The Great North Road Cycleway Upgrade…

We don’t have much in the way of dedicated cycleways here in Cardiff. So rare are they that when you try to ride in one, pedestrians often look at you strangely when you calmly suggest they might want to return to their demarcated side.

One such path is on the barrage, but the other one follows North Road from the ambulance station to the castle. This is the one we are interested in today.

When the going gets…rough

Whilst it is nice to have a path all of our own, it sure is rough. It sits alongside a pristine asphalt car park, all pink, lumpy and unloved. It too is often full of pedestrians but not many of us use it anyway because the car park is far easier on the spine.

The current path runs along the North Road side of the car park, separated from the traffic by a wall, however in many places there is little to separate the path from motorists attempting to invent parking spaces where there are none, as you can see in the photo up top.

So, it’s pretty safe to say a re-think was needed.

You would think that this upgrade would be a mere resurfacing job, but no. The council is planning to move it to the other side of the car park, following the hedge along the Bute Park side.

There will be a 3m cycle path to accommodate two-way traffic, separated from the nearest parking bay by a 2m raised pedestrian footway. There will then be parking bays either side of a 3m “road” for cars.

On paper this looks good. We only have two reservations. Firstly where there are trees, there are leaves and mulch. This car park is no stranger to leaves at the best of times, but at least in its current arrangement there is some separation from the flora.

Secondly, the path links up with the cycleway to Talybont and the Taff Trail. Currently they are pretty well aligned so you can hop straight across the access road for the ambulance station and continue up to the trail. In the new location there will be a dogleg if the Talybont path stays where it is. Momentum is everything when you have to do every mile under your own steam…

Before we move on, one small thing… Why are there bike racks planned for the far end of the car park? Could they not be moved closer to the town end? They’re too close to Talybont for the students, but too far from everything else to be particularly useful.

Corbett Road

The other part of this project is Corbett Road and its junction with North Road. The idea being that users of the North Road path can easily navigate North Road to access Cathays…and vice versa.

On the surface this looks like a big improvement. With that said, it wasn’t long before the comments started to flow on social media. There are a few questions that we would like answered and perhaps some things that need to be looked at. So, we made merry with the red pen…

Annoyingly, there’s some old habits creeping in here. Now, Corbett Road is a pretty busy road at most times of the day, given that it links Cathays with one of Cardiff’s busiest arteries. It queues along much of its length at peak times and that doesn’t look like it is going to change.

Frustratingly, whilst the Cathays end of Corbett Road is a mandatory cycle lane, the sticky end where traffic often queues to get out of Cathays Park is only an advisory lane. It does however become mandatory again as you approach the lights and the Advanced Stop Line.

The council’s cycling strategy suggests that any 30mph road, or even a 20mph road with 3,000 vehicles per day should have segregation from traffic. We would be very surprised if this road saw much less than 3,000 vehicles per day.

If you are familiar with this road, ask yourself if the protection offered here is sufficient that you would be happy to let your child or loved one use it. If not, you really need to let the council know.

The Junction

The council is planning to finally add crossings at these traffic lights. Until now people have been hopping from one traffic island to the next to access the car park and the bus shelter.

To accommodate these crossings an extra “all red” phase will be added to the lights. There will also be dropped curbs to access the crossings for those of us who get around on wheels, be that bicycles, wheelchairs or mobility scooters –the often forgotten beneficiary of investments in cycle infrastructure.

Closing thoughts…

Overall the plan seems OK. Not brilliant, but it’s certainly a good start. Some more protection on Corbett Road would be nice, not to mention some reassurance that the new path on North Road is going to be maintained so that it doesn’t become a liability during the autumn and winter.

Still, the council needs YOUR views rather than ours. Have a read of the full consultation and drop the Transport Projects mailbox a line with any comments or thoughts you have by the 8th December 2017.

4 thoughts on “The Great North Road Cycleway Upgrade…

Add yours

  1. North Road cycles upgrade; welcome the news that work is planned but surely, it will be best to keep away from the fence/tree line. Despite the recent intention, I have only seen one incident of leaf/mulch clearance along the “Cardiff” Taff Trail. A poor effort and why would we think it would be any different if the revamped path is set alongside the fence/tree line?


  2. I agree with your comments about the potential for leaf mulch, in addition the far side of the car park is quite dark. Keeping the track on the North Road side of the car park would benefit from distance from trees and proximity to street lighting.

    In addition to the volume of traffic on Corbett Road that you mention, approximately 1/4 of Corbett Road has three lanes of motor traffic. Together with a 30mph speed limit this means that the minimum provision is cycle tracks according to the Active Travel Act. Segregated cycle tracks would make this road safe for cycling, I hope that the Council make improvements to the plans following the consultation.


  3. I disagree that leaves will be a problem. As a regular user of the Taff Trail, I can certainly say that during autumn I see council vehicles sweeping the leaves at least every two weeks, and leaves naturally move to the sides of the track where they are often swept away by the wind. However, I do agree that the council must be held to account to manage this work when it is needed.
    As this is now being built, I can see that in general it looks good, with good links to other existing infrastructure by the Welsh College and the Taff Trail.
    Perhaps unknown when the consultation came out, Cycle Superhighway 1 will jut out onto Cathays Terrace in the near future, so Corbett Road will then act as a connection between the North Road Cycleway and CS1. I therefore definitely agree that more segregation is needed here.


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