breaking” plans by the Welsh Assembly Government to make it a legal requirement for local authorities to provide cycling and walking routes, with the proposals, contained in the Active Travel (Wales) Bill announced in a White Paper yesterday, described as the first of their kind in the world.

The bill will require local authorities in the principality to devise and deliver safe, traffic-free routes, including cycle paths, that link schools, hospitals and shopping areas, and comes after a five-year campaign from Sustrans Cymru.

The proposals have cross-party support and are also backed by organisations such as the British Medical Association, Royal Mail and BT, as well as the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.

Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of the sustainable transport charity, said: "This is a ground-breaking move by the Welsh government that will help people get around more safely, cheaply and healthily.

"People all over the UK want to cycle and walk more for every day journeys but are held back by safety concerns.

"Walking and cycling are the answers to the UK's rocketing fuel bill and expanding waistline but getting around actively must be made safer and easier across the country."

Responses are invited to the issues addressed in the White Paper, a copy of which can be downloaded at the end of this article, with the Welsh Government canvassing views on whether local authorities should be required to:

  • identify and map the network of routes within their areas that are safe and appropriate for walking and cycling
  • identify and map the enhancements that would be required to create a fully integrated network for walking and cycling and develop a prioritised list of schemes to deliver the network
  • deliver an enhanced network subject to budget availability and following due process
  • consider the potential for enhancing walking and cycling provision in the development of new road schemes.

The proposals were formally launched yesterday at the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay by Welsh Transport Minister Carl Sargeant, who said:  “The White Paper for the Active Travel Bill sets out an ambitious and radical plan to dramatically increase the numbers of people walking and cycling in Wales.

“I see this Bill as a landmark step in further developing a truly sustainable transport network in Wales and reflects the Welsh Government’s commitment to green transport,” he continued.

“In addition to the obvious health benefits of walking and cycling this Bill will have a positive impact on improving safety for both cyclists and pedestrians, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and reduce congestion within our towns and cities.

“We want to make walking and cycling the most natural and normal way of making short everyday journeys. I would urge people to have their say and get involved in this consultation,” Mr Sargeant added.

AttachmentSize
The Active Travel Bill White Paper - English language - pdf version.pdf655.41 KB

16 user comments

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Interesting!

I still want to be able to do +20mph on the road though, without being held up by a cycle lane.

LEGS OF PAIN.CC

The Chaplin's picture

posted by The Chaplin [34 posts]
10th May 2012 - 10:03

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I know what you mean - it's great to see stuff like this gaining some traction, but you can envisage the government expecting no-one to ride at more than 12-15mph, and 'lycra-clad warriors' will be the evil bunch...!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3471 posts]
10th May 2012 - 10:49

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both previous comments true - but I don't believe that anything in the article suggests there will be pressure to force cyclists off the road (except in the minds of Daily Fail readers and Clarkson's Petrol-heads)

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [566 posts]
10th May 2012 - 11:11

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Lets just hope they adopt the Dutch model. There'll no problems for the fast guys then.

http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2008/09/speed.html

posted by nigel_s [30 posts]
10th May 2012 - 12:20

0 Likes

The fact that this is seen as "groundbreaking" and "a landmark step" only serves to highlight how far behind most of Europe we are! Decades!

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [229 posts]
10th May 2012 - 12:20

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I have my doubts, partly because of the Sustrans involvement.
It isn't unknown for them to push exceptionally hard for something that looks good on paer and to their corperate way of thinking but is opposed by local residents.

posted by mattsccm [280 posts]
10th May 2012 - 12:56

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  • deliver an enhanced network subject to budget availability and following due process
  • This is where I see the big stumbling block - budget and planning.

    Urban routes will go 'all round the houses' to avoid grabbing arterial road space because cars, lorries etc are still by far the majority of traffic on most routes. The amount of cash and area allocated to dedicated cycle paths will be cut because it is less important to councillors and planners than things like "enabling mobility", "traffic smoothing", "promoting business" etc (these and many other phrases are used to justify prioritising car traffic and leaving everyone else to breathe the fumes).

    Meanwhile in rural areas the cost per user will be prohibitive. Much of Wales is rural (and I'm not talking Surrey kind of rural!). In many areas it is too hilly for most people to even consider riding any distance, even if they had a beautifully surfaced, direct, cycle route from A to B.

    I'm not saying this isn't a bold step but I'm certainly not holding my breath. I don't see anything about improving driver behaviour, thereby enabling more peaceful co-existence for those of us who want to use the road, while we wait for these wonderful facilities to be built. Sorry to be so negative but I think it's just a pipe dream and the only people who will win are the consultants.

