In 2002, during the Labour-LibDem coalition, a consultation paper with the title above issued from Cardiff. So far as one can see, there has been no substantive result of this consultation. (The Assembly Government's web site is not the easiest to search, seemingly orientated to AMs and staff who know all the jargon and abbreviations, rather than to the general public; if an AM can point us to an authoritative document, I shall apologise gratefully.)
This became topical yesterday, when Lee Waters of Sustrans presented a petition, under the new procedures, calling for the Assembly Government to create and maintain a network of traffic-free routes throughout Wales. Not only would this benefit the leisure industry, giving visitors more opportunity to enjoy our beautiful country, but would also encourage Welsh citizens to get out of their cars. When obesity is highlighted as a threat to health in the United Kingdom, and affecting Wales as badly as anywhere, we need to get people to take healthy exercise, on cycle or on foot.
Lee Waters described the existing provision as "patchy". If that is so, then Neath Port Talbot is typical of Wales as a whole. There are well-constructed and well-signed cycleways which peter out. There are well-signed cycleways and footways which are in part well maintained, in part neglected and in other parts virtually impassable. There are yet others which are marked on OS maps, yet prove difficult to find on the ground.
One hopes that the Sustran petition will stimulate some long overdue action on the part of the Assembly Government. The financial outlay would be minuscule compared with the commitments to the trunk and classified road network.
- Frank Little