The Zig-Zag Path - as it looked when new in 2013. It's deteriorated since then

The Zig-Zag Path – as it looked when new in 2013. It’s deteriorated since then

Penarth Marina Residents have been told that the long-awaited lighting for the Zig Zag Path – the controversial £227,000 combined foot-and-cycle path which runs from Penarth Heights down to Terra Nova Way at Penarth Marina – is now planned “for 2017” .

Currently it’s dangerous to use the path at night – particularly in the winter months – because of the lack of lighting. However Penarth Marina Residents Association members have also been told that the Vale Council has  “no legal obligation ” to install any lighting and that they will need to continue to  bring continual pressure to bear to get this done.

Steel safety railings are supposed to stop cyclists overshooting the bends - but in less than a year they had been broken

Steel safety railings are supposed to stop cyclists overshooting the bends – but in less than a year some of them had been broken

Back in November 2013, however ,the Vale of Glamorgan Council had  confirmed hat it was to spend an additional £1o0,000 on lighting for the Zig-Zag . The lighting was supposed to have been installed  within the  “2015/16 financial year ” at a cost of £75,000  – but it never happened.

What the council called “preliminary design work” – costing an additional  £25,000 – was carried out in 2014 but no actual physical work was done on the path itself.

After being open for just 12 months the surface of the Zig Zag was breaking up

After being open for just 12 months the surface of the Zig Zag was breaking up

The zig-zag path originally opened on May 23rd 2013 but has remained unlit ever since –   despite the Vale Council having announced a decision in principle to illuminate the path back in August 2013 –  after local residents complained it was impractical and downright-dangerous for pedestrians or bikes to use the zig-zag after dark.

In November 2014 the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s ruling “cabinet” took the decision to decision taken to fund the lighting of the path – subject to planning permission (from the Vale itself) and to comments from Penarth Town Council .

Skateboarders took top the new path  saying "This is the best skateboard track in Britain"

Skateboarders took to the new path saying “This is the best skateboard track in Britain”

The path is easier to walk up than ascend on a bike, but is not actually as steep as it appears to be . The Penarth Marina Residents Association, which has been pressing for the path to  be available for use after dark  – especially during the winter months had welcomed the news that the long-awaited lighting project was – as they thought – going ahead after 14 months of delay. In the event however nothing was done .

Heavy machinery clearing trees and natural habitat on the route of the Zig Zag path in March last year

Heavy machinery clearing trees and natural habitat on the route of the Zig Zag path in March 2013

The construction of the path was originally 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.

The path was the initiative of the Vale of Glamorgan Council in collaboration with SEWTA (the South East Wales Transport Alliance) and the pro-cycling “charity” Sustrans

Most Sustrans income is derived from projects paid for by public money but it also receives direct funding from bicycle manufacturers. The funding for the Zig-Zag path 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 eventual total cost was estimated to have been well-over £250,000. The additional lighting, now to be installed, will bring the total cost of what has been described as a Labour Party “vanity-project” to £350,000.

It’s also now envisaged that seating, trees and planting as well as “street-art” will be placed on each bend of the Zig Zag.

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  1. AK says:

    Cyclists should have lights, so no lighting required for them.

    If it must have lights, then the railings on the bends could be used as conduits to install simple LED lights (as used on the Pont y Wern bridge already.

    No doubt however, the Vale will go for the most expensive option!

    • Philip Rapier says:

      I bought some Garden Solar Lights in Poundland on Queen Street , yesterday 2 for a Quid. Fix industry standards ones to a concrete base flange plate put a vandal deterrent wire cage around them. Cheap as chips. Roll on the merger with our efficient Capital City Cardiff, a charismatic “Elected Mayor” preferably with a better hairstyle than Boris , ( much cheaper and no more Cabinets that means) and a reduction in Community Charge will naturally follow.

    • Bobby says:

      Cyclists only require lights to be seen and not to see where they are going because roads in urban areas should be street-lit.

      I like your idea to replicate the LEDs used on the bridge but the problem with low level lighting is that they are more susceptible to vandalism which is why councils tend to favour the more traditional lighting column. A lighting column also gives a wider spread of light compared to low level lighting.

      • pompousfruit says:

        I agree with you there. I remember having to use the old bulb cycle lights which took C and D batteries to see as well as to be seen. The cycle lights were heavy and the batteries expensive unless rechargeables when they would last just a two or three hours at the most before needing to be recharged. As soon as the small LED lights were on sale I started using them to be seen in urban areas at night and the old cycle lights to see when out in the countryside.

  2. James says:

    I walk the zig-zag in all conditions and have found that a torch (costing £7) is perfectly adequate to light the path. I consider my safety is my responsibility.

    • snoggerdog says:

      well put james,no nanny for you.

    • Timothy Hughes says:

      Have to agree, have cycled and walked it at night without any issue.

    • pompousfruit says:

      What if you were out later than you had planned to be and didn’t have a torch on you. So pleased when lighting was put on the paths off Summerfield Place in Cardiff so I didn’t have to remember to have a torch on me and even when using one it doesn’t light the whole path so somebody could be hiding in dark corners.

  3. CAH says:

    Excellent idea! No need for unsightly lights with the attendant light pollution.

  4. Martin Coffee says:

    Political people like re-announcing things. They might not think that normal people notice these things but I do. Why should Barry be any different?

  5. James says:

    I feel there is a depressing, perfunctory political correctness to this ‘path’. It has no ‘soul’, it’s a ghastly chore and bore for pedestrians to wind round the endless ‘bends’ – hence the proper ‘grassy’ routes which have formed by frustrated walkers – and the whole thing is as ugly as sin. I rarely see any cyclists using it – they seem to prefer the lure of the Custom House Hill – and every time I’ve used it, there’s been nobody else about. Please, no lighting to further illuminate such a horrible thing.

    • Sarah says:

      I’m not quite sure why lots of people suggest that the cycle path is not used by cyclists. I live right at the top of the cycle path and see many cyclists using it every single day.

      If there are active plans regarding ‘street art’, public consultation is going to be very important.

    • pompousfruit says:

      That’s only because Custom House Hill is closer to the Barrage and the town centre. I hate even pushing a bicycle up that hill and the even steeper roads between that and Windsor Road. Sometimes it’s better to take a longer route between the Barrage and the town centre and use the zig zag path.

  6. Jane Foster says:

    Could someone please tell me what “street art” means in this instance? I always thought it meant graffiti style murals (for example, the wall on the SET building in Cardiff) but how they could put some of those where there isn’t a street?

  7. AK says:

    Street art will be like the rusty figures by the swing bridge, or a giant obelisk with a statue of (insert name) on top.

    Your votes please…………………….

    (posters to this blog are not allowed to be nominated)

Comments are closed.