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Mixed reaction to plans for new city cycle route

06 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Sketty Road, Swansea, as it is now. Photo Swansea Council

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

Plans to make cycling and walking safer along an arterial route while narrowing the carriageway for cars are generating a mixed response.

Swansea Council has consulted on draft proposals for a segregated two-way cycle path from Sketty, through Uplands, and then down Walter Road towards the city centre. It would be on the south side of the route and cyclists could then switch across to The Kingsway and continue into the city centre.

Thousands of people live close to this 2.5km stretch of road and scores of businesses, particularly in Uplands, are located along it. Many residents have had their say at two consultation events and at a meeting organised by Swansea West MP Geraint Davies.

Mr Davies, along with councillors representing the Uplands ward, said a majority of people opposed the plan. Swansea Bay cycle campaign group Wheelrights has backed it, subject to some alterations being made, arguing that pedestrians and motorists would benefit as well as cyclists.

The scheme would result in narrowed carriageways, restrictions on some right filter lanes, the introduction of some one-way side roads, some pavement widening of pedestrian crossing upgrades, and new landscaped spaces all the way up to the junction of Gower Road and De La Beche, Sketty.

Mr Davies said 83% of those who attended the meeting he held were against the scheme with 13% in support and 4% having mixed feelings.

Key concerns

In a letter to the council Mr Davies said the key concerns were the narrowing of the carriageway and the right turn restrictions and fears over loss of parking. There was a sense, he said, that the 20mph limit on the route was already creating a safer cycling environment and that money was better spent repairing potholes, improving pavements, and on more buses.

The Independent MP said he supported good active travel schemes in principle and that they needed to carry the support of residents.

He said: “Overall my conclusion from listening to residents and evaluating the proposals is that this scheme does not represent good value for money for the taxpayer, will not bring significant benefits to cyclists, and could cause significant inconvenience to residents whilst being detrimental to the local economy and environment.”

Feedback Mr Davies has received included one person claiming the plans looked “the biggest waste of money ever”, adding: “Are Deliveroo paying for this?”

Another person said: “Not everyone can cycle and large shopping usually needs car travel. Will this not just make more people shop out of town making the city centre even more unattractive as a place to shop?”

Others suggested upgrading the shared-use path through Singleton Park, Sketty, and directing cyclists along that towards the seafront but the whole point of the council’s scheme is a direct route from the suburbs into the city centre.

Tweaks

Another resident who said they regularly cycled, walked, ran and drove along the route said he strongly supported the proposal, subject to some tweaks, and that the impact on drivers would be “negligible”. They added: “I do think there are a few considerations about specific aspects of the proposal that could be improved to ensure that traffic flow is not adversely affected.”

There were also views on the council’s consultation document, with one person saying they felt it glossed over the scheme’s potential negative impacts. “People need to have clear evidence for both sides – including the detailed traffic analysis – before they can agree or disagree with the proposals,” they said.

Walter Road, Swansea, with a two-way cycle path on the left, as has been proposed. Photo by Swansea Council

The Uplands Party carried out a survey in 2021 about the idea of a cycle lane from Sketty Road and Walter Road and just over 60% of those who responded were in favour. Cllr Peter May, the party’s leader, said the sentiment had turned. People, he said, were worried about disruption and the cycle lane’s potential impact on deliveries to businesses.

“Our position is a firm ‘no’ to it,” said Cllr May. “I think Swansea Council should focus more on walking, which is active travel too, and maintaining the pavements.”

Recommendations

Campaign group Wheelrights has sent a detailed response backing the proposal along with a number of recommendations.

“These segregated lanes will encourage many more adults and youngsters to feel safer whilst they cycle here,” it said. “We hope that some of these new cyclists will be motorists who currently use the road. Additionally we predict that cyclists who use the pavements illegally will now transfer to these lanes leaving more room for pedestrians and those with mobility issues.”

The council said it didn’t wish to respond to contributions from politicians and other groups at present and that the draft proposals could change ahead of an expected bid for Welsh Government funding for the project.

Speaking before the consultation ended Cllr Andrew Stevens, cabinet member for environment and infrastructure, said: “Sketty Road and Walter Road is a key route into and out of the city centre and provides links to a number of communities including Uplands and Sketty.

“These communities, along with the city centre, offer a wide range of facilities and it’s vital we do what we can to ensure residents can access them by which ever mode of transport they choose – whether that’s by car, walking, cycling, or using public transport.”


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Paul ap Gareth
Paul ap Gareth
25 days ago

The plans look awesome, the lanes are currently exceptionally wide. I hope this happens.

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