We welcome this further opportunity to provide our recommendations regarding the improvements to the Taff Trail Cycleway in Hailey Park.
Anyone wishing to provide feedback on the proposals are asked to send this via the following email: email@example.com by 11 August 2023.
It is acknowledged that this section of the Taff Trail still has many significant issues which need to be addressed:
- The volume of cyclists, pedestrians and dog walkers has increased since the COVID19 pandemic but the capacity of the paths in the park has not changed
- The path through the park, and the riverside leg south-west beyond it to the west of Glantaf school, is narrow in many places and does not conform to Active Travel guidelines
- These factors frequently give rise to conflict between cyclists and other park users, particularly in mornings and evenings when there are many commuter cyclists
- The trail is also used by faster cyclists on road and mountain bikes who often travel at inappropriately high speeds without consideration for the conditions or the safety of other park users
- Where the path is close to the river, the surface is collapsing due to frequent flooding and will eventually prove impossible to maintain
- The riverside leg south-west beyond Hailey Park (to the west of Glantaf school) has already flooded in recent years. Global warming will no doubt see an increase in the frequency of dangerous submersion of this leg.
- The underpass under Llandaf Bridge can be hazardous where the pedestrian steps descend onto the path, with no visibility
- The bends in the path by Llandaf Weir are also hazardous as the sightlines are poor
- Some sections are also compromised by root damage from trees, which makes them uncomfortable or hazardous to ride
- The park is home to extensive natural habitats for wildlife, plants and other species, as well as a large number of protected trees and a section of woodland – the protection of these vital elements of the park needs to be taken into account in any improvements to infrastructure in the park.
There have been several changes to the proposal since 2020:
- The path has been realigned adjacent to Mary Street to maintain residential and visitors parking on the south side of Mary Street. An additional pedestrian connection to the footpath on Mary Street will provide improved connectivity for pedestrians accessing the park from Mary Street.
- ‘Share With Care’ floor markings will be used throughout the scheme to inform all users that they are using a shared space within a parks environment.
- The width of the path has been reduced from 5m to 4m which will reduce the amount of space required to facilitate the new sections of footpath and the area of new hard surfacing within the park.
The upgrade plan consists of two phases:
- Widening of the existing path running west to east along the route of the river, but with a diversion to avoid the protected Wax Cap Grassland to the west of the Tennis courts. The diverted section runs parallel with Mary Street and then turns south to rejoin the existing path near to the Llandaf Bridge underpass.
- Construction of a new cycleway from the Ty Mawr Road gate, running south below the area of woodland next to the Radyr Road car park, linking up with the existing Taff Trail path at the bottom of the park next to the river.
We are grateful to the council’s Transport Officers for facilitating a site visit to discuss the scheme on 1st August 2023. C=CC is not willing to support the scheme in its current form as it does not go far enough to address the issues listed above. There are many aspects of the scheme which we believe will exacerbate the issues rather than addressing them.
Key Areas of Concern
We would like to highlight the following areas of the proposal which are of particular concern:
New cycleway next to woodland
The proposed new cycleway from Ty Mawr Road cuts across a large green space which is frequently used by pedestrians, dog walkers, children playing (and travelling to/from the play area) and users of the rugby pitches to the west of the park. This proposed route risks introducing more conflict between cyclists and other park users. It also removes more green space from the park – this is not a concession which should ever be made for the sake of Active Travel.
Shared-use paths are not good Active Travel infrastructure and should never be the choice in a multi-user environment like Hailey Park where high volumes of active travel traffic are encountered. There should be separate, dedicated routes so that the potential for pedestrian and cyclist conflict is minimised. (Shared paths however can have an important role for lower-speed cycling, including children and cyclists with a disability, and need to be designed for this.)
The provision of an alternative cycle route will provide an opportunity for cyclists to use a more direct and safe route, which will reduce conflicting movements between pedestrians and cyclists (especially on weekends) and potentially lead to a mode shift in the area. The existing path along the river is currently shared between pedestrians and cyclists, however this path is less than the required minimum width for shared pedestrian/cycle routes of 3 metres.
