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Politics Swansea West Wales

Concerns raised over lack of maintenance funding for cycle paths in Swansea

COUNCILS regularly ask the Welsh Government for funding to maintain the country’s growing network of cycle routes, Swansea councillors were told.

Local authorities bid every year for a share of Welsh Government money to build new Active Travel routes for cyclists and pedestrians and improve existing ones. Swansea Council secured £23.7 million from 2018-19 to 2022-23, second only to Cardiff, but it appears to be a different picture for maintenance.

Speaking at a scrutiny committee meeting, Cllr Chris Holley said new routes were all well and good but that they only looked attractive for a certain length of time. “Have we got any funding for maintenance?” he said.

Council officers Jack Palmer and Chloe Lewis said this was raised with the Welsh Government every year, and that the message coming back from officials was that Active Travel routes should be treated as part of the highway network. The committee was told that Swansea had £24,000 for Active Travel maintenance – a sum Cllr Holley said wouldn’t go far. “To be safe, they need to be maintained,” he said.

Swansea has nearly 90 miles of shared-use paths with more on their way, such as one which will link Bishopston, Gower, to Mayals Road, Mayals. The Mayals Road scheme resulted in the narrowing of the carriageway and was unpopular with many residents.

The committee was told that 23 counting devices monitor the use of Active Travel routes. These are supplemented by manual surveys, such as one on Mayals Road at 10 different times which found that three times as many cyclists used the dedicated path than the road itself.

Cllr Wendy Fitzgerald said Active Travel routes impacted on residents’ lives when they cut across their driveways, incorporated road space previously used for parking, and involved a narrowing the road.

She claimed lorries were mounting a new shared-use path on Gorseinon Road, Penllergaer, due to the narrower carriageway, and that a cyclist had gone over the bonnet of a car last week despite using the shared-use path at the time.

“The fear is that we are going to have a more serious accident at some point,” she said.

Officers said carriageway-narrowing was done according to regulations and that sufficient space was left for all vehicles. The aim of separate shared-use paths, they said, was to make cycling feel safer.

Cllr Matthew Jones said he didn’t understand the negativity towards Active Travel routes, and that Swansea Council’s efforts on this topic were “outstanding”.