It appears that cyclists – once envisaged as the prime users of Penarth’s controversial Zig-Zag path – are to be excluded from a new “feeder” path being built to connect with the down-hill route.
The new section of footpath will run from the last-but-one curve of the Zig-Zag up to a point near at Trem y Bae at the top of the Penarth Heights escarpment – a section of the estate which is further west than the existing start-point at St Joseph’s Mews. The new section will serve pedestrians who live in the Trem y Bae, Trem Elai and Gibson Way areas of Penarth Heights.
In contrast with the 3 metre width of the main Zig Zag path (which is the minimum width possible for safe use by both cyclists and pedestrians) the new section of path will be only 1 metre wide – which residents believe will confine its use to pedestrians only.
The construction area has been temporarily fenced off whilst work on the new pathway is carried out . All the bushes, trees and vegetation at the top of the escarpment have been removed to facilitate the development.
The Zig Zag path itself – which some local residents say was a just vanity project for the Labour-controlled Vale Council – is still being heavily criticised for its lack of lighting – which makes it hazardous to use at night.
One couple who moved to Penarth Heights three years ago told PDN that they had to use torches to find their way up the incline after dark.
A sum of £25,000 was allocated for lighting on the Zig Zag path last year – derived from the £325,000 Penarth Heights Highways and Sustainable Transport Projects budget – but no lighting has yet appeared.
Apart from lighting. there are a number of other features of the original design which are still missing. These include “Combined rest / viewing platforms” which were supposed to be “positioned at regular intervals along the path within its apex corners”. The Vale of Glamorgan Council had also said “the platforms will be afforded with street art”. None of these features was installed.
There is still no sign either of the heavily criticised “Twinkling Weather Station” which was supposed to be installed in Penarth Heights at the top of the escarpment so that it could be seen from across Cardiff Bay . Locals say they believe the weight of criticism has led to the concept being quietly junked.
The £250,000 Zig-Zag Path 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”/lobby group Sustrans .
Sustrans is 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.
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 claimed to be “keen cyclists” .
However the Zig Zag path itself is now primarily being used, not by bikers, but by pedestrians.
Cyclists – for whom the convoluted route was originally designed – appear to have largely abandoned the route and continue to use the main roads instead.