Cardiff Council are currently consulting on proposed options for the continuation of Cycleway 4, which will connect Western Avenue with Llandaff village. The first section of this cycleway was completed earlier this year, connecting Castle St with Western Avenue via Sofia Gardens and Pontcanna Fields.
According to the council’s website the ambition for this cycleway is:
Cycleway 4 will provide a key active travel connection for employment sites, residential zones, education centres and visitor destinations in the central and north west of the city. The route will connect the City Centre, Bute Park, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Llandaff Cathedral & Village, several schools and eventually the new housing developments in the north west of Cardiff.
Cycleway 4.2 Consultation
The council have created a consultation pack containing five options for alignment on Cycleway 4.2. It includes diagrams of the options and information on how to respond.
The summary of each option can be found below – click for a larger version
As you can see, the options are basically a variation of two routes: either following the river up to the rowing club on a newly created path, or diverting directly through Llandaff Village on the existing roads.
Crucial to a successful route
There are a few important criteria that should be met in order for this route to be successful:
- it must be safe to use. This includes perceived safety issues caused by lack of lighting, sight-lines, etc.
- it must be useable for people of all abilities; age, fitness levels, types of cycle, etc.
- it must avoid unnecessary conflict between modes; cycles, pedestrians, motors, etc.
- it must directly link desirable destinations, and avoid lengthy unnecessary diversions, deviations, or regular requirements to stop & start.
Unfortunately there is no detail in the consultation pack regarding the design or quality of the proposed routes. We would recommend that any new, off-road path will need to be of the highest quality in order to be widely adopted by both cyclists and pedestrians.
The design of the path will be crucial to meeting the first three criteria in the above list, particularly the lighting and separation of different types of user.
Examining the options
As mentioned above, there are two main sections: the riverside/Western Avenue route, and the Llandaff Village option.
Western Avenue is one of the busiest roads in Cardiff. Any interaction with this road should ideally be kept to a minimum, so a direct crossing from the Riding School exit would be preferable.
Option C wouldn’t do this, as it runs the cycleway alongside the road for some distance, until crossing by the rugby club before heading up towards Llandaff Cathedral.
It’s difficult to make out, but there are two parallel riverside routes. The one closest to the river is actually along the top of an old flood defence known as a bund or levee.
This is currently an unspoilt route popular with walkers and joggers, who enjoy the quiet environment in its current natural state. A cycleway as pictured above would definitely urbanise this area, but may enable a greater number of people to enjoy the river. Only option B uses the entire levee route.
That leaves the second riverside option – the route through Cardiff Metropolitan University campus as proposed by options A, D & E.
The start of this route seems to be between the University buildings and the banks of the levee, and will run parallel until the boundary of Llandaff Meadow. Looking at Google Earth there seems to be plenty of room for a high-quality cycleway as pictured above.
Although not as picturesque as the levee route, if done properly the path through Cardiff Met is a decent compromise, and is much more preferable to riding alongside Western Avenue.
Now let’s talk about Llandaff. The village would be a popular destination for visitors, as would the Cathedral and schools in the vicinity.
Plenty of Llandaff residents would also want to use Cycleway 4 to reach the city centre, so it’s important that the cycleway is built with this in mind. However, not all users will want to stop at Llandaff and there are problems in running the route directly through the village, as proposed by options A and C.
For a start, the route up past the cathedral is very steep, and would be difficult for a range of people to manage without dismounting.
Once at the top of the slope the route would proceed through the Cathedral Green, which whilst very picturesque, is very narrow and filled with parked cars. There will inevitably also be people who would consider the cycleway to be an unwelcome intrusion on the area.
The cycleway would then proceed from Cathedral Green down Bridge St. This is currently a two-way road with cars parked down each side, leaving room for only one vehicle in the middle.
The only way of fitting a suitable cycleway here would be to remove parking from one side of the street, which would no doubt be hotly contested by local residents.
Another thing to consider is that by choosing this route it creates the temptation to dilute the quality. Instead of building a high-quality, segregated, bidirectional cycleway, with all the battles it entails, the council may instead opt for simply putting up signs and painting the road.
By ruling out those routes that use the levee, and those running through the centre of Llandaff, by a process of elimination we are left with only one choice: Option E.
It’s not perfect, but Option E does have the benefit that, although it doesn’t come through the centre of Llandaff, it does comes close enough for people to easily access the village, and those just passing though don’t have to climb the steep hill for no reason.
The route comes away from the river across Llandaff Meadows towards Llandaff, but at the cathedral turns back towards the rowing club.
These sections will need lighting but there is enough space for a proper footway and separate cycleway, as in the CGI image above.
The video below shows the entire route (the footage was taken using a rear-facing camera and has been reversed)
There is no doubt that this consultation will divide opinion and there isn’t an obvious choice that will please everybody. However, we have attempted to demonstrate some of the pros and cons of each option, and the impact of changes that will be made to an area of the city that hasn’t really seen any significant building development in recent times.
Ideally, any active travel infrastructure should take space away from private motor traffic, however, this isn’t an option here. The best we can do is to make minimal negative impact on the environment without compromising on a high-quality, popular route that will benefit both the people using it and the areas though which they travel.
The consultation pack can be viewed HERE
You can respond to the consultation HERE