Earlier today we posted to Twitter a new transport project that Cardiff Council are consulting on. It is probably fair to say that the feedback was overwhelmingly negative.
So, what is it?
The plan is to put a south-bound bus lane at the Cowbridge Road end of Cathedral Road, with a north-bound 1.5m wide cycle lane heading north. It would however be an advisory cycle lane, so without enforcement just as it has on Wellington Street, it becomes a parking lane. As the council put it:
A cycle lane is part of the road, which is intended specifically for cyclists to use. In order to allow comfortable use by cyclists, including those using trailers and cycles/tricycles used by disabled people, cycle lanes should normally be 1.5m wide and is generally identified by a red coloured surface. Advisory traffic lanes are primarily used to warn motorists of the possible presence of cyclists, and to encourage motorists to adopt a line of travel away from the kerb. However it is permissible for motor vehicles to stray into advisory cycle lanes.
So, just as you see frequently on James St in Cardiff Bay, people will park in these lanes and they’ll also stray into them with impunity. Confident cyclists only, then.
Confusingly, as was pointed out on Twitter, there is a perfectly good shared-use path running parallel to Cathedral Road –the Taff Trail…
The scheme will also include changes to some of the crossings on Cathedral Road, as well as some of the build-outs at Talbot and Hamilton Street.
Whilst we’re happy to accept more cycle infrastructure, I don’t think we should accept bad infrastructure and, on their current trajectory, Cardiff Council appears to be set on these fundamentally compromised piecemeal projects.
Perhaps most frustrating of all, with a few exceptions, most cities in the UK are steaming ahead with 20mph zones and super-highways and all-sorts. There’s a lot of political will behind sustainable transport in Wales –the Active Travel Act and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act are in place and give the council little room to wriggle out of facilitating a modal shift in transport choices, but they do need the input of us two-wheeled folk.
Hatching a plan
The great feedback we received gave us an idea. Whilst it would be great if you made contact with the council yourselves, if you don’t want to and would feel more comfortable commenting on the project in the box below, we’ll compile the responses and draft a letter/email on your behalf.
Please try to keep the comments constructive and, if possible, include ideas for improvement. I would imagine that as is the usual story with these consultations, they’ll happen whether they are wanted or not. However, we do have an opportunity to refine some of the details. You know how these things work –you don’t ask, you don’t get.
If it works, we’ll keep doing it.
Why – this is no more than a bus lane and a token cycle lane
how about a dedicated cycle route up thornhill road instead linking Excalibur drive to encourage safe cycling to work from Cardiff North
Nicely put Gavin. I agree, holding our breathe waiting for acceptance of suggestions is not a wise move. This council has a history of ploughing ahead with their own proposals no matter what the objections or better alternatives are.. you only have to ask the local police, when it comes to council policy on continuing to grant alcohol licenses in the city centre. I’ve just written to Council, but don’t expect much back.
I live on Ryder St, right in the middle of these changes, and cycle daily through all parts of the proposed changes. I’d say I’m a pretty experienced cyclist and find this a pretty dangerous section of road already and see very little improvement with the proposals. In some areas, I believe it’s increasing risk quite a bit.
My main concern is that a lot of cyclists are currently able to use the quiet and safer side streets behind Cathedral Rd and then use the traffic light crossing from Talbot St to Sophia Close (and vice versa) to avoid even having to travel down Cathedral Rd at all, before joining the Taff Trail or access lanes, alongside Pontcanna Fields and the temporary Coach Station. Now this relative safety is to be removed when travelling from the west/Canton side of Cathedral Rd. With the proposed 1-way system, all cyclists wanting access to these safer paths will be forced to travel along Cathedral Rd at some point. The obvious route being down Hamilton St, turning left into busy Cathedral Rd, travelling along some imaginary bike lane for 100m and then cutting across a busy lane of traffic to turn right at the traffic lights into Sophia Close.
