Increasing access on local community routes for all residents
The Council’s important work to make local routes and paths more accessible has been praised by Sustrans – which has shared the story of a resident who is now benefitting from the removal of access barriers near her home.
Recently, focus has been placed on assessing local paths and routes at several locations across Rhondda Cynon Taf, to see how removing barriers could increase access to Active Travel for all members of the community – for example, people with disabilities or those pushing a children’s double buggy.
Barriers have historically been placed on specific local paths to solve the problem of illegal off-road motorcyclists, larger vehicles illegally gaining access and anti-social behaviour. However, in consultation with Local Elected Members and targeted assessment based on several factors, access barriers have recently been removed at several locations across the County Borough. This has been funded by Welsh Government, via its Active Travel Fund.
The Council has removed 28 barriers on the Taff Trail (National Cycling Route 8), of which 16 are replaced by a either a single bollard or a formation of them. This includes bollard upgrades on Ynysangharad Road,Pontypridd where the carriageway has been lowered to allow a level route for cyclists.
Similarly, 16 barriers have been removed on the Cynon Trail/Heads of the Valleys routes (National Cycling Routes 478/46), of which five have been replaced by either a single bollard or bollards. A small number of existing bollards are now upgraded, while six barriers have been left in place. Also, six barriers on the Church Village Community Route have been removed.
Walking and cycling charity Sustrans has praised the Council for its work in this area. It recently shared the story of keen cyclist Amanda Harris from Cross Inn who, in 2014, had a life-changing accident, resulting in paralysis in her right leg and her stomach. Cycling upright is no longer possible for Amanda, but she is able to cycle in a sitting position using a trike.
Cycling gives Amanda freedom and independence, and the ability to exercise outdoors alone. However, she becomes frustrated each time she encounters an access barrier or other obstruction which the front wheels of her trike would not fit through, being unable to carry or push her trike over any such obstacle.
Amanda has praised the network of paths in Rhondda Cynon Taf which have become barrier-free, and she can now move from her house to the Taff Trail – travelling as far as Cardiff or Pontypridd. Read Amanda’s story here.
Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways and Transportation, said: “I’m pleased the Council has made good progress in increasing access onto local community routes. Each change being made has been assessed – striking a balance between the aim of increasing accessibility and combating problems such as anti-social behaviour or illegal off-road motorcycles.
“The Council supports Welsh Government’s aim to increase Active Travel provision in our communities, to help residents walk or cycle in their everyday lives and to increase people’s health and well-being. We are now consulting residents on Active Travel provision across Rhondda Cynon Taf, including our aspirations for the future, following agreement by Cabinet in October – before submitting an updated Integrated Network Map to Welsh Government in 2021.
“Our recent activity in removing access barriers is aimed at increasing Active Travel for all – and the benefits of this work is very well illustrated in Amanda’s story which has been shared by Sustrans. The Council intends to look at how we can make similar changes at further community locations in the future.”