Following public consultation, BCBC’s Cabinet is set to submit the county’s Integrated Network Map to the Welsh Government for approval (pdf).
The map was created under the Active Travel Act 2013, which is intended to boost walking and cycling both for recreation and as a routine form of transport. The maps were drafted to highlight the most efficient routes to link people to key destinations such as schools, railway stations, hospitals/clinics, employment areas and shops.
In total there were 438 responses to the consultation, a great deal of them coming from children who took part in drop-in sessions held at a number of primary and secondary schools in the county.
73% of people agreed with the draft routes on the map, but one of the more disheartening conclusions from the consultation was the very low percentage of people who cycle; although 52% of people who took part walked at least 5 days a week, only 4% cycled.
23 amendments were made to the map as a result of the public’s views. By my count 167 separate proposals have been put forward (listed here – pdf).
All of the proposals have been divided into “short-term” (completed by 2023), “medium term” (by 2028) and “long-term” (by 2033). Longer-term proposals often have issues that need to be resolved such as land ownership, environmental concerns and problems with the land itself.
The full proposals map is available for download here (pdf), but I must warn you that it’s a relatively large file at 19MB.
The only question left is where’s the money going to come from to ensure these ambitions are met? If Bridgend has 167 proposals, then across Wales you’re looking at maybe more than 3,000.
The usual way these schemes are funded is through developer contributions (Section 106 agreements).
However, not all of these routes are in areas ripe for development – for example, proposed cycling/walking routes between Bridgend and Porthcawl and Bridgend and Maesteg which pass mostly through open countryside. There’s going to have to be some serious financial commitment from the Welsh Government and councils to ensure even half of each council’s map proposals get completed, and in direct competition with road traffic for funds, “active travel” will probably lose out.