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Bypass is first test for Active Travel Act


08 June 2018

Active travel campaigners have criticised the Welsh Government for approving a new town bypass in north Wales that, they believe, flouts the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013. 

The £135m six-mile Caernarfon and Bontnewydd bypass features little infrastructure for active travel but the Welsh Government says it complies with the Active Travel Act because it will reduce traffic on existing roads.

The Act requires the Welsh Government and local authorities to take “reasonable steps” to enhance provision for walking and cycling in road construction projects. The bypass is regarded by some as the first major road scheme developed since the Active Travel Act was passed.

There will be no walking or cycling route alongside the road and no grade-separated crossings where it cuts across existing active travel routes.

The scheme will create a new alignment for the A487 trunk road, avoiding the historic town of Caernarfon and outlying villages. Welsh transport secretary Ken Skates said the bypass would provide “great opportunities for active travel within and around Caernarfon by linking with surrounding communities”.

Sustrans Cymru said the planning inspector appeared to have largely accepted the plans presented to the public inquiry. “There has been some movement from the original position as a result of some of the representations we made, but it still falls far short of what we would have expected to see,” said Ryland Jones, Sustrans Cymru’s head of built environment. 

Sustrans and others argued at the inquiry that the proposed at-grade crossings on the new road were inadequate. In his inquiry report, planning inspector Hywel Wyn Jones said the Government had met objectors and revised its plans for the southernmost junction, moving the non-motorised users (NMUs) crossing further from the roundabout. 

At two other roundabouts, the plans make no provision for NMUs as the junctions “do not interact with any existing or proposed active travel routes”. The bypass will feature grass verges rather than paved footways.

“Taking into account the principles of the Act, the extent of provision to enhance active travel must be necessary and reasonable,” said the inspector.

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