Welsh towns and cities could be criss-crossed by a massive network of cycle and walking paths linking shopping areas, hospitals, schools and large employers, if new legislation is given the green light today.
The Welsh Assembly are set to debate the Active Travel Bill which also requires that all new roads are designed to be safer and more attractive for cyclists and walkers. But question marks have been raised over where funding to meet the requirements will come from.
The Bill has backing of Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and is expected to be passed. It is hoped the changes will make cycling and walking more attractive and subsequently combat costs associated with growing obesity levels.
If it is passed, it means Wales will have adopted a key recommendation in the Get Britain Cycling report, which demanded new infrastructure projects be planned with cyclists’ needs in mind.
Cycling charity Sustrans, who have lobbied for the bill and could play an instrumental role in helping develop new routes, labelled the legislation ‘pioneering’.
Jane Lorimer, national director of Sustrans Cymru, said: “The First Minister must be commended for personally promoting this legislation and the impact it could have for Wales.
“We hope other parts of the United Kingdom will now cast their eyes to Wales and look at what this world first Act could achieve.”
The Welsh Local Government Association, who represent the councils expected to implement legislation, said they supported the spirit of the Bill but said detail of how projects would be funded hadn’t been worked through.
Jane Lee, Policy Officer for Europe and regeneration told BikeRadar: “We’ve been very supportive of the principle of looking at different modes of transport and encouraging cycling and walking but our concern is that in the current climate of budget restriction in local government is that the funding…is properly resourced.”
The legislation would come into force in 2014.