Last time we didn’t get around to looking at some of the infrastructure at the southern end of town, particularly the new “cycle street” on Taff Embankment, as well as some old relics on Clarence bridge and James Street.
As today was a beautiful, sunny day it seemed like a good time to head out, armed with a GoPro and a good book, to spend some time near the water.
The Greener Grangetown Project
Way back in 2016 we looked at the Greener Grangetown project. It was an ambitious plan to renovate the Taff Embankment in an attempt to make it a more pleasant place to live and to spend time.
We were then shown the post-consultation image, which at least resolved the narrow pavement issue but removed the cars from the image. The centre of the road has been replaced by what looks like pavé. However, the traffic lane looks narrower; is still two-way and still has parking on one side (we’re unsure about whether cars will be able to park on the river side…).
Being a key active travel route we were keen to see how it would make our lives better as well. The old Taff Embankment had a narrow pavement, cars parked both side and little room in the middle for us to ride along. At 6:50 in the video you can see how all this has changed markedly.
We’d still like to see bollards to stop drivers cutting through to avoid the lights on Penarth Road, but it’s a big improvement nonetheless. Utrecht has a street just like this, which you can see on Google StreetView.
They’ve also removed the pinch point at the end of the street as you head towards Clarence Bridge.
Clarence Bridge & James Street
Clarence Bridge still has one of those murder strips that were all the rage during the Enfys days, before the Active Travel Act came along. They were always a bad idea, often encouraging closer passes than no lane at all. It’s primed for an overhaul, ideally to facilitate movement from the bridge heading north onto the embankment, which is a bit dicey at the moment.
After that we’re onto James Street, which has a similar setup to Cathays Terrace, as we saw in Part 1. It is one where cars and bikes have to fight over the primary position, yet facilitates car parking (at 9:08 in the video), forcing you out into traffic. It wasn’t too bad on this occasion, mainly because it was a bank holiday and the roads were a little quieter than usual. However, it’s a concept that really needs to go away, as we’ve said previously.
After reaching the barrage, we had to turn back because the road was closed, but we did take the opportunity to drop in on our friend Dave at Motorlegs. The workshop isn’t the easiest to find, so you can see the route at 14:30 in the video.
After that, we made use of the rather weird protected lanes on the Castle Street bridge. Approaching them from the west they make a lot more sense than they do from the east, where it is often easier than attempting to join them at speed after you’ve moved off from the lights at the Angel Hotel.
This could be achieved by removing through-traffic from Westgate Street and installing a new highway layout that will improve and connect the current bus network with the new Interchange, Central Square, Central Station and the City Centre Enterprise Zone. In addition, the scheme could offer improved safety for pedestrians via improved pedestrian crossing facilities, 20mph speed limits and an improvement to the pedestrian environment outside of the national stadium. The scheme could also install a network of stepped cycle tracks to connect the area with the proposed cycleway on Castle Street and the Taff Trail routes.
Castle Street is not a nice place to spend time right now, despite to being enclosed on both sides by some stunning buildings, not least Cardiff Castle. Fortunately, the council is obligated to change it, given that pollution levels on that street are borderline.
It’s worth having a read through the Clean Air Cardiff page on the council website, as there are a number of different approaches being considered.
Whilst it may not always feel like it, particularly out in the suburbs, things do seem to be happening. A few new projects, which we’ve seen in the past two videos, have been completed; the Senghennydd Road scheme is underway and more are in the planning stage. There’s even a refreshed Keeping Cardiff Moving website.
Yet these schemes do take time and, like a mosaic puzzle it’ll continue to feel like we’re getting nowhere until the last few pieces are in place. The good news is that we can help to steer the ship, by keeping an eye on the Cycleways consultation page and making sure we all get our comments in.