"Seismic". That was how Cycling UK described the Welsh government's decision to scrap all its road building plans, and to start afresh with an eye on encouraging sustainable and active transport over car use.
From now on, road building projects in Wales will have to meet four separate criteria which seek to reduce carbon emissions, encourage cycling, walking and public transport use, and improve safety.
It all seems to add up to great news for Welsh cyclists – not to mention the environment.
Cycling UK's head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore called it "a marked shift from other UK administrations’ simplistic and outdated views of building more roads as the answer to all transport woes from congestion to poor air quality.”
He added: “[It is] the most significant change in UK roads building policy over the last 20 years. The proposals are bold in principle and forward-looking as they realise the economic benefit of placing people and the environment at the heart of transport policy."
Writing on the Cycling UK website Dollimore added: "At last a government in the UK has fully accepted what the evidence has shown for decades: you can’t just build your way out of congestion."
"When we build new roads, we make it easier for people to make more car journeys, so we get more motor traffic and the congestion doesn’t disappear - it just returns."
It was a "groundbreaking" moment, Dollimore added, heralding "a fundamental shift in approach to roads investment which other governments in the UK simply can’t ignore."
Sustainable transport charity Sustrans welcomed the announcement, and said Westminster needed to take note.
"Whilst the Welsh Government is reviewing road building schemes to ensure they fit with the need to reduce traffic emissions, the UK Government is spending billions on major road building projects – this must stop," it said.
The announcement, by the Welsh deputy minister for climate change Lee Waters, comes off the back of the Welsh Roads Review.
Waters told the Senedd: "We will not get to net zero unless we stop doing the same thing over and over," reports the BBC. "None of this is easy but neither is the alternative."
A number of major road building projects in Wales have now been scrapped adds the report, including the third Menai Bridge and the controversial Flintshire 'Red Route'.
The four criteria new projects will have to meet are as follows:
- Support modal shift (more journeys walked, cycled or using public transport) and reduce carbon emissions.
- Improve safety through small-scale changes.
- Adapt to the impacts of climate change.
- Provide access and connectivity to jobs and centres of economic activity in a way that supports modal shift.
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