    Simon E's picture

    posted by Simon E [2057 posts]
    10th May 2012 - 14:09

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    I live in Prestatyn (Wales), which is well provided for in walking and off road cycle routes. The problem here is not the provision of the routes but the policing of them. To give you an example around the corner from my house the council made a pavement dual use (cyclists and pedestrians) to provide access from a local primary and secondary school to a local cycle network. So what happens around the start of school time? The pavement is blocked by the cars of parents who drive their children to school. They park half way on the road and the pavement. The kids that ride to school being forced to ride on the road. Not a traffic warden in sight. I'm sure like everybody who cycles readers will also have suffered fron loose dogs on cycle/walking paths. In general I think most North East Wales councils will have no problem satifying the new requirements but unless proper measures are in place to police car and dog use (abuse) of the new facilities it will be a waste of time and money building them.

    PS in reply to Simon we've probably already got more off road cycle routes in parts of Wales than Surrey. Have a look at the Sustrans map a lot of the rural ones use old railway lines

    Paul W

    posted by PaulVWatts [111 posts]
    10th May 2012 - 15:48

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    The fact that Sustrans exists at all probably says it all. A civilised nation with a proper 21st century transport stategy should have no need for such an organisation.

    posted by nigel_s [30 posts]
    10th May 2012 - 16:12

    0 Likes

    Simon E wrote: "Meanwhile in rural areas the cost per user will be prohibitive."

    No doubt exactly the same can be said of most rural roads.

    posted by nigel_s [30 posts]
    10th May 2012 - 16:14

    0 Likes

    nigel_s wrote:
    The fact that Sustrans exists at all probably says it all. A civilised nation with a proper 21st century transport stategy should have no need for such an organisation.

    +1

    onward ever onward

    bikecellar's picture

    posted by bikecellar [229 posts]
    11th May 2012 - 9:32

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    nigel_s wrote:
    Simon E wrote: "Meanwhile in rural areas the cost per user will be prohibitive."

    No doubt exactly the same can be said of most rural roads.


    +1

    onward ever onward

    bikecellar's picture

    posted by bikecellar [229 posts]
    11th May 2012 - 9:33

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    PaulVWatts wrote:
    we've probably already got more off road cycle routes in parts of Wales than Surrey. Have a look at the Sustrans map a lot of the rural ones use old railway lines

    But where do those routes actually go? Sustrans routes can be great but too often they are not practical for a large precentage of normal, everyday journeys.

    I used to live in mid-Wales and to get anywhere that doesn't require climbing repeated 1-in-7 grade hills you have to take the main roads. Towns like Aberystwyth and Dolgellau are hemmed in by hills, you start climbing whichever way you go (not counting the beautiful Mawddach estuary trail).

    The old railway line through Llanidloes is now a bypass. Newtown's roads are chock-full. There are very few opportunities for building decent segregated facilities for people wanting to commute into or through the town.

    Is Prestatyn really a cycling Utopia? Other coastal towns like Caernarfon have seen increased facilities in recent years but a comprehensive traffic-free network is a very distant hope.
    People travelling from Anglesey to work in Bangor will not enjoy crossing either of the two busy bridges over the menai straits or the roads into the city. I can't imagine many hospital staff wanting to ride up the hill to Ysbyty Gwynedd before their shift or take the shopping home from Tesco up to Llanberis or wherever.

    Across the border, Shrewsbury has had the benefit of Lottery money and was designated a 'cycling town'. Has this worked? While cycling rates have improved, very little has changed overall. The Connect2 project plans were watered down and the town still has the same traffic-heavy bottlenecks in the same places.

    The gains would be best if improvements were concentrated in areas of high population density and employment, schools etc to get the most benefit (and provide a strong argument for the investment).

    Simon E's picture

    posted by Simon E [2057 posts]
    11th May 2012 - 15:30

    0 Likes

    The proposal is already weak, even before it becomes a Bill that eventually becomes legislation.

    It may delight people who like maps, and those who want bikes (and horses!) to be allowed on footpaths.

    posted by snibgo [5 posts]
    11th May 2012 - 19:34

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    Out of all the parents at my school there are three of us cycling the school run. There must be more than three of us working from home and the local railway station just two blocks from the school has a bike lockup and ample bike racks for those that commute. Total bikes parked each morning? 8 or less.

    It's not just the price of petrol, fear of traffic and bad weather. I think it's just the malaise of 2 generations who see cycling as a poor alternative to driving in comfort and warmth. Changing this idle mindset is goingto be the tough.

    Silly me. You're probably right....

    MercuryOne's picture

    posted by MercuryOne [1093 posts]
    11th May 2012 - 22:55

    1 Like

    All successful cycling nations have lobby groups that protect the interest of cyclists and deliver cycling services - the Fietserbond in the Netherlands, for example:

    http://www.fietsersbond.nl/english-info

    They never become superfluous because there'll always be conflicting views on how resources are allocated.

    posted by fluffy_mike [84 posts]
    11th May 2012 - 23:18

    1 Like