The dust is finally starting to settle after a busy few months of consultations and elections, so it is probably a good time to talk about where we go from here.
With the local elections returning a Labour council, there should be some certainty in the way things are heading here in Cardiff.
The Cycle Strategy
As we mentioned in our deep dive series before, it was a little confusing that two separate consultations came out at the same time. However, the only thing the council was obligated to do, by law, was the integrated network maps as part of the Active Travel Act.
Separate from this the Council decided to refresh its pre-Active Travel Act cycling strategy that it created using some one-off funds –along with the Enfys map and a handful of lousy cycle lanes.
Since the original strategy was published the bar has been raised with regards to what level of infrastructure is considered acceptable. This is part of the reason why not much of our existing “infrastructure” made it onto the Existing Route Map. Whilst some may hold the old Enfys network in some regard, it was mostly a paper exercise because the infrastructure that was actually installed was sub-standard and the rest of it never existed at all.
The Existing Network Map, after all, was a stock take of infrastructure that exists right now, not a judgement of a theoretical map that never really amounted to anything in the first place.
Now, the new strategy relatively speaking, is far more bold than what came before it. It was written with the help of Gehl, who know a thing or two about liveable cities. We quite liked the strategy, even if it did raise a few questions. The question we keep hearing is…well, now what?
The next steps for the publication of a new Cycling Strategy for Cardiff are as follows:
- Review of Consultation Responses – April to May 2017
- Amendments Made to Cycling Strategy Where required – May 2017
- Council Approval of Cycling Strategy – July 2017
- Publication of Cycling Strategy – July 2017
So, as we’re at the beginning of July, amendments based on all of our comments will have been fed into the draft strategy. Later this month the strategy should be going to the council for approval and, assuming it is, it should lose its “draft” watermark and become the roadmap for cycling in Cardiff for the next decade. It should inform “how” the lines on the Integrated Network Maps are turned into infrastructure on the ground, particularly the level of segregation required for a particular traffic volume.
Wales Online ran a story recently about the bike share scheme proposed in the Strategy (beware the auto-play video). It seems as though an operator has been found (Nextbike) and is just waiting on sponsorship. It should be up & running by the autumn, so work is clearly going on behind the scenes. If you’d like to try out one of Nextbike’s bikes before the autumn, you’ll find them in Bath.
Hopefully feedback given about the lack of planning around large events and, a lack of bike parking in key places will have made it into the plan too.
You may remember we rode down there once to visit the two tunnels…perhaps a Nextbike road test is another reason for a return visit.
The Integrated Network Maps
The next thing in the pipeline is the Council’s obligation under the Active Travel Act. It has until November 2017 to submit its proposed network map to Welsh Government. We’re hoping that there will be an opportunity to see the new maps before they are submitted, as we would like to see that the suggestions we nagged so hard for you to make have been taken on-board.
There were a couple of notable anomalies in the draft maps we saw a few months ago. There were gaps around a few schools, particularly Radyr which is near an LDP site and we know not everyone was happy that it seemed preoccupied with the new developments at the expense of existing ones.
While we wait for those revised plans, our neighbours in the Vale, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Caerphilly and Newport are also consulting on their maps. The key here is whether our routes link up with theirs. At first glance, this doesn’t always appear to be the case.
If you do travel in from across county lines, please take the time to examine the maps and see that your needs are being taken into account.
The waiting game…
It’s a frustrating time to be a bicycle user in Cardiff. There are things happening “soon” that should change things for us significantly, but they’re not here yet. However, that also means that there is time to steer the ship.
The local elections were a boon for us, if you think about it. The new cabinet member in charge of Transport is Caro Wild, one of the founding members of Cardiff Cycle City and Chris Weaver is the cabinet member holding the purse strings. Finally, the new leader, Huw Thomas is formerly of Sustrans. Three key people in the cabinet who we need to have on side, are!
We have an interesting few months ahead and we need to keep the constructive suggestions flowing. We’ll keep an eye on the consultation situation, but it would be helpful if you did too.