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Cardiff council to close roads in Car-Free Day to encourage cycling

Cardiff Council is advocating more cycling with a "car free day"

Cardiff Council is advocating more cycling with a “car free day”

THE roads near Cardiff Castle may be closed as part of a Car-Free Day in September.

The council agreed the event in October and is now discussing details which should be announced next month.

The plan is to close the roads near Cardiff Castle towards Kings Way to encourage more people to ride their bikes.

Canton councillor, Richard Cook, said: “In the Local Development Plan the council are committed to building 41,000 new homes in Cardiff and if those people want to get to work we need to do something about the traffic on the roads.

“Paris is an example of how this has been a success, shops even boomed as a result of closing the streets and allowing bikes to take over the roads. People need to understand that we will be conducting a trial run in September this year, so we can work out what the problems are and make sure the ones that follow improve.”

He said city transport officers were not working hard enough to make sure these plans are implemented.

“Our one problem is that there is not enough commitment behind these plans. Take the South Wales Metro as one example, we have been trying to push for this for two or three years and the city transport officers are not committed to do things, or take action.

“There is not enough being spent on cycling and some people even think cycling is dangerous but for some reason the transport officers are afraid to actually reassess road space to create things like wider pavements.”

Councillor Ramesh Patel, Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and Sustainability, said:  “The council is committed to improving public transport infrastructure so we can achieve our aim to create a 50/50 modal split between those travelling by car and those travelling by alternative forms of transport.

“Public transport has to be attractive and a viable alternative and we will continue to work with the public transport operators to deliver the infrastructure to aid this process.”

Coun Cook noted people manage to move around the city when the roads are blocked off due to the rugby or marathons.

“Different stalls would be set up for people to buy food and other essentials on during this event. People will also be able to rent bikes for the day. Hopefully this will bring money into the city and lessen air pollution.”

The council is also pushing for 50% of cars to be replaced by walkers and cyclists in the next 10 years.

The modal plan was created back in 2013 but the council announced more plans surrounding the Local Development Plan this month. The idea is to reduce the number of drivers to 33% and passengers to 17% with sustainable modes of transport increasing to 50%.

Riverside’s Councillor, Caro Wild, said: “The council is committed to produce a cycling strategy by the end of next year by looking at other cities as a benchmark to achieve our 2026 goals. This is the goal of the Labour Cabinet and we believe we have to move towards more sustainable transport. As the population increases we need to move towards this model split.

“I am interested in cycling myself and we have already implemented 20-mile zones in the Cathays area but we want to extend it to other regions too. Cycle City Cardiff has a lot of good ideas to encourage cycling and we are cooperating to trying to make sure that we get end results. “

Natasha Withey, Sustrans Cymru Communications Officer, said: “We do support the move to 50% sustainable transport and the prioritisation of cycling and walking within that. With regard to cycling, we have been working with the Welsh Government for our new Bike Life scheme.”

Cardiff City Cycle sportsperson said: “Due to the small size and relative flatness Cardiff has the potential to be one of the best cycling cities in the UK.

“However, with a current cycling modal share of just 3.7%, it will take courage, dedication and a commitment to funding from the council, to ensure that cycling is made a genuine alternative to driving in the city.”

Arun Gopal, 23, Student, from Cathays, said: “Someone had to step up with all these climate change talks going on and after hearing about this initiative by Cardiff’s council I was happy. I think I speak for everyone in Cardiff when I say I’m excited.”

Rachael Boswell, 21, works for Keima in Cathays and travels every day from Merthyr Tydfil. She said: “I think it’s a really good idea. It’s just so congested it is a nightmare in a car let alone a bike.

“I don’t think it’s safe for cars during rush hour. I think public transport needs to be improved before they have car-free days though, I can’t get on the train some days because it is so full so that would also get worse.”

Hery Rakotonandrasana, a MSc student, of Wyeverne Road, said: “Cardiff is a perfect place to ride a bike because it is a medium city, not too big and the traffic is better than in a big one, like London.

“The roads are relatively safe and the air is cleaner. If there are more bikes, the air would be even cleaner. Something I would suggest is, for internationals like me, from Madagascar, riding a bike with UK traffic laws is not obvious so I think there should be more action done.

“I would suggest some sort of sensitive training to avoid accidents and to encourage a big number of international students to ride a bike on Cardiff’s roads.”

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