South East Wales

Cardiff-Newport cycle commuter route planned for 2014

Coedkernew
Image caption The route would run through the countryside around Marshfield and Coedkernew between Newport and Cardiff

There could soon be an alternative to the commuting strain of the M4 between Cardiff and Newport - a cycle path.

A new route for bikes and pedestrians through the countryside between the two cities is being planned.

The proposed path would use some existing roads and see other unclassifed "green lanes" surfaced to provide a continuous route from 2014.

The Sustrans charity has tried out the route and estimates the journey would take a competent cyclist an hour.

The path would take cyclists through the Marshfield area between the cities and avoid the A48 and the seawall road.

The work would be a joint project by Newport and Cardiff councils.

Joanne Gossage, green services manager from Newport council, said: "We have to put forward proposals with routes that we feel are particularly beneficial for improving health, encouraging people to start walking or cycling to work [modal shift] and are a viable alternative to sitting in a traffic jam.

"The biggest hurdle for encouraging modal shift is safety, so this is where this route comes in.

"It will provide a predominantly off-road route or [follow] minor roads. Sections of it will be a brand new path. We'll also be improving the surfacing to some of the more minor lanes that come out of Marshfield."

Some of that work will also include improving unclassified "green lanes".

'It reminded me of being in Holland'

The final route is yet to be decided, and will depend on some negotiations with landowners and some (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) SSSI considerations as part of the route goes through the protected Gwent Levels.

However it will emerge from cycle networks in Newport around the Tredegar House and Celtic Springs area, take the new route across Marshfield and enter Cardiff at the back of Llanrumney, where it will join up with a cycle network in Cardiff.

Ms Gossage added: "The other advantage to creating a route like this is at weekends and other times of day people might feel that, 'oh there is a new route, let's take the family out. It all adds to people's confidence and encouraging them to use bikes more."

The estimate at the moment for the project is £500,000 and the planners are hoping to be able to bid for the money at the end of the year.

Gwyn Smith from sustainable transport charity Sustrans has done a test run on a possible route.

He rode from Cardiff towards Newport, and estimated that a competent cyclist could do the journey from city to city in an hour.

"There's a really fantastic road coming out of Marshfield, no traffic. It feels like you're in the middle of nowhere even though you can see the motorway," he told BBC News.

"It reminded me of being in Holland.

"I had to follow a reen (drainage ditch) at one point but that has the potential to be surfaced."

Mr Smith said the advantage of the route over one which followed the coast was its position.

"What people want is something that's going to go directly from A to B that they can commute along."

A Cardiff Council spokeswoman said the proposals were part of the development of the Enfys cycle network in the city.

She added: "We hope to be in a position to start consultation on the schemes in autumn 2013 and then to bid for further funding to build the scheme in 2014/15.

"The project will create a much needed and regionally important commuting and leisure route between the two cities."

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