The AM for the Rhondda has hosted a meeting aimed at improving access for people making car-free journeys.
More than 40 people attended the Cardiff Arms Hotel in Treorci for the meeting. Cyclists, ramblers, runners and horse riders were represented at the gathering which featured speeches from Leanne Wood AM, Tony Moon of the Rhondda Tunnel Society and Matthew Gilbert who is Active Travel Lead for Transport for Wales.
Leanne began by speaking of the lack of cycling provision that exists in the Rhondda compared with other countries and even other parts of Wales. She said bidding for improved infrastructure from central pots of money was made difficult due to the lack of active travel routes in the council’s infrastructure plans.
Mr Moon gave a brief history of the Rhondda Tunnel Society over the last few years and outlined the frustrating position they find themselves in now, trying to persuade the Welsh Government and Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council to take ownership of the structure from Highways England.
Mr Gilbert spoke of the money that is being allocated under the new rail franchise to improve station facilities such as bike storage. He also spoke of the challenges in creating new cycle paths alongside the rail corridor due to the need to ensure five metres of clearance between cycle paths and electrified line being installed for the Metro.
All attendees were given a copy of Leanne’s new policy paper, which was written in collaboration with Sustrans, and explores ways in which safer cycling and walking can be introduced in the Rhondda. People were also invited to fill in a questionnaire about their active travel priorities.
Afterward the meeting Leanne said: “I was encouraged by the turnout and the strength of feeling at the meeting. There was a lot of passion and energy from people that feel that we are not making the most of what the Rhondda has to offer whether you’re a cyclist, walker, runner or horse rider.
“People want to get out more and ditch the car but there was a universal feeling among everyone that it is not as safe as it could or should be. The job of our Government and local council should be to make activity of this nature easier.”
Leanne added: “If we can draw up some common goals that bring us together, I am hopeful that we can craft a successful campaign that will put pressure on RCT Council, the Welsh Government and any other body charged with encouraging car-free journeys to do something really positive.
“Our campaign is open to anyone to join us and bring about real and lasting change for the Rhondda. Please keep an eye on my Leanne Rhondda Facebook page for further developments.”
If you want to support Leanne and Plaid Cymru, please click this link to get involved.