With cities around the UK adopting dedicated infrastructure to boost cycling rates, often to great effect, we thought it would be fun to have a think about how Cardiff might follow suit.
Of course, this is entirely pie-in-the-sky but it is nice to dream. After our frankly depressing helmet post, it’s probably about time we went back to the fun stuff.
What are we talking about?
In Cardiff the closest thing we have to a cycle route is the Taff Trail. It is protected from cars for much (but not all) of it, but shared with pedestrians and dog walkers. It’s not a route that facilitates quick, efficient travel but that is fine –it isn’t really intended for that.
What we need, ideally, is a fast dedicated cycle lane travelling not just north to south, but from east to west. Preferably bi-directional as well.
Local Development Plans
Unless you have been sleeping under a rock, you’ll of course know by now that more houses are planned for some of the green spaces around Cardiff. This presents a logistical challenge for a motor-centric city, because a huge increase in cars is only going to serve to clog up the existing road network that can barely cope with what it has now.
As an additional complication, other councils are also working on similar Local Development Plans and whilst Caerphilly looks to be ditching theirs in favour of a more joined-up approach with neighbouring counties, many people living in Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taff and the Vale of Glamorgan commute into Cardiff. If their populations grow, so will the traffic here.
Of course, we see cycling (along with the Metro) as the solution to this, but for that to happen we are going to need some proper cycle routes. The challenge is working out where to put them. From the LDP we can see that there’s a chunk of housing planned for the area between Pontprennau and Lisvane; between St Fagans and Radyr and also up around Creigiau.
The latter two will no doubt put a great deal of strain on Llantrisant Road, which already backs up from the A48 to Danescourt in the mornings. The Lisvane/Pontprennau development will dump traffic onto a country lane and out either side to Pentwyn and Llanishen. More than a little problematic.
However, to either side of both Llantrisant Road and St Mellons Road is farmland that will eventually be bulldozed to make way for houses. Plenty of room for dedicated cycle lanes, so we’re not too worried about that –as long as they put them in.
The challenge is joining up the existing communities.
The old A48, which many of us know as Newport Road is in some sections a single carriageway road plus a bus lane. In some places it is a dual-carriageway plus a bus lane.
The trouble is, this expansion and contraction is confusing and leads to people being in the wrong lane or chancing their luck and leaving moving into the prevailing lane until the last minute. This slows everyone down and causes traffic to build up. You could make Newport Road a single-carriageway road (plus a right-turn lane where necessary) from Llanrumney all the way to Stuttgarter Strasse; Kingsway; Castle Street and onto Wellington Street. You could do this by moving the bus lanes further out and into the current left-hand lane, adding a new kerb & bus stops along the edge of the bus lane and a two-way cycle lane where the current pavement is now.
This would provide space for a two-way protected cycle lane from one side of Cardiff to near enough the other side.
It’s a similar situation on North Road, which contracts to three lanes at Maindy. Simply remove that 3rd lane and knock it down to a continuous single carriageway road from the flyover (which is 30mph anyway). This will give ample room for a protected cycle lane from Gabalfa to its connection with our east/west route at Kingsway.
Caerphilly Road presents a little bit of a challenge –one that the Council currently wants to resolve by diverting us away from all of the shops and businesses in Birchgrove and taking us down the residential streets from Maes-y-Coed Road. We think this is a monumentally shoddy idea, as it ignores the simple fact that people on bikes spend money too.
However, there is parking on both sides of the road and very wide traffic lanes. Drop that parking down to one side and put a protected cycle lane in instead.
Cardiff’s Forthcoming Cycling Strategy…
Over the coming months we’re going to get to see just what the Council is planning to do to get people cycling and achieve their aimed 50/50 modal split between cars and sustainable transport.
We are fully expecting them to be resolutely unambitious with their plans for cycle infrastructure –more shared paths and more advisory lanes, possibly with a missing centre line, such as on James Street in Bute Town.
What we all need to do is keep the pressure on our councillors as this strategy is drafted. If we want to see more people out on bikes, the infrastructure needs to be up to scratch.
We would like YOU to look up your councillor on the Council’s website, note the contact details that they provide and either email them or tweet them that you would like to see proper, protected cycle lanes installed around Cardiff. We need to be heard above those complaining about the lack of car parking, so we’re going to have to shout!
A few years have passed since we wrote this. As of March 2019, we have some protected cycle lanes starting to appear around Cardiff. A stretch of Maes-y-Coed Road has been built; a new cycle lane along North Road. On 18th March we’ll see shovels in the ground for the first stretch of the primary North-South route. You can read more about that here.