Cardiff cycling: State of the nation

We feel some way off achieving our Cardiff Cycle City vision of our capital city being the best cycling city in the UK. But is cycling here all doom and gloom, or is there cause for optimism? Here we take a quick look at the present and future positives and negatives of cycling in and around Cardiff.

On the positive side, Welsh legislation in this respect is World-leading. The Active Travel Act, Well-being of Future Generations Act, plus Planning Policy Wales, all provide a sound foundation to drive positive change. It’s frequently eyed jealously from other countries.

There’s political will, including Welsh Government and Cardiff Council’s declared Climate Emergency, the Roads Review, the Llwybr Newydd (“new path”) Transport Strategy, and Cardiff Council’s Transport White Paper.

Transport for Wales are starting to drive change and assume greater ownership for Active Travel.

Dedicated Active Travel funding from Welsh Government has enjoyed a significant boost over recent years (£70 million in 2021/22, compared to circa £5 million in 2016).

There’s Improving infrastructure in Cardiff (with ‘Cycleways’, pop-ups, and planned ‘ATNM’).

Dual hire bike schemes across the city courtesy of OVO and Brompton provide both traditional unassisted and electric bike options.

The trialled 20 mph urban default speed limit became the legal Wales-wide default in September 2023, aimed partly at making our streets safer and more welcoming for walking and cycling.

Cardiff Council’s School Streets project rollout has grown pleasingly from an initial modest pilot.

There’s some promise in low traffic neighbourhoods (e.g. Taff Embankment changes) and changing travel patterns (e.g. greater homeworking).

We know from surveys like the Sustrans Walking and Cycling Index that there’s significant public support for improved cycling facilities in Cardiff, with the promise of greater uptake as safe routes proliferate.

We have some fantastic active travel and cycling-related charities in Cardiff; just check out our A-Z for details of Pedal Power, Sustrans and Living Streets.

Lots of positives then. However, on the down side, we do still have a predominance of car culture in and around our capital city. We all see a vocal minority creating negative social media “noise” around cycling and cycling infrastructure. Maybe aligned to this, there is sometimes some political nervousness around change. And, of course, local and national elections can always change the outlook for active travel and cycling.

Lastly, time: Positive change is happening in and around Cardiff. However, for many, Cardiff Cycle City included, it’s too slow. So why not join us in pushing forwards our vision of making Cardiff the best cycling city in the UK?

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