‘Busting out all over’ – the green shoots are now showing on the little-used £250,000 Zig Zag path
The controversial but little-used £250,00 Zig-Zag Cycle Track leading from Penarth Heights to Terra Nova Way in Penarth Marina is now beginning to be broken-up by Mother Nature – barely 15 months after its opening last year.
The £250,000 zig-zag path is deteriorating after being open for only a year
The Zig-Zag Path – which has been condemned both as a white elephant and a monstrous waste of public money – was installed as what some call a “vanity project” by the Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council.
The path replaced an old and well-used footpath which once connected the now-demolished Billybanks to the Marina. This footpath was removed to lay drains for the Penarth Heights development.
Heavy machinery cleared trees and natural habitat on the route of the Zig Zag path in March last year
The Zig-Zag Path was publicly presented as being an “environmental” project – but actually turned out to be anything but.
Sound mature trees were arbitrarily felled and natural habitat torn-out to clear the site for the convoluted tarmac roadway down the steep escarpment. Local residents say the result has been a marked decline in local bird-numbers and wildlife.
Nature appears to be fighting back and tearing open the tarmac of the Zig-Zag
Now however there are signs that Mother Nature is fighting-back. Humps are appearing in the tarmac surface and in some places green shoots of grass or other plants are now forcing their way through the little-used road surface.
Local residents have told PDN that the Zig-Zag Path (the council’s name -“The Bowl” - didn’t catch-on) was never properly-finished anyway.
Lighting, intended to make it safe for cyclists in the winter evenings, was promised but never installed. No dog or litter bins were put in place.
Steel safety railings are supposed to stop cyclists overshooting the bends – but this one is already broken
One section of the iron railings – installed to prevent speeding cyclists overshooting the steep downhill bends – has come adrift from its mountings.
The land on which the Zig Zag was built is owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
The construction was carried out by Penarth Heights developers Crest Nicholson (who, in felling the trees, helped improve the views from their properties). Maintenance of the Zig-Zag is the responsibility of the Vale Council’s Parks Department.
Opening day – cyclists found they were too puffed to pedal
When the track opened on May 23 2013 cyclists going uphill found the bends absorbed too much momentum.Some resorted to pushing, but most reverted to use the steeper Dock Hill route even though this busy route also carries most of the cars and buses to and from the Marina and the Cardiff Bay Barrage .
Most cyclists opted to carry on using Dock Hill
The zig-zag was an initiative of the Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council in collaboration with SEWTA (the South East Wales Transport Alliance) and the pro-cycling “charity” Sustrans – an organisation which has been heavily criticised by former Mayor of Penarth Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines).
Most Sustrans income is derived from projects paid for by public money but it also receives direct funding from cycle manufacturers.
Vale Councillors Gwyn Roberts and Lis Burnett (both Labour St Augustines) backed the zig zag scheme.
The Zig-Zag Path’s main proponents were Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) who is the Vale Council’s ‘cabinet’ member for transport and Vale Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) both of whom say they are “keen cyclists” .
The funding for the project was originally estimated to be £227,000 comprising:-
- £150,000 from Sustrans subject to the project being physically completed by the end of December 2012 – (which it wasn’t)
- £25,000 from Crest Nicholson.
- £52,000 from Vale of Glamorgan Council (to cover the shortfall)
In the event construction over-ran by five months and the total cost is now estimated to have been well-over £250,000.