Wales’ minister for economy and transport, leuan Wyn Jones, has announced details of a cycling and walking network in the South Wales Valleys.
£7.6 million is to be invested to finish a £16 million project producing 100 miles of new walking and cycling routes for the Valleys Cycle Network. When completed, the National Cycle Network will be brought within two miles of an extra 636,000 people.
It is hoped that the network will encourage cyclists and walkers while also improving health and cutting congestion and carbon emissions. Following former railways and tramways, the scheme will link existing routes in Swansea, Llynfi, Taff, Ely and Ebbw Valleys and will improve cycle access for areas including Merthyr Tydfil, Pontypridd, llantrisant and Pontypool.
The Sustrans-led project will be funded with £3.5m from the Convergence European Regional Development Fund and £3m from the Welsh Assembly Government. The remainder will be provided by the Big Lottery Fund. Added to the previous £8.2m allocated to the project a total of £16m will be spent on the Valleys Cycle Network.
Jones said: “We are committed to providing more cycling and walking routes throughout Wales, helping people to reduce car journeys and provide them with healthy and cost effective access to employment and training opportunities.
"This project will bring immense benefits to the health and well-being of people in the South Wales Valleys, and to the environment of the area by reducing emissions caused by car use. It will form part of a wider scheme which will encourage more route users across the whole of Wales.
”As demonstrated in our National Transport Plan, we are more committed than ever before to providing more safe cycling and walking routes throughout Wales and will continue to work in partnership with Sustrans to do so."
Leighton Andrews, Deputy Minister for Regeneration, added: “The emphasis is on promoting the natural environment and cultural heritage and concentrates on outdoor activities such as walking and cycling.
“The development of an extensive off road network of footpaths, trail and cycleways is a key element of this project which makes this latest investment development such good news.”
Sustrans Cymru Director Lee Waters said: “These new routes will make it easier for the people of the valleys to get around their communities and to work on foot or by bike, and will also form part of a larger network that will attract tourists from across the country.”