Alternatively, if it’s the right direction, you can turn right and cross over Cathedral Rd from Hamilton St and travel south along the new bus lane. Even on a quiet day it’s difficult to cross Cathedral Rd from here, but at rush hour and with an increased number of both cars and bikes turning out of Hamilton St, it will become horrible. I also anticipate it winding up vehicle drivers, while cyclists wait for enough time to cross the 2 lanes. I do this right-turn myself regularly, and get no end of abuse from drivers waiting behind.
Alternatively, you can get off your bike and walk it along the pavement down Talbot St and use the new crossings on foot. This seems a sensible option for safety, but not for increasing cycle usage.
BUT alas, any experienced cyclists and road users know none of these will happen for the large number of casual cyclists. Casual cyclists will just attempt to cycle the wrong way down Talbot Street or mount the pavement rather than going around. It’s “the path of least resistance”, and that principle appears to never come into the minds of those designing these road and cycle systems. Many of those cyclists that do follow the rules, and particularly inexperienced cyclists, will be put off by cycling along the busy road and trying to get across traffic on Cathedral Rd and waiting at the right-hand filter.
Pavement use by cyclists is already high along the road with 3 obvious reasons:
1) The road is lethal – between minimal road width, traffic speed, parked cars, islands, potholes/poor surface and, recently, the large number of coaches (and advisory bike lanes don’t help anything)
2) The safe, quiet road behind is not adequately accessible, signposted and is mostly unlit at night.
3) It’s the path of least resistance.
Whenever a council proposes any advisory cycle lane, I think it’s fairly clear that they don’t care too much for cyclists but will give them a token gesture of a few tins of red and white paint to count towards their own transport stats. Private hire taxis currently, and continuously, use the area proposed for the advisory bike lane as a resting stop between calls, and I don’t anticipate this changing at all when the new paint is laid.
So, from a cynical cyclists point of view, other than for experienced cyclists, I see this whole section as being pretty disastrous and no improvement on what is currently there, other than the ability to use a bus lane for about 100 metres in one direction. But as already said, there is a safer, quiet, fast, bi-directional lane running parallel not more than 30 metres away. I also can’t see how it improves anything for the small number of buses travelling along here, until the whole of Cathedral Rd has a bus lane and restricted parking.
Great comment, Dave, thanks!
Another ridiculous idea which appears to have ignored what cyclists need and what will encourage people to cycle more. With nothing to enforce motorists parking or merging into the lane it’s another waste of money. Shared pavements would be far safer and better.
IMHO… Just a few thoughts..
I guess the first thing we have to do is prove whether this cycle lane will benefit cyclists.
1) With a width of 1.5 metres, this lane is pushing the boundaries of where you should generally be positioned on the road, which means you’re riding the line of the lane. Motorists will not love you for this and, as I recently experienced on Penarth Road heading out of town, was gesticulated at to move inwards, closer to the kerb, rather than them using the other vehicle lane to overtake me.
2) Highway code rule 163 describes how motorists should overtake a cyclist and says they should give as much width as passing a car.
But I would suggest that an inexperienced rider cycling within the confines of a 1.5m cycle lane would be subject to more close passes by vehicles overtaking because of the ‘illusion of protection’ of a white line, than if there were no white line present.
So…. This to me negates any potential benefits of the lane, even before we get into parked cars and cars using the cycle lane to undertake other drivers turning right (which is what so often happens at the junction of James St & Dumballs road in the bay – as mentioned above)
Quite simply this lane does not benefit cyclists. It merely adds a means for drivers to ignore you without necessarily giving you the correct overtaking space, thanks to the ‘magic white line’.
On a different tack.. Many have commented about the Taff trail running parallel through the park. It’s fair to say this is good, except on winter nights when it is absolutely pitch black. How about some low level lights running along the road park that goes from the Horse riding school to Sophia Gardens?
And another thought entirely. It’s reasonably well agreed that routes North to South are ok, thanks to the Taff Trail but routes East to West are shocking. Why are we seeing this sort of plan but nothing along say Newport Road?
Well said, Steve, thanks.