Change you can feel…

Something feels…different. Since this latest crop of Councillors arrived, things have been happening.

We’ve seen our first stretch of segregated cycle lane on Maes-y-Coed Road; a newly refurbished North Road cycle lane, but perhaps the biggest game-changer so far has been the new Nextbike scheme.

Give someone a fish…

After the Oybike scheme fizzled out, it was understandable that people were cautious about a new bike hire scheme arriving on the streets of Cardiff. There were a few reasons behind Oybike’s failure, but it was arguably a useful learning experience nonetheless.

The Nextbikes are certainly more numerous than the Oybikes they replace, but perhaps the timing was also wrong back then. Now, things feel different. The time feels right. Yes, there is still a need for more places to ride them safely –a primary east-west route would certainly be helpful right now, not to mention a blanket 20mph limit. However, speaking to friends outside the world of cycling; people I run into at Cardiff Cycle City meetings; and in the process of making this site, people are riding Nextbikes where they would never have considered first buying their own bike, let alone ride it anywhere.

We’re seeing Nextbikes turning up everywhere –all four corners of Cardiff. There has been 30,000+ rentals since the Spring; 11,000+ members, which is not a bad start for a city of approximately 300,000. There would no doubt have been more rentals than that were it not for some of the more popular racks being stubbornly empty. The good news there is that Pedal Power is recruiting more van drivers to redistribute the bikes.

Riding with Caro

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This week a group of us took a ride around Grangetown with Caro, the Councillor with responsibility for transport and planning. Starting off at the end of Tudor Street; down Clare Road before briefly heading down Cornwall Street to meet up with Councillor Sattar. We returned to Clare Road before crossing Penarth Road to Paget Street, Bromsgrove Street, Clive Street, Ferry Road & Avondale Road. No, we didn’t sugar-coat this one. Finally, we took a spin down the embankment to see the progress on the Greener Grangetown project.

Greener Grangetown has caused a bit of confusion, to say the least. It’s very different to what we’ve seen before in Cardiff, but at the time of writing there’s still work to do, including double-yellow lines on the Taff side of the street.

If you are wondering how it’ll look, here’s a very similar looking street in Utrecht…The same rumble-strip, the same parking restrictions. (Thanks to Owain for sharing that with us)

Utrecht has developed a reputation for being very cycle friendly, so it is encouraging to see a street just like it here in Cardiff. Of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day and sadly, infrastructure doesn’t just fall from the sky. It takes time and a lot of money. Meanwhile, I really want to visit Utrecht…

There will be a lot of consultations to respond to, a lot of nudging and constructive feedback to provide, but right now there are reasons to be optimistic, not least because our own Geraint Thomas is currently in yellow after winning two stages of the Tour de France on the bounce.

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More people seem to be riding bikes in Cardiff now than when Cardiffbybike.com began. We have two cycle cafes in Plan2Ride and I Want to Ride My Bike; we have 250+ hire bikes; guided rides by our friend Pol; and a number of independent cycle workshops. It feels like we are on the precipice of something great. Maybe I’m dreaming, but I’m in no real hurry to wake up.

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