SWANSEA Council will be the first authority in Wales to spend £20 per person on new cycling and walking facilities, a campaigner has claimed.
John Sayce, chairman of Swansea Bay cycle group Wheelrights, said the council deserved credit for securing two £2.75 million active travel grants from the Welsh Government this financial year – a higher allocation per head than other councils.
With some 240,000 residents, Swansea’s spend on cycle and walking facilities this year will therefore be just under £23 per person.
Mr Sayce claimed the average spend across Wales was, in contrast, just 50p per head a few years ago. He said: “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we have to say this is fantastic news.”
Council officers in Swansea, he said, clearly had viable “off the shelf” plans which helped their bids attract Welsh Government funding.
Swansea has had some good cycle paths for many years, but this provision is being expanded and connected.
The aim is to create a spider’s web-style network linking communities to one another, to large employment sites and to the city centre.
The Welsh Government has placed increasing focus on active travel through legislation and also by providing £60 million of funding for Welsh councils between 2018-19 and 2020-21.
Mr Sayce, of Sketty, said Wheelrights supported Swansea Council’s commitment to deliver cycle routes from 10 additional wards to the city centre by 2022.
An Assembly committee said in May last year that the number of people in Wales cycling and walking to work was static, despite legislation, and that fewer children were going to school on foot or by bike.
Mr Sayce said there had, according to a council officer figure, been a 45% rise in cycling in Swansea in just the last four years.
But he added: “There is more we would like to see done.”
His suggestions included a new cycle route from Cwm Level Road, past Treboeth’s Cwmgelli Cemetery, and ending at the DVLA in Clase. He was also keen to see a new route from Bishopston to the Swansea foreshore, via Clyne Common, and new links between Penllergaer and Gorseinon, and Manselton and Penlan. All of them, he said, would go past schools. Mr Sayce also said he felt a cycle path along one side of Walter Road, which takes a lot of commuter traffic in and out Swansea, was needed.
Cllr Mark Thomas, cabinet member for environment and infrastructure management, thanked officers for their active travel efforts.
He described the £5.5 million allocation this year as a “staggering amount”. He added: “We have lots more plans in the offing. I’m quite optimistic.”