SUSTRANS has defended its cycling network in Penarth and praised the impact of projects including the controversial Sully Terrace cycle path.

The charity, which aims to improve people’s health by increase the amount of people using sustainable transport, also praised the impact of the zig-zag paths at Penarth Marina and Dingle Park, the Pont-y-Werin Bridge, and the contra-flow cycle lane on Arcot Street.

The charity also revealed that Hickman Road was seen as the “missing link” in the Penarth network and that they were endeavouring to find a way to make the junction safer.

Jane Lorimer, the national director of Sustrans, was giving a presentation to Penarth Town Council’s leisure and amenities committee meeting about the work it carries out in the community last Thursday, May 22.

After the presentation Penarth councillors said that the perception of cyclists was that they were “aggressive”, rode too fast near pedestrians and frequently rode through red traffic lights.

Deputy Town Clerk Keri Hutchings, a keen cyclist himself, said that “cyclists aren’t really welcomed in this area” and that “it’s a hostile environment to be in”.

Jane Lorimer, who lives in Penarth herself, said that the charity tried to encourage people to walk and cycle along its routes in a considerate manner, and that none of its promotional material showed cyclists speeding.

She told the committee meeting that the aims of Sustrans were to reduce carbon emissions, improve road safety and make the environment safer and more attractive for walking and cycling.

She added that they also aimed to encourage sustainable transport choices and influence policy to implement this.

She said that there were 1,270 miles of the National Cycle Network in Wales and that 35 million journeys were taken on them.

She said there was “a lot of support” for the Pont-y-Werin bridge after it had been built thanks to funding from the National Lottery, Vale Council and Welsh Government.

The bridge, which links Penarth to Cardiff Bay, was also presented with the National Lottery Award 2013 after a public vote.

She added that the Arcot Street contra-flow cycle lane had been used in promotional material by Sustrans to show “safe, convenient and direct travel avenues”.

She said that there had been a need to manage and provide additional parking and the solution had been to give cyclists priority over car users in a contra-flow cycling lane.

“We need to make our town centre's transport provision convenient, safe and accessible,” she added.

Councillor Rhiannon Birch, who was chairing the committee meeting, said there had been a lot of negative publicity surrounding cyclists in Penarth, particularly on the Sully terrace railway cycle path.

Councilor Lis Burnett said that there was a lot of concern about the Sully Terrace railway path but that now it was proving to be successful as lots of people were using it.

She added that it fitted in well with Penarth being a Well Being town.

Councillor Neil Thomas thanked Jane Lorimer for coming to the meeting and “dispelling the spin and misinformation put out in the area about what Sustrans is all about”.

He added that the perception of cyclists was seeing them riding through red lights, going the wrong way up one-way streets, zooming around on pavements and ignoring the Highway Code.

In response Jane Lorimer said: “Once we get properly designed infrastructures those sort of situations should reduce.”

Deputy Town Clerk Keri Hutchings, a keen cyclist himself, said that “cyclists aren’t really welcomed in this area” and that “it’s a hostile environment to be in”.

Jane Lorimer said: “We are saying it’s not about speed but about being convenient and safe.”