Primary Routes & Brave New Worlds

Whilst we’ve been watching with interest the developing picture of Cardiff’s main cycle routes, for whatever reason since the deep dive series we’ve not really been compelled to write about each individual plan.

However, the plans for Cathays Terrace and Allensbank Road, forming part of the North/South route is different. It’s oh so interesting…

The Why…

So, as part of the original strategy, Cardiff Council planned to install two “primary” cycle routes, one running north to south –Lisvane to Cardiff Bay, the other east to west, or St Mellons to Creigiau.

Today we are going to look at part of the North-South route, which is of strategic importance, as it links Cathays with the University Hospital Of Wales.

The How…

One part of the puzzle is in place, that being Senghennydd Road, a nice two-way cycle lane, which takes you up to the Woodville pub on Cathays Terrace. The question was always going to be “well, how do you continue up Cathays Terrace from here?

It appears that the cycle lane will continue along Cathays Terrace on the Woodville side, up to the first set of traffic lights. Here there will be a cycle-only stage on the junction with Catherine Street. This is the first of these cycle-only stages we’re going to see in this project.

The cycleway then continues on the other side of the carriageway. Now, there are a lot of side-streets on this side, but if you look closely, these are going to be closed to motor vehicles from Cathays Terrace –there’s still access from the other end I believe.

Moreover, the footways are continuous and there are zebra crossings providing pedestrian access to the bus shelters.

Towards the top of the road where Llantrisant Street comes out at an angle, opposite May Street and Tesco Express you’ll find a tabled crossing, a shared-use area and a crossing over the road and cycleway.

As we head onto Whitchurch Road, there’s a few more curiosities to get our heads around. Firstly, traffic turning right onto Whitchurch Road from Fairoak Road will no longer be able to, so car traffic will have to either access Whitchurch Road from Crwys Road or Cathays Terrace. This will simplify the lighting sequence no doubt, but drivers from Roath travelling north to the M4 or A470 will need to find another route.

Again, this ties into the induced demand phenomenon. It may be that it’s a current problem that will simply resolve itself as the opportunity to cut through disappears. Having lived off Albany Road for a period of time, but with a frequent need to travel into Rhondda Cynon Taf territory, I would ride up Ninian Road, Fairoak Road and take a right up Whitchurch Road. I suspect that drivers would too, if only to avoid Death Junction.

At Gelligaer Street the cycleway once again changes sides, moving over to the cemetery side via a cycle-only signalised crossing. To facilitate this, right turns out of Gelligaer Street are also for the chop.

Once onto Allensbank Road, we have a fairly continuous two-way cycleway all the way along until you reach the lights…with one or two slight caveats. Due to space constraints, the retained bus stops are on shared-use patches, with cycleways either side.

This, if I recall correctly, is mostly car parking at the moment, so this is arguably more bus stop than we currently have, as it is little more than a sign on a lamppost. With that said, all shared-use surfaces have the potential for conflict, particularly as we riders are likely to be at cruising speed at the points where these bus stops appear.

I must admit to being a little concerned about those and would like to know more about how conflict can be mitigated there.

At the Wedal Road junction, there is another cycle-only stage at the lights, before the cycleway continues for a short stretch to the entrance of UHW. It’s at this point the primary route breaks off onto King George V drive, before rejoining Allensbank Road/Heath Park Avenue at the top of the hill.

I’m still not convinced about that…Whilst King George V drive is going to be relatively quiet, it’s arguably less direct than continuing straight on. Then again, building another kilometre of dedicated cycleway adds to the cost of the project. Swings & roundabouts I guess.

The Fairoak Road option

During the initial planning phase, one option they were said to be looking at was to continue the primary route straight on from Cathays Terrace, along Fairoak Road and beyond.

That route would require some work to the roundabout at Roath Park, not to mention a hill under the railway bridge, which is fine going down, but riding a Nextbike up towards Cathays wouldn’t be a lot of fun…especially with the potential for riders coming down the hill at the same time. So, on balance, I think Allensbank Road makes the most sense here.

Thoughts…

Well, well, well… The council has taken some flack for taking on the easier sections first –Lloyd George Avenue, Senghennydd Road, North Road and so on, but this stretch is not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination.

That the council is planning to introduce cycle-only stages on traffic lights; closing side roads to cars; and prohibiting some right-turns I think we’ve reached another level here. On top of the speedy work to build a two-way cycleway across the front of Cardiff Castle, it’s fascinating to watch Caro and his team find their feet.

These plans are pretty bold and, going by the standard set by Senghennydd Road and North Road, once complete it should be fantastic. I’d still like some more detail about the bus stops on Allensbank Road, but otherwise I’m rather impressed. It’s also an excellent learning experience as the council begins to tackle Newport Road.

The consultation runs up to the 31st July 2020, so you can find everything you need to read the plans and respond here.

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