Community leaders have given their backing to ‘exciting’ new plans aimed at encouraging commuters to ditch their cars in favour of bikes.
Last week, Flintshire Council outlined ambitious proposals for a cycle way running between Mold and Broughton, connecting with major employment sites along the way.
It would also link up other towns and villages, including Buckley, Penyffordd, Saltney and Sandycroft, as well as railway stations.
Speaking at a meeting of backbench councillors, one of the authority’s leading officers said the scheme would go beyond installing cycle lanes at the side of the road, and result in new traffic signals being introduced to give preference to cyclists.
Steve Jones, chief officer for Streetscene and transportation, also said it could become a flagship initiative for the whole of Wales if funding is received from the Welsh Government to move it forward.
He said: “What they (Welsh Government) said to us was they were fed up of schemes where they start nowhere and end nowhere.
“They’re looking for high profile schemes which link major communities.
“We’ve got some exciting ideas and, in some areas, basically what we’re doing is stopping roads off to allow bikes onto it and moving cars onto the main routes.
“I want to get to a position where when you get to 17 you don’t need to buy a car because the infrastructure is there to cycle to work or to the shops.
“The outline plan is to put lights there so that cyclists can go through and motorists have to stop at the signals to allow the cyclists through.”
One cycle path on Deeside Industrial Park is already said to be attracting more than 11,000 cyclists during peak months, members of the council’s environment scrutiny committee were told today.
The latest scheme forms part of the Welsh Government’s Active Travel Plan, which is aimed at increasing the number of people who walk and cycle.
The authority has already received money from Cardiff to draw up an outline of the proposed route, which includes a revamped bridge over the A55 that may be lit up to highlight its existence.
Officials have voiced hopes that the initiative will be more successful than a previous study aimed at linking the same areas carried out in 2007, which was hampered by land ownership issues.
However, some representatives have raised concerns about the safety of cyclists on one part of the planned route on the B5129 through Sandycroft.
Cllr Bob Connah (Ind, Mancot) said: “That road is not very wide and there’s two ditches either side, one of which is more like a mini river.
“My concern would be that stretch between the Bridge Inn and the roundabout by the factory.
“I drive that road on a daily basis and I would have real concerns about trying to incorporate something there.”
Officers said they would be looking to create an off road cycle way on the route to avoid conflict with the ditches.
Councillors voted to support the proposals at the end of the debate and the authority will now submit the scheme to the Welsh Government to bid for funding for the next financial year.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).