Posted: 19.02.21 at 15:30 by Beth Thomas
A local campaign group has sent a letter to Swansea Council saying a proposal for cycle tracks on Mayals Road is “unsafe”.
The letter, from the Safe Mayals Road campaign group, highlights 10 areas that the group perceives as dangerous, including risks to pedestrians, vehicle drivers, residents exiting from their driveways, and bus passengers, including children going to school.
It has received 144 signatures from Mayals residents.
Work has now begun on the 'active travel' scheme after Swansea Council secured Welsh Government funding, with cabinet approving these and other projects at a meeting last July.
However, some residents and councillors have said that they’d had little or no say about the project, which must be delivered this financial year.
“This came as a surprise to most local residents,” said Dareyoush Rassi, from the Safe Mayals Road Campaign.
“I live on Mayals Road and I’d heard nothing about these plans until it was approved by the council in a cabinet meeting back in July of last year.
“As soon as we heard the plans, there was a general sense of surprise and shock because the plans involved quite radical changes to this beautiful part of Swansea.”
The group has expressed concerns about the safety of a hybrid cycle lane on Mayals Road.
“Certainly, on the downhill side it becomes very much more dangerous,” said Brue Hanlin, also from the Safe Mayals Road campaign.
“The slightest obstacle in the way – some wet leaves, debris of any sort, someone stepping out onto the path without realising – the cyclist is likely to have to crash off this raised pathway into the traffic on the road.
“Anyone going down at speed is likely to be unseated straightaway and end up flat on the road, so it’s dangerous for cyclists in that respect.”
In a scrutiny meeting on 16 February, questions about the scheme were put to Cllr Mark Thomas, cabinet member for environment and infrastructure management.
William Anderson, secretary of the Blackpill, Derwen Fawr and Mayals Residents Association, said Welsh Government design guidance had been "ignored" by the authority, but Cllr Thomas said the guidance he was referring to hadn't been adopted by the council yet. Mr Anderson said it had been, in 2013.
Cllr Thomas said the authority was carrying out all requirements under the current Active Travel guidance, and that active travel schemes could not be re-routed once approved.
He said the council was always willing to listen to suggestions about how schemes could be tweaked and improved, as it had in the past.
Mr Rassi told Nub News that he believes West Cross is more in need of a cycle route due to the number of shops and schools in the area, and that it would serve as a better route to the Gower.
In Tuesday’s scrutiny meeting, Cllr Thomas said officers had considered suggestions from residents about the Mayals Road scheme following two public meetings but could not re-route it along nearby Fairwood Road.
“We believe the designs we are implementing are the best ones,” he said.
“It’s not in anybody’s interest to implement schemes that don’t work.”
During the meeting, it was said that a public consultation had taken place in 2017 when the council drew up an integrated network map.
“That consultation was to satisfy a route. They did put that out to consultation of a sort, but it was a very passive type of consultation,” Mr Hanlin told Nub News.
“There was no attempt to go out and contact people. That is what I think a consultation is – when you actively go out to engage people. There was no active engagement.
“The guidelines say that consultation should take place at all stages with all stakeholders involved.”
Mr Rassi added: “This hasn’t been looked at by enough experts. Because of the rush to get it done in time, they’re not taking into account all the other alternatives.”
During the meeting, Cllr Thomas said that the council had considered “every single proposal” put forward to the authority but had discounted those that were not “suitable or acceptable.”
He added that the council had responded to those who had put forward alternative solutions with reasons why they had not been accepted by the council.
Councils bid each year for a share of active travel funding to deliver these projects.
In a cabinet meeting last July, members were told that £1.8 million had been awarded for new shared-use paths in Mayals and Sketty.
A cabinet report outlined where these new routes would go but didn’t include maps.
Letters sent to affected ward members four weeks later confirming that the schemes would go ahead were followed up by emails from officers with more detail. Residents likely to be directly affected were notified in writing in October.
Cllr Thomas said officers had compiled a 19-page report on the back of the two meetings, and that some changes had been made to the scheme.
The Welsh Government has previously said the Mayals Road scheme meets the relevant design guidance but that it had suggested some changes.
A spokesman said the guidance “emphasised the importance of consultation throughout the development of any project and we are keen that lessons are learned from this scheme”.
“Whatever pressure we can build around the danger factors, we will try to do so in the hope of obliging the council to consider that this is not simply an engineering problem, not simply a facility for cyclists, but impacts on all road users and carries severe dangers in it,” Mr Hanlin said.
Mr Rassi added: “What we want – which I think is totally reasonable in view of a detailed list of potential flaws in the scheme the council has come up with – is to pause the project and carry out an independent review by experts who can advise on what would be an appropriate scheme for this situation.”
Swansea Council has been contacted for comment.
Click here to read the Safe Mayals Road campaign letter in full.
For more information about the Active Travel scheme click here.