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North Wales Coastal Cycle Route 5 -

Brunstrom & Dunwoody Give It The Pedal

(For a description with illustrations of 34 miles of the off-road cycleway section of NCR 5 click here)

North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom has mounted a Blog initiative to have an urgent upgrade of the coastal cycle route between Conwy and Llanfairfechan. You may see our earlier web pages here.

On the 27th November Richard recorded:-

'The second thing we did arose from my experience a couple of months ago on the north coast cycleway, which some long time readers will recall I recounted in one of my earliest Blogs. Briefly the UK is creating a national cycle network. Route 5 goes along the north Wales coast, ending at Holyhead. The network is being promoted for the UK government by the national charity Sustrans, which in Wales is also supported by the Welsh Assembly. The section between Conwy and Llanfairfechan is incomplete, because of the difficulty and expense of getting a dedicated cycle track around two headlands, Pen y Clip and Penmaenbach (the Romans didnít even attempt them, and went over the hills behind instead). These two gaps are regarded by Sustrans as the two worst locations in Wales. The current situation is extremely dangerous, and is a disaster waiting to happen.

Chief constable Richard Brunstrom

Richard Brunstrom - Championing Cycling

'To her enormous credit, the Minister (Tamsin Dunwoody, Deputy Welsh Minister for Planning, Countryside, Economic Development & Transport), accepted my challenge to cycle along this section with me to check out the situation for herself. We completed the ride in good order, aided by a stiff tailwind and glorious sun (which always shines on the righteous, as you know). It wasnít quite as terrifying as the previous occasion, because the Assembly had cunningly closed the eastbound carriageway of the A55 around Pen y Clip for repairs, so we were spared the exciting experience of sharing the live running lane with London-bound heavy goodsí vehicles, hurtling past a mere metre or so from oneís shoulder, but I think the point was made. The local senior road engineer, himself a cyclist, accompanied us for part of the trip, to his credit as well in my opinion.'

A few days later Richard reported:-

'Firstly I held a meeting to discuss the cycle track around the Pen y Clip and Penmaenbach Headlands, with representatives of the National Assembly, Conwy Council and Sustrans Cymru. Readers of my Blog from the early days will recall my concerns about the safety of cyclists on this stretch, and the later visit of the Deputy Minister Tamsin Dunwoody to see the situation for herself (on a bike, to her credit).

'We had a very useful meeting, and were able to agree to pursue a full engineering feasibility study for the route. The results of this will not be available for some months, but will enable the NAW and Conwy Council to decide how to deal with the problem - including, of course, whether the benefit justifies the cost. A tricky question. Real progress here, Iím pleased to say. Iíll keep this pot simmering in the background.'

Website Editorial comment:

We are pleased that things are moving, and value greatly the support Richard Brunstrom is giving to cycling. However we are surprised at the mention of an engineering feasibility study as if this is something new. On the contrary, CTC Cymru, Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan councils responded to detailed proposals several years ago. What has happened to those? Is this a 'feasibility study' hedge as a substitute for genuine action.

Richard also asks whether the benefits of a safe route for walking, cycling and wheelchairs between the two communities would justify the costs. We would ask what sort of society financially supports the unlimited use of the motor car for even the shortest and most trivial journeys, when in total those journeys are posing a significant threat to the survival of mankind. What price human life? Not just in general terms, but specifically for those who have genuine need to use the coastal cycle route as a part of their every day lives.

All credit to Richard and Tamsin for taking a peep at the route, but conditions can be far more intimidating than they experienced. Civil engineering road contractors have confirmed a significant and growing flow of people cycling along this route, even throughout the entire hours of darkness. And conditions can be particularly hair raising when riding into a westerly gale next to Holyhead commercial traffic moving in the opposite direction at maximum speed. It is quite possible that in such conditions even a lightweight adult could conceivably be lifted bodily: certainly a child. We trust those in positions to influence the safety of cycle travel will take note of their corporate responsibility. CTC Cymru will be watching with interest.

Tamsin Dunwoody AM cycling with large group of children

Tamsin Dunwoody AM setting a good example of government in action. (Photo Matt Price, Sustrans)

Steve Stockham, Chair CTC Cymru, writes: 

      This photograph was taken on Aug 8th 2006 at the opening of the Johnston railway station section of R4 just south of Haverfordwest. This section is an amazing piece of engineering using a cantilevered boardwalk set into the cutting of the railway line. The planning with Rail Track took about 4 years of red tape, but we now have a traffic free section of R4 that goes from Haverfordwest to Pembroke and the latest usage figures I have seen give 5-600 cycle trips a week on it during the summer. 

     The children in the photo are from Johnston CP school; the entrance to the school is straight off the cycle path just out of the picture. On the back of the cyclepath they received a Safe Routes to School grant to build a 50 berth cycle shed and buy 6 new bikes for general use of the pupils. They have since started an occasional bike train to school in the summer and have 50 pupils attending an after-school bike club every week. Just a little heart-warming example that shows that all our campaigning can have some effect. Frustratingly, changing the attitudes of some adults, who cannot grasp the importance of cycling at a formative stage of children's healthy development, is proving nigh-on impossible. 


If you want the latest news on Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom's efforts to solve the dreadful conditions for cycling between the A55 between Conwy Marina and Llanfairfechan, click his BLOG for the 27th November 2006.



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