A couple of weeks ago the Council announced a consultation on a new section of cycleway stating that:
The improvements within Roath Recreation Ground and Ninian Road will provide opportunity to connect to other cycle routes in the future, whilst providing key benefits such as to promoting sustainable and active travel to schools, employment, connections to public transport, sports and leisure activities in the playing field and local facilities.
Due to the location of this section of the route we at Cardiff Cycle City thought it best to ask local residents for their thoughts on the plans. With this in mind we approached the local Living Streets group, who very kindly offered to write this blog post outlining their opinions.
The consultation pack can be found HERE, and you have until 30 March to submit your response.
As always, let us know what you think by using the ‘comments’ box below
Cardiff Council have launched a public consultation on improvements to Roath Park’s recreation ground and some of the neighbouring roadways. The plans include the next leg of Roath’s segregated “Red Route” cycleway, which is eventually planned to run from Newport Road to the very northern end of Lake Road West. The only existing section of the route to date is the short stretch on Wellfield Road, so many of us have been waiting with bated breath for details of what comes next. Has it been worth the wait?
It’s clear from the consultation pack, which can be found HERE, that the improvements are aimed squarely at pedestrians and cyclists, whilst doing everything possible to leave the existing carriageway and parking spaces unaffected. The most significant proposals are:
A segregated two-way cycleway, extending from the junction with Wellfield Road, and running along the southern edge of the recreation ground, just inside the line of trees where the current footpath is situated. The cycleway will end at the junction with Alder Road, where it joins the carriageway. Low level lighting for the cycleway will “be considered”.
- Widened footpaths around the recreation ground (running parallel to the new cycleway along the park’s southern edge).
- The closure of Alder Road at its junction with Ninian Road, with a continuous footway added across its junction with Ty Draw Road, giving priority to pedestrians.
Upgrades to the two zebra crossings on Ninian Road. The crossing near the junction with Pen Y Wain Place will be tabled, while the other will be moved to connect with the newly closed junction of Alder Road. Both crossings will receive parallel cycle crossings.
- Changes to the very busy junction between Ninian, Pen Y Lan and Wellfield Roads have not yet been finalised, but an early design example is given, suggesting diagonal crossings and widened pavements are planned.
There’s a lot to like in these proposals, which go a long way towards resolving some long-standing problems. However, the reluctance to make more use of existing road space undermine some of the council’s key active travel ambitions. To start with the positives:
- The Roath Living Street Group has been campaigning for better crossings on Ninian Road for some time now, so it’s gratifying to see these plans brought forward. Families attending Roath Park Primary School and Ninian Nursery often use the crossing near Pen Y Wain Place, but speeding traffic is endemic, and some drivers don’t slow down or stop at all. Tabling this crossing will force drivers to slow and greatly increase pedestrian safety. The consultation makes no mention of overhead LED lighting, but one would hope these would be included as standard.
- The relocation of the second crossing, meanwhile, creates a direct link for cyclists between the new cycleway and the traffic filter on Kelvin Road, giving access to the residential streets beyond. Connecting the cycle network to the streets on which people live is vital if Cardiff is ever to see a serious increase in cycling numbers, so this is another good move.
The closure of Alder Road to through traffic is a pleasant surprise, and will make it much easier for pedestrians to cross from the recreation ground to the adjacent pleasure gardens. I’d prefer to see the road removed altogether, and either fully pedestrianised or turned into extended green space, but the council no doubt want to keep its parking spaces, and I’m not going to moan too much about what is an obvious improvement.
- The preservation of parking spaces is certainly the justification for routing the new cycleway through the recreation ground, and this is where the project creates potential problems. The most direct route for the cycleway would be along Ninian Road, but that would require the removal of around 20 parking spaces. The council have opted to take away green space instead, which is obviously less than ideal. More problematic still, is the potential conflict between cyclists and pedestrians this creates.
- While the cycleway will be segregated for the length of its route through the park, people will have no choice but to cross it on foot to access the playing fields from Ninian Road. This is bound to put them in the path of cyclists, especially during the summer months when the recreation ground is extremely busy, and the hazard will be particularly acute for disabled pedestrians and those with visual impairments. The route also creates a second point of conflict in the busy pedestrian area in front of the Pen Y Lan Community Centre, as the cycleway is forced to cross it.
- A further issue is that of safety after dark, especially for lone female cyclists. Although the cycleway wouldn’t be very far from Ninian Road, it would be beneath tree cover, which blocks the light from nearby streetlights. The council say they will “consider” installing low level lighting along the route, but if the cycleway does end up here, then such lighting would be absolutely essential. If women and girls don’t feel safe cycling after dark, they simply won’t do it.
All these problems could be avoided if the cycleway were just given its fair share of road space, instead of green space. (Interestingly, the council provides a specific option in the consultation survey, for those who support a cycleway but would prefer to see it in the road.)
It feels churlish to complain about proposals that are objectively far better than the status quo and, overall, these plans are to be applauded. However, the prioritisation of car parking over active travel only serves to undermine the latter, at a time when the council should be doing everything in its power to encourage more public take-up. As far as the cycleway goes, it’s a case of “Good, but could easily be better.”
Peter Bell is a committee member and co-ordinator of the Roath Living Streets Group. Find out more
about the group here: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/get-involved/local-groups/roath-cardiff