Leanne Wood has welcomed news that a cycling route for the Rhondda Fawr is being explored.
The possibility of the Fawr finally getting a designated cycle route was mentioned in correspondence between the AM for the Rhondda and RCT Council. Ms Wood had sent a letter to the local authority as part of its consultation on new cycle and walking routes in the county borough.
In the letter, she wrote: ‘While it is good to see that there is some provision for cyclists from Porth all the way up to Maerdy at the top of the Fach, there is no such route in the Fawr. This is deeply disappointing, not to mention hazardous for cyclists in this part of the Rhondda.
‘Living in Penygraig, I know only too well the hazards of being a cyclist in this part of the Rhondda. Attempting to cycle north or south in the valley is fraught with difficulties and dangers. This activity is made worse by the narrow roads. It's not safe, especially for children.
‘The lack of a safe cycle route is having a negative impact on the promotion of cycling in the Rhondda when we have more Welsh cyclist role models than ever before.
'Despite the challenge of limited routes, great efforts being undertaken to encourage cycling in the Rhondda – as typified by the work of the Bike Doctor shop in Porth.
'As well as organising regular road and mountain bike rides through their thriving club, they are holding lessons in the Barry Sidings facility they have just taken on. Work like this can only be applauded. The positive health benefits are undisputed.
‘I urge you now to ensure that keen cyclists are given the opportunities to get out and about on their bikes by providing safe routes. This is key in light of the plans to open up the Rhondda Tunnel.
'This underground link between the Rhondda and Afan valleys has the potential to become a major tourist draw as it would be the second longest cycle tunnel in the world. It is essential that the cycle network is in place to support this attraction ready for when it opens.’
In reply to her letter, Nigel Wheeler, Director for Highways and Streetcare Services at RCT Council, said: “I note your comments and can advise that the draft Integrated Network Map is putting forward a potential active travel route along the Rhondda Fawr to the mouth of the disused Rhondda Tunnel for consideration.
'At this very early stage of possible development, the precise alignment has not been determined and future construction will be dependent upon the availability of resources, as well as the outcome of detailed design and survey work.
'Notwithstanding this, active travel journeys are very local in nature and the council has already commenced work in the Rhondda Fawr, using Safe Routes in the Communities funding to create a good quality walking and cycle route in the Ystrad area.
'In addition, options are being considered for the eventual replacement of the footbridge over the railway and river at Ystrad Rhondda station.
'As such, it is envisaged that the bridge and its approaches, which provide access to the railway station, local leisure centre and schools and the Gelli Industrial Estate, will form part of a longer distance active travel route along the Rhondda Fawr.”
After receiving the letter, Ms Wood said she was pleased that the Rhondda Fawr is finally being considered for a new cycle route.
“Provision in the Rhondda Fawr is poor for cyclists and I would like to see that changed,” she said.
“With their consultation, the council has an opportunity to rectify this issue and provide a safe cycling route through the Rhondda Fawr. Many valleys in south Wales enjoy good cycle routes – it is high time that the people of the Rhondda Fawr were provided for.
“I welcome the council’s willingness to seek a route and I hope that they work flat out towards bringing this to fruition.”
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