NEW CYCLE paths in the Swansea suburbs would be more successful if local councillors had been involved in their design, it has been claimed.
Liberal Democrat councillors in Sketty and neighbouring Killay said they had some safety concerns about the new shared-use paths coming to their wards, although they welcomed the investment the Labour administration had secured from the Welsh Government.
One resident, meanwhile, said she’d only heard about the forthcoming work near her house when a council leaflet dropped through her letterbox a fortnight ago.
One element of the project is a 2.5km link from Olchfa School down Olchfa Lane and into Clyne Woods. This three metre-wide route will extend south and join up with the long-established Blackpill to Gowerton cycle route, while a spur will link onto Rhyd-Y-Defaid Drive, Derwen Fawr.
Meanwhile 2km of routes will be laid down in Sketty Park, along Park Way, Sketty Park Drive, and Sketty Park Road. A shared-use path will also link New Mill Road, near Parkland Primary School, to Gabalfa Road.
Cllrs Mike Day, Cheryl Philpott, Mary Jones and Jeff Jones have offered their thoughts.
Cllr Mary Jones said: “We broadly welcome the funding to improve paths in the area but we have been concerned about how cyclists and pedestrians will be able to mix safely at the front of Olchfa school particularly at school start and finish times.”
Cllr Jeff Jones wanted to know what assessment had been done regarding the proposed routes and if the subject of lighting had been considered.
He added: “Olchfa Lane is already used by walkers, horse riders, and cyclists and to introduce a solid wide pathway would cause friction and detract from what is its current natural environmental feel.”
Cllr Philpott said she was worried about cyclists riding on footpaths outside Parkland primary and sheltered housing on Park Way.
She felt “the potential for accidents was clear”.
Cllr Day said he was concerned about what he felt was a lack of consultation.
He said: “We are united in wanting to see improvements which encourage more people to get out walking and on their bikes, which will have health and environmental benefits. But the schemes have to be workable.”
Sketty resident Jo Maloney said the bridle path in the Clyne woodland near her house was a sanctuary used by hundreds of walkers, including dog owners.
According to Dr Maloney, widening this path in such a location should come with an environmental impact assessment and a public consultation.
“My overarching issue is the way that this is being handled,” she said.
“We had a letter through the door a couple of weeks ago apologising for the inconvenience to be caused.”
Dr Maloney also felt the work was being done for “a minority group” and said a cyclist she’d spoken to was opposed to the project.
The council has secured more cycle path funding than any other Welsh authority in the last three years but has to spend that money in the financial year in which it is allocated.
Cabinet approved the latest tranche of cycle path funding at the end of July, narrowing the design to completion window to eight months.
Other cycle routes will take shape in Swansea this year, including one in Mayals which has annoyed a number of residents there.
Cllr Mark Thomas, cabinet member for environment enhancement and infrastructure management, said he felt the council had “widespread public support” for such its expanding cycle path network.
He said all the new routes had featured in map, which was completed in 2017 and subject to a 12-week consultation.
“As detailed design is being developed for each of these schemes we have listened to and reacted to local input where we have received it and in many cases we have been able to make reasonable changes to schemes,” said Cllr Thomas.
“If we are all serious about lowering our carbon emissions in the city and making our local environment a greener place for people to live and enjoy I would hope residents and councillors would be more supportive so we can encourage more people to leave their cars behind, get on a bike, and lead a healthier lifestyle.”