Walking and cycling can be seriously bad for one’s health depending on where one lives in Wales.
We have all walked or cycled at some time in our lives. As children we would have been overjoyed to receive our first bicycle at Christmas time or on a special birthday. Long before the closure of all the small schools in Wales, which were located a short walk from the homes of children and teachers we all walked.
We were brought up on the mantra that fresh air and regular exercise is good for our health. Who would argue against that? The answer is; quite a few people who happen to be living on very busy roads, which are heavily polluted by heavy traffic and dangerous to walk or cycle along.
Not less than twenty years ago this particular author lived and worked in London and owned a bicycle. It was a rare thing to see on the roads apart from the hardy couriers and the handful of keep fit enthusiasts. Fast forward to today and you can’t move for bicycles. Why the revolution and how can a city as large as London be a safer place to cycle than a rural road in Carmarthenshire?
The answer is that measures have been put in place to control the amount of heavy traffic in the City of London and other cities across the UK. Cycle lanes, pedestrianisation of large areas where the public congregate. Lots of greenery, especially trees lining the routes of busy roadways. The city it seems has become a far more attractive option for healthy living by walking and cycling than a small town in Carmarthenshire. If you doubt it take a visit to Llandeilo and speak to the residents there who have been calling for a bypass for many years. Imagine the scene of residents jumping to avoid heavy traffic on a daily basis. That is what is happening between Tregaron and Aberystwyth: Between Tregaron and Aberystwyth residents ‘jump to safety’ to avoid traffic.
Then and Now: Village life in Cynwyl Elfed could not be more perilous but in which century?
You see, the ideas are fine if they work but the reality across Wales is that asking people to get on bikes and travel along a road less safe than playing Russian Roulette is simply bonkers. The idea of cycling and walking for one’s health is one most would agree with and take up if something were done to improve the roads structure to take heavy traffic off these rural routes people live along. I am sure they would walk and cycle along every day until their hearts content should all those fume blasting lorries vanish.
Knock on the doors of residents on Sandy Road in Llanelli or Felinfoel Road or Pwll Road or visit the village of Llanbedr where lorries squeeze through the village leaving pedestrians and cyclists in peril. Don’t take my word for it visit this Twitter feed https://twitter.com/LlanbedrNightm1 and see what life is like for a small Welsh village.
Places like this are the reality for many not the Shangri-la idyll dreamt up by the people telling us how we should live healthier.
There are schemes to loan e-bikes which report a massive positive impact on users. It is of course not scientific but nevertheless, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change and all round cycling fan said recently in relation to an e-bike loan scheme the Welsh Government are putting cash into: “I am delighted that these Welsh Government funded schemes have been a great success. We need to do all we can to encourage more people to swap their car for a bike to travel shorter journeys.
“Cycling isn’t just better for the environment, it’s much cheaper than running a car and great for your mental and physical health too – as a regular cyclist myself, I know this is true. You should give it a try!”
Many thanks Mr Waters, here at HQ we shall dust off the boneshakers and place our lives in your hands and risk the perils of a journey along the short route to Cynwyl Elfed School where even the local cats take a detour over the rooftops.
May we remind Mr Waters of this item by another media outlet. Minister leading roads freeze has claimed for nearly 12,000 miles of car journeys but only three train trips https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/minister-leading-roads-freeze-claimed-26382933
We’d love to see his Strava stats too but let’s not pick solely on Mr Waters. His superiors might be less likely to be seen on a bike.
We recently moved to a beautiful small rural Welsh village to the North of Carmarthenshire. An old photograph shows how the village looked more than a century ago. The place was built in a time when only the horse and cart and the singular motor car frequented the road. No one could have predicted back then when the homes were built that a century later 60 foot juggernauts would be travelling in both directions along that same road through the day and night mounting pavements, shaking homes and polluting the lungs of young children.
History is a wonderful thing. The pervasive view is that we never had it so good as today and that we are healthier than ever. Looking at the old photograph I would beg to differ and so I imagine would the residents living in Welsh towns and villages blighted by heavy polluting traffic and suffering form asthma, afraid to set foot on the pavement outside their front doors, that is if the pavement has not been compulsory purchased to bring the road a little closer to their living rooms.
Don’t get me wrong. I am in favour of a healthy lifestyle. I love to walk and I was a very keen cyclist for many years before the Tour De France knee kicked in. I am all for planting trees and reducing my carbon footprint. I welcome any ideas, which contribute to saving our planet but please don’t pretend that these Government policies will benefit us all when it is clear from a visit to the seat of power in Cardiff that it is based solely on a city dwellers lifestyle.
Wales and its government lack ambition and ideas and I don’t mind putting that on canvas and selling them at the local shop. Instead of wasting cash on race tracks (CO2 alert) and other follies, which have cost the people of Wales dear. Why not start by building an infrastructure to get the huge amount of lorries and freight off the roads? Invest in a freight rail network, new depots, new railways lines, more jobs, less pollution. It is I am afraid far too simple a solution, like planting pollution absorbing plants along roads.
Far from throwing stones and warrioring on the keyboard we at the news HQ would offer an open invite to Julie James and Lee Waters to take a tour with us to some of these places and let the residents have their say. Preferably they would bring their bikes and have a bash at traversing the short routes to school or work, which for many is impossible. We are not sure whether James or Waters click on our news site. Perhaps, if you feel the urge, share this post with them, the invite is there for them to digest and act. Perhaps another solution is for all politicians to be given an electric bike and have their travelling expenses frozen. They are after all asking us to do the same.
Those of us unfortunate enough to live in the rural backwater of Wales are getting the life sucked out of us by juggernauts. If the politicians really want us out of cars and on foot or bikes they have to take a far more active role in long term plans for creating new roads, which would take traffic away from residential areas. We are told that the idea of any new road has been well and truly killed off by our city dwelling, healthy and larger than life politicians. If you say something often enough you might just convince yourself but not A N Other.