Cardiff Cycling Strategy 2016-2026 – Deep Dive Part 1…

In our previous post we said we’d take a deeper dive into Cardiff’s Cycling Strategy and share findings with you. However, there’s a mind-boggling amount to get through here, so we’re going to break things up into a series of posts.

Also, it is worth remembering that we’ve all been hit with what is essentially two separate exercises on one big lump. On the one side there is the Council’s need to revise its current, ageing cycling strategy, but on the other its obligations to Welsh Government to produce integrated network maps under the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013.

The Strategy Itself…

As part of the Active Travel Act the Council has to produce integrated network maps to show where it plans to improve cycle routes –all councils have to do that, but Cardiff also has ambitions to be a more liveable city and to have 50% of journeys made by sustainable transport (why they don’t push for 75% and live a little dangerously, we don’t know…) and that involves getting more of us cycling.

So, to do that it has produced a strategy document to explain why and how it plans to do that. Currently in draft, the strategy is broken up into 4 sections: introduction, infrastructure, key partnerships and action plan. If you have read the Bike Life Report you’ll be familiar with much of what is contained in the introduction. Suffice to say, cycling in Cardiff is growing and has been since 2005, but they need more of us cycling for health; to prevent gridlock as the city grows and to make the city more liveable. So, we’ll skip straight to the fun part – infrastructure!

Infrastructure…

Let’s face it, this is why we are all here! We want cycle routes that are safe and that we feel comfortable letting our kids loose on. However, to do that it has to up its game –the sliver of paint at the side of the road is not going to cut it anymore –not that the Active Travel Act allows them to get away with that anymore anyway.

Now, since the original Enfys map was published, the Council went and released another half-dozen new sites for housing development. We talked about this growth spurt a little while ago now, but the general consensus at the time seemed to be that Cardiff faced certain gridlock if some things didn’t change.

Understandably, the first priority for the council is to put these new sites onto the cycle map, but just how it plans to do that took us a little by surprise.

integrated-network-map-cycle-routes
All routes, at a glance…

The green lines on the map are new routes –one going from Creigiau to St Mellons via the city centre and one going from Cardiff Bay to the new site north of Lisvane Reservoir. We’ll go into more detail on the changes in Part 2, but they plan to create these routes by carrying out the following:

  • Safety improvements to major junctions
  • Segregated facilities on main roads in key locations
  • Provision of new shortcuts, including bridges, contraflows and filtered permeability.
  • Improvements for quiet local streets including 20mph limits and traffic calming.

Yes, segregated routes are coming. The strategy has set out where segregation is necessary and includes 20mph roads with over 3000 vehicles per day and ANY road above 30mph.

This is particularly interesting because they can either make the majority of roads 20mph or spend more on segregation. Either way things will improve –providing the 20mph limit is enforced, of course.

This brings us onto the purple routes. Many of these are existing routes on the Enfys map, but obviously they require dragging up to standard over the next 10 years.

Measures

It has also set out the measures it will put in place to make things better for us. We won’t list them all, but some of these are a bit of a treat…

  • Early start for cyclists at signal junctions & reduced waiting
  • Parking protected cycle lanes
  • Segregation from pedestrians on off-road paths
  • Adequate space for expected numbers of users
  • Good quality surfaces & appropriate lighting
  • Cycle parking at convenient locations
  • SEGREGATION FROM MOTOR TRAFFIC ON MAIN ROADS!!!

Sorry, we got a bit excited there.

Those new developments, by the way, must be designed from the outset to facilitate cycling for everyday journeys, so says page 21 of this strategy. This is very good news. Routes also must be as direct as possible and can include shortcuts and off-road sections. However, there’s a really interesting line in this document.

…in order to maintain a comprehensive network that facilitates all point to point journeys within a development, provision of direct routes away from the main road does not eliminate the need to provide segregated facilities alongside main roads.

We must be dreaming…

Key Partnerships

The strategy sets out how it plans to get schools, workplaces, retailers and the council itself to promote cycling among pupils, staff and customers. It gives examples of some of the activities that are planned or already underway, however much of that is waiting on the availability of routes and parking.

One thing we don’t see is planning for major events. Granted, that is also waiting on routes and parking, but we’d like to see them prepared to bring in temporary parking for events at the Principality Stadium; at the bay; or something to the same scale as Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected.

The action plan

Here’s where things get really, really interesting. The primary routes (the green ones on the map) are supposed to be completed by the 2019/20 financial year, with phased construction starting in 2018/19 and the concept & planning stage next year.

Planning for the phased implementation of the wider network (the purple lines) will begin in 2019/20 with construction ongoing from 2021-2026. That being said, there are also what the council calls “missing links” which it plans to plug between 2018 and 2026.

The promotion, or “partnership” side of things will start next year. Speaking of next year…

How you can get involved…

This plan is still a draft and that means it can still change. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Yes, there is the opportunity for it to be watered down by people with dominant amygdalae, but there is also the opportunity to fill in blanks that we see. This requires YOU.

  1. The first thing you need to do is make sure the council has your details so that it can write to you about the consultation.
  2. The next thing you can do is head over to Cardiff Cycle City and make sure you have signed up. Cardiff Cycle City, of which we are a part, are listed as stakeholders in the engagement plan. We hold meetings on the last Thursday of every month, so keep an eye on the Cardiff Cycle City Facebook Page —and ours for that matter. The date and time is always the same, but venues have been changing lately.
  3. Lastly, have a good read of the draft strategy and related documents. Make a note of any questions or concerns you have ready for when the consultation starts.

Thoughts…

We must admit to being cautiously optimistic. No, perhaps optimistic isn’t the word. Excited, perhaps. It’ll pass no doubt, but on the face of it the strategy is saying the right things. It has ticked off a number of items on the wish list and gives us cause for optimism. It even seems to acknowledge that having pedestrians and cyclists sharing the same space was a monumentally bad idea.

The success of much of what the council has planned is somewhat reliant on the rollout of 20mph zones around Cardiff. As we’ve seen with the pilot in Roath & Cathays, rolling them out is one thing but actually getting drivers to adhere to them is another matter. The Council and the police need to cooperate on enforcing the 20mph limit and not simply pass the buck to the other when people routinely drive at 30mph and beyond.

There are council elections next year and a lot can change with a new crop of councillors steering the ship. In an ideal world the new councillors will push ahead at a faster rate with these plans, but it could also conceivably go the other way.

There’s also the question of the Local Development Plan. Not everyone is happy with this plan and it could well change following the council elections. Whilst there is still an argument for the new primary routes to go ahead, the lack of developments to join up may weaken their case somewhat.

We’ll need to watch closely the motivations of the councillors standing for election next year. Until then, we’ll get to work on making sense of the new routes and the changes that are planned to make them happen.

Now for part 2.

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