The Cardiff By Bike East-West Challenge!

Whilst it has its critics, the Taff Trail is a fairly accessible way to traverse Cardiff from north to south. However, those travelling east to west are out of luck…or are they?

This is where YOU come in. We would like to call on the combined knowledge of Cardiff’s cyclists to find a reasonably safe & pleasant way to get from one side of Cardiff to the other.

  • The starting point will be the Village Inn in Pontprennau –the centre of one of Cardiff’s newest areas of urban sprawl in the east of Cardiff.
  • The destination is the Welsh Folk museum in St Fagans — a great place to go with the family and the home of the best Welshcakes we’ve ever had. It’s also near Culverhouse Cross and another major residential area.

The obvious stipulation is that you can’t use the A48 and should ideally stick to roads with a speed limit no higher than 30mph where no off-road path exists. Residential streets are ideal here.

Consider that sometimes the most direct routes will be those with the heaviest traffic at peak times –this is where your local knowledge comes in. Ask yourself, would I send a loved one down this road on a bike?

The current Enfys map suggests routes into the centre of Cardiff to where the “hub” will be, but this in itself is a very busy circuit around the main commercial centre, but may be useful as a starting point.

If you’d like to have a crack at this, you can either comment below with a link to your Strava or Garmin Connect route or activity, or try to come up with something on the mapping website of your choice, as long as there is a public link we can all see.

We’ll even try out some of the better suggestions! Have fun and, if you decide to try any of these routes out, it’s at your own risk, obviously. There’s no time limit for this, but we’re hopeful it’ll generate some useful discussion and insight.

11 thoughts on “The Cardiff By Bike East-West Challenge!

  1. Why start in Pontprennau, not St Mellons? I used to cycle from Heath to St Mellons, and the challenge is to cross the river Rhymney. Try getting from Pontprennau to Newport safely – that’s a challenge!

    1. St Mellons is one we can look at another time. However, we did Pontprennau to Newport during an Audax this year, using the lanes through old St Mellons and onto the old A48. However, you can take Heol Las down to Wentloog avenue & follow that all the way to Duffryn where you can join NCN 4. As for getting across Cardiff from either Pontprennau or St Mellons…tricky.

  2. Moving East-West without the A48 is a fun challenge by any mode of transport in Cardiff. Often have to get to Llandaff from Roath and the more you think about the options the less you want to bother.

    For this challenge, stay north and it’s quite easy – go to Llanishen via the lanes and Lisvane. Rhiwbina, Whitchurch, Llandaff North, Fairwater, and on to St Fagans.

    The lane is busy and dangerous so I’d not send a loved one down it at peak times.

    As a motorist I often take roads and am ignorant of cycle cheats one of which I found whilst plotting this on a map, so the exercise (without any actual exercise) has taught me something.

    1. Yes those lanes are worse than the A48 in my opinion at peak times. I have been known to do these things but they are pretty lumpy as well as being potentially busy with traffic. As I say below, define safe and pleasant. I’m pretty sure some walking would get done on some of the steep lumps by a non-committed cyclist 😉

      1. Thanks, David. This is very useful information. Safe and pleasant would be a route you could recommend to a nervous rider or novice. It is entirely possible that such a thing cannot be achieved right now, but if we can come out of this with the least worst option then we will arguably have achieved something.

        There are residential streets all over Cardiff with filtered permeability that would be hard to spot on a map; there are relatively calm stretches of major roads and even some back lanes that may provide a useful alternative to the obvious option. Obviously you cannot remove risk entirely –even the Taff Trail can be treacherous during the winter, but it would be good to tap into the local knowledge our cyclists have.

  3. Define safe and pleasant. Going from there to St Fagans you’re going to get quite a lumpy route if you avoid the A48. I cycle from Caerau, very near St Fagans to the Cardiff Gate area (very near your start point) quite often to start Audax rides and I always use the A48, there’s little alternative without going a very long way around. If you come to St Fagans from the north you’re going to get some pretty lumpy stuff on the A4119 (loses as prob not a 30 limit) and have to go across the Taff in Llandaff (worse than the A48 imo) or go north of the M4. The Ely trail is horrendous to cycle on around St Fagans – it’s got sand on it! Getting to St Fagans from the south means using Michaelstone road which is ‘in principle’ nice but actually is very narrow with cars squeezing past each other with millimetres to spare prior to getting stuck at the level crossing.
    To get to Cardiff gate I go along the A48 to Gabalfa then up North Road/Thornhill road then along Heathwood road eventually to Old St Mellon’s road -this just means going Pentwyn instead (sorry, wrong direction but just reverse it). If you *really* want to avoid the A48 around Gabalfa then I’d go through Pontcanna on the Taff trail south then head up to Cowbridge road east via the bike routs through Cathays, but you’ll hit the A48 at some point. Avoiding the Cowbridge road west (A48) in Ely could be done going along Grand Avenue and then up Michaelstone road but that has problems as I’ve already mentioned.

    If someone has a good alternative to that I’d be very interested – but I don’t see how 🙂

  4. Avoiding the A48 entirely makes things very tricky doesn’t it. We could stipulate only the stretch between Junction 30 and the WJEC, but as confident cyclists, would we be allowing that confidence to cloud our judgement of how suitable the rest of the A48 is?

    Of course, there is also the “old” A48, which becomes Newport Road. Having ridden this, despite fast-moving traffic there are arguably worse places to ride and, at the bottom of the lane from old St Mellons is a bus lane that doesn’t see too many buses, taking you all the way to Llanrumney. However, it leads to the retail end of Newport Road, which can be very unpleasant to ride.

  5. We’ve got the Council to accept the A48 as the only way over the Taff for many trips, primarily because the Heath hospital is a major destination. So don’t spoil this success, but force them to come up with improvements! We have their audit sheet of the sections from Cdf Institute to the hospital – shows how faulty the process is (see the Campaign’s full response on cardiff-cycling-campaign.org.uk/news). For myself, I prefer to ride on the roadway rather than wheeling my bike over the river section and using the pavement with risk-points at sideroads. The roadway is wide enough to give us an on-road cyclelane, but they’d need to reduce the speed limit to 30mph to comply with Active Travel guidance. Overall, the Active Travel legislation requires Cardiff to plan for cyclists to use all the river Taff bridges (“funnels”; apart from perhaps Hailey Park bridge) and design the network around the rail and river bridges plus identified origins and destinations. The Enfys network virtually did this, which makes the present massacre of it so sad.

    1. Max,
      I’m still not convinced that the Enfys network is being massacred, as you say. I believe it is more a case that in the years since the Enfys map was designed, the game has changed. The work they did to implement Enfys no longer cuts the mustard & they can no longer get away with painting 50cm tracks at the side of the road in red paint. There’s now a Metro project and a city region to plan for, not to mention the additional housing projects recently announced. Enfys served its purpose, in that it got the ball rolling. It was arguably overambitious for the funding that was available, especially as it was for just two financial years.

      Many of the routes on the map are still just lines on a map. There’s no infrastructure to back them up and where there is, it isn’t good enough. Time to draw a line under Enfys and attempt to shape whatever takes its place (Enfys 2 if the LTP is anything to go by). Time to bend the ears of the Cardiff Capital Region board members.

      The new plan, following this existing routes consultation will likely have a more multi-modal focus than the original Enfys plan, with routes starting and ending at Cardiff Central and at the major park & ride sites, for example. Also, now that they can plan on a 3-year basis, we could possibly see projects a little more ambitious than what we saw in the Enfys era.

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