We think we are starting to “get” Cardiff Council’s grand plan. Thin out the herd.
The cost of parking for 10 hours will rise from £5.20 to £8 but the maximum charge will be for 12 hours, which will cost £10.
A little while ago the council was given some extra money to boost walking & cycling –it was awarded the status of “Sustainable Travel City” and told to go off and “make it so“.
Whilst we could spend all day debating whether we saw much value for money from that extra funding (including the £3m over two years for Enfys), shortly after that the Active Travel Bill was passed and became the Active Travel Act (Wales) 2013, forcing local authorities to invest in active travel.
However, rather than use some of the spare road space occupied by nonsensical and often confusing variable lane carriageways like North Road and Penarth Road, it insists on widening the pavements and calling them “shared paths”.
So, you can’t ride on the pavement, except when you can…Right, ok then.
Anyway, what we currently have is a cycle network so fragmented most riders will stick to the road. We have a hunch that the council knows this and instead of providing good infrastructure, they’re going to thin out the traffic and assume we’ll keep using the roads.
So, the plan appears to be, create park & ride areas at the edge of the city and hike the parking up so that people are less inclined to drive into the city centre. That second part kicks in on the weekend.
There is merit to this approach. We already have a coherent network of paths –we call them “roads” but they’re largely full of cars that could be left at home.
By leaving the cars at home we reduce the traffic; the noise; the air pollution and we slash the risk of a grizzly accident involving a child, playing outside in the street like kids of the 80s generation used to.
They’re also expanding the bus lane network which, as it stands, are the best cycle paths we currently have. They’re smooth, there are no pedestrians on them and no roots trying to poke through from underneath. Sure, we have to share them with buses, but there are worse things.
The new structure
The new parking pricing structure appears to have been designed to hit commuter traffic hardest. Those who are here for a couple of hours to go shopping will pay relatively little. However, if you plan to drive into town, park your car and leave it for nigh on 10 hours before heading straight back home again, you will feel it in your wallet.
Currently, if you park in an area that currently costs £5.20 per day, you are likely to be paying £1,196 per year. Under the new structure, you’ll be paying at least £1,840. If you regularly work beyond 6pm, that could be closer to £2,300. (Calculations based on 46 5-day weeks per year)
The challenge will be whether the alternative travel options are up to the job. We’re heading towards winter and we all know what the effect winter has on our rail network. We’ll have leaves and inclement weather again and neither the signalling nor the diesel locomotives we are running are particularly robust. We’re also acutely aware that the Barry and Pontypridd services are armpit room only in the morning rush and have been for over a decade.
The other question, and one I’ve been hoping to answer through our parking project, is do we have the bike parking capacity to cope and will employers accommodate increased demand from cycling employees? We are sure we’ll find out soon enough.