Cardiff Cycle City: following the Amsterdam example
“Cardiff is the youngest capital city in Europe, and has the potential to grow up to become the Amsterdam of the UK.”
Gwenda Owen is Chair of the Strategy and Policy Committee at national cycling charity CTC. And she has a vision: amsterdamizing the city.
To help increase the number of bicycles on the streets of the Welsh capital, a new movement Cardiff Cycle City has just been launched. The group is calling for two new cycle superhighways (continuous, largely segregated two-way cycle tracks), 20mph (env. 32 km/h) speed limits across the city and an annual budget of £15 per person per year.
An eight-point manifesto to improve cycling in Caerdydd was drawn up with input from key stakeholders, including Cardiff Cycling Campaign, CTC, Sustrans, Welsh Cycling, Local Transport Projects, cycle tour companies and bike shops. In addition, hundreds of people took part in an online consultation, providing input for the final manifesto.
“Cardiff Cycle City has captured the imagination of a wide variety of people who ride bikes in Cardiff and many who don't yet,” continues Gwenda Owen. “Cycling clubs, businesses and everyday cyclists have come together to say that Cardiff would be an even better city if what the Manifesto asks became a reality.
“We’re asking that politicians work together in the same way and recognise that a cycling city is a vibrant and healthy city. Cycling needs to be understood and integrated into plans across departments rather than being a small and underfunded part of Transport.”
Between 2001 and 2011, the number of people cycling to work in Cardiff has risen by 65%, says the group. It also points out that Cardiff City Council’s cycling map already plots over 500 miles of recommended cycle routes.
Wales is in fact a pioneer in legislating in favour of cycling and walking thanks to 2013’s “Active Travel Act” which requires local authorities to plan fully-integrated active travel networks.
“The Active Travel Act has huge potential to raise the profile of walking and cycling as everyday modes of transport and to change the culture of transport planning,” says Jo Sachs-Eldridge, Senior Transport Planner, Local Transport Projects.
“However it is yet to be seen whether the Act alone can bring about the change that is needed. Dedicated funding to ensure the proper implementation of the networks of routes and the inclusion of behaviour change programmes to encourage people to use the routes would be welcomed. This is why we advocate for a minimum annual spend of £15 per person on cycling infrastructure, education and promotion.”
Current calculations estimate that Wales spends just £3 per head, per year on cycling infrastructure.
This year Cardiff will host the first Velothon Wales, a UCI-endorsed event combining a Pro race and a cyclo-sportive.
“The Velothon in Wales will be a fantastic event, attracting in the region of 15,000 participants,” says Georgina Harper, National Development Manager at Welsh Cycling.
“It is a major event for the city and is already becoming a significant contributor to getting people enthused by cycling in all its guises, and will help make Cardiff a capital for cycling, be that for transport, recreation or sport.”
Mass participation events like Velothon Wales, in their capacity of promotional tools have the potential to approach large segments of prospective cyclists, who may be inspired by the atmosphere, give bikes a try and eventually like it. Promotion however has to go hand in hand with building better bike infrastructure. Software needs hardware – Cardiff Cycle City has understood.