Safety concerns raised over Caernarfon bypass

The Welsh Government’s plans for the new A487 Caernarfon bypass pose a safety risk and offer poor access for those walking and cycling, say three sustainable transport charities.

Sustrans Cymru, Ramblers Cymru, and Cycling UK have joined forces to call for a re-think to the road plans.

Under the Welsh Government’s own Active Travel Act, road developers have a duty to consider and improve walking and cycling provision. But the charities warn that those needs are not being considered properly.

A public inquiry for the £125m scheme began on 13 June.

The charities highlight a list of concerns:

* The proposed crossings of two main roads at Lôn Eifion, a popular traffic-free route for walking and cycling used by children, dog walkers, buggy pushers, people with assisted mobility needs, as well as tourists.

* No direct motor access between the bypass and Caernarfon suburbs, without which congestion in the town will still cause problems.

* Limited safe crossings for walking and cycling around other roundabouts.

* No additional walking and cycling links from the Bontnewydd area towards Caeathro, Cibyn Industrial Estate and the Bethel roundabout.

* No additional crossing provisions on the redesigned Plas Menai roundabout.

The new A487 bypass would be routed from the A487/A499 Goat roundabout, heading north and skirting Dinas, Bontnewydd, Caeathro and Caernarfon, before rejoining the A487 at the Plas Menai roundabout, near Y Felinheli.

Speaking on behalf of the charities, Sustrans Cymru’s North Wales Manager Glyn Evans says: “The Welsh Government was rightly proud when the National Assembly passed the Active Travel Act in 2013, but its current plans for the A487 bypass risk riding roughshod over that landmark law.

“If Welsh Government is to go ahead with the bypass scheme, it is essential that it does so in a way that protects safety and improves access for walking and cycling.

“The route cuts across a number of important walking and cycling routes, and as it stands, the current proposals will make it harder and more dangerous for people going to and from work or school, running an everyday errand, or enjoying the beautiful countryside Gwynedd has to offer. Whilst walking and cycling will bear the brunt of these plans, drivers using the new route could also be effected.”

With the public inquiry expected to end in four or five weeks, the three charities, who have all lodged official objections, have called on Ken Skates, the North Wales-based minister responsible for transport, to re-think plans and propose improvements.

Evans concludes: “We’re building a bypass that will last for generations. Mistakes made will be set in stone for years to come, so it’s vital Welsh Government gets the layout right the first time round.

“Failure to do so will jeopardise safety, restrict access and ultimately cost the taxpayer more in the long-run. The A487 improvement is a key test of whether or not the Welsh Government is serious about following its own rules and implementing the Active Travel Act.”

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