Traffic free route between Connah’s Quay and Flint part of Sustrans vision for National Cycle Network
The National Cycle Network is a 23-year-old this year, the 16,575 miles of cycle path which is marked by blue and red signs passes within one mile of half of the UK population.
Last year the network carried an estimated 786 million walking and cycling trips, benefitting the UK economy by nearly £90 million through reduced road congestion.
A review published on Monday by transport charity Sustrans sets out a new long-term vision for the Network which includes the rerouting of National Route 5 away from the busy A548 between Flint and Connah’s Quay.
Sustrans built the Network but owns just 500 miles of it, the rest belongs to numerous landowners, each responsible for their own stretch.
They are supported by Sustrans employees, over 3,200 volunteers, and many of the local communities the Network serves.
The review says 46% of the Network is in poor or very poor condition and just one-third of it is traffic-free.
One of the core aims of Sustrans is the Network can be used “by a sensible 12-year-old travelling alone.”
However, there are over 7,500 miles of Network that needs be addressed in order to achieve that aim.
On-road sections of the Network account for 11,302 miles (68%), ranging from very quiet rural lanes, to suburban streets, city centre thoroughfares and even busy A and B roads.
The report says “It is clear that on-road sections are performing far worse than the traffic-free sections with 62% of on-road sections classified as Very Poor – a total of 6,962 miles.”
5,273 miles (32%) of the Network is on traffic-free paths, an audit identified 16,435 barriers or obstructions on the Network including bollards, chicanes, gates, A-frames, steps and steep ramps, the equivalent to approximately three obstructions for every mile of traffic-free route.
A large number of the issues for on-road sections relate to traffic safety – these are roads where the traffic speeds and/or flows are too high to be deemed acceptable for an unaccompanied 12-year-old to cycle alone.
It is the ‘Very Poor’ on-road portion of the Network that needs the most urgent attention says Sustrans, the charity is seeking solutions that can help make it safer.
It has drawn up a number of recommendations from the review, including the delivery of over 50 so-called “activation projects” costing around £60m.
The 15 recommendations.
One project identified by Sustrans is the rerouting of National Route 5 between Flint and Connah’s Quay.
The current route sends users along a very narrow, busy and fast section of A548 beginning close to Flint railway station through Oakenholt to Connah’s Quay.
Sustrans wants to provide a completely new traffic-free route following the coastline and avoiding the A-road.
It will include a new bridge over the railway improving nonmotorised connections to the town’s River Dee foreshore.
Responding to the proposal Flintshire County Council’s Chief Officer for Streetscene and Transportation, Steve Jones, said:
“The Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 placed a duty on Local Authorities to assess existing Active Travel routes in accordance with the approved Welsh Government Toolkit.
On completion of the Audits, Local Authorities were then required to prepare an ‘Existing Route Map’ for which all qualifying active travel routes are displayed.
Flintshire County Council has recently upgraded a section of NCN5 between Rockcliffe and Croes Atti to provide a 3 metre wide off-road shared use path.
A feasibility study is currently being undertaken to investigate off-road cycle provision from Croes Atti to Flint Railway Station.”
Sustrans says it wants to complete the 50 activation projects by 2023.
Xavier Brice Chief Executive of Sustrans said:
“Our review set out to create a new long-term vision for the Network, audit its condition and define a strategy for improving it.
However, we cannot do this alone. We are the Network’s custodian, not its owner.
We want to increase all trips on the Network. Not just by the people who use it already, but by those who want to but can’t.
We want to help those who face mobility challenges or are less physically active. And we will represent all users’ interests to the many stakeholders whose paths and roads make up the Network.”
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