This route is considered very important in the local community and is well favoured by existing residents. Therefore, ensuring that space for pedestrians, dog walkers, children learning to cycle and those with disabilities is well-maintained, would bring further benefit in the area by providing a more inclusive environment.
It is our consideration that widening the existing route (where feasible) and providing appropriate signage e.g. ‘slow’ road markings, as well as providing the alternative route for cyclists (as per our suggestion) would significantly improve the environment for pedestrians, cyclists and those with disabilities.
Diversion north of Tennis courts
We understand the reasons for the diversion (protected fungi habitat), but we note that the residents of Mary Street objected to the original proposal which placed the cycleway immediately adjacent to Mary Street. We understand the residents objected because the cycleway would take away car parking space from the street. The new proposal involves laying more tarmac across green space in the park. There are several large trees overhanging the proposed route which will need to be cut back and maintained on an ongoing basis to ensure the route is accessible and safe. This route does not appear to be provided along the key desire line for many commuting and/or leisure cyclists and we fear that poor location of the route will result in the route not being used to its full potential.
The Alternative Approach
We would like to remind the council that in 2020, Cardiff Cycle City proposed an alternative route which solves all of the problems listed above and we urge the council to look at our proposal again.
Our proposal is supported by several local groups representing a wide cross-section of people who use Hailey Park for all kinds of activities including leisure, sports, commuting and travelling to and from school via bicycle and on foot.
This route starts at the Ty Mawr Road gate, and runs along the old canal bed, crossing the entrance to the Radyr Road car park. It then continues along the canal bed, on the edge of the park, emerging at Station Road next to the Lidl car park. The route is shown in blue below:
We consider this route to be much more direct than that proposed currently, avoiding sharp bends in the route as currently proposed. In addition, we encourage maintaining cycle priority where the cycle route would approach residential side roads e.g. providing a table crossing at the junction with Radyr Road with priority for cyclists.
At the point where the route joins Station Road, there is an opportunity to construct a mini “Dutch” roundabout or install new traffic controls, with priority and protection for pedestrians and cyclists.
The protected cycle route then continues along Gabalfa Road, rejoining the Taff Trail on the corner of Gabalfa Road and River View. We recommend providing appropriate signage for cyclists to use Gabalfa Road and consider introducing parking restrictions (e.g. parking bays for residents only) and double yellow lines to minimise visitor parking during the day. There is a lot of potential for this route to become a much more pleasant space (especially given that it is outside a school) with provision of parking restrictions, landscaping and traffic calming similar to those which have been successfully implemented on Taff Embankment in Grangetown. This would further minimise the conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.
The benefits of this route are that it:
- Provides a direct route between Ty Mawr Road and the city centre
- Effectively separates cyclists from pedestrians and other park users
- Reduces conflict by separating commuter and sporting cyclists from the leisure route through the park
- Minimises damage to the natural habitats and green spaces in the park
- Creates a safe cycling route directly to Glantaf school (and Lidl supermarket and Greggs bakery which are both heavily used by pupils) from North and South
- Improves pedestrian access to Glantaf school
- Creates a sustainable route unaffected by flooding or undermining by the river
- Avoids hazards caused by poor sightlines and narrowings at Llandaf Bridge and Llandaf Weir
- Provides a well-lit route which is more overlooked, making it safer for use at night
- Makes yet more Active Travel infrastructure more visible to vehicle drivers, encouraging more ‘Modal Shift’
- Fully adheres to Active Travel guidelines.
Converting Gabalfa Road into a School Street also gives the council the opportunity to implement an exemplary Active Travel scheme which will benefit all users of the road, including school pupils, local residents and active travellers. We are aware that Gabalfa Road residents are already supportive of parking restrictions to prevent problem parking on the south side of the street.
We would like to draw the council’s attention to an excellent School Street implementation in the London Borough of Lambeth. We believe Gabalfa Road (and many other streets adjacent to schools in Cardiff) would benefit enormously from a similar scheme.