Reacting to the Cardiff Cycle City Manifesto

This week saw the launch of Cardiff Cycling City, “established in January 2014…..a movement, rather than an organisation, bringing different individuals and groups together in one common vision: to make Cardiff the best cycling city in the UK.” . The movement launched its Manifesto yesterday at Roald Dahl Plass, to much fanfare.

 

So how can Cardiff realise the goal of becoming the best cycling city in the UK? Well…Cardiff Cycling City have laid out a manifesto repeated in full, below.

1. CONNECT OUR CYCLE NETWORK EFFECTIVELY AND BUILD TWO CYCLE SUPERHIGHWAYS

A comprehensive cycling system in the Welsh capital is possible, by building on the existing network and making the most of the Welsh Government’s world-first legislation, the Active Travel Act 2013, which aims to improve cycling routes throughout Wales. Cardiff Council has well-laid plans for a cycling network, known as ‘Enfys’[1] and we want to see this built and much, much more. The network should also include two superhighways (similar to the superhighways in London), to facilitate 24hr direct access across the city – from east to west and north to south – and encourage everyday cycling.

2. 20MPH SPEED LIMIT ACROSS THE CITY,
WHERE NEEDED

If we want more families to get on their bikes, our streets need to be safer. Studies show that when we kill our speed to 20mph accidents reduce by 60%, particularly those resulting in serious injury or death. [2] 20mph speed limits in areas where people live and shop will make Cardiff a liveable city – a clean, green and happy city. It also makes good business sense: for every £1 spent in adopting 20mph in neighbouring Bristol, local businesses enjoyed nearly £8 return through increased cycling.[3]

3. A CITY-CENTRE BIKE HUB AND AT LEAST 1,000 NEW BIKE PARKING SPACES ACROSS CARDIFF

We need a city-centre bike hub to raise the profile of cycling and provide secure bike parking to curb theft – a key barrier to regular cycling. Additional hub services, such as bike maintenance and tool hire, will help people make the most of cycling in Cardiff.  An additional 1,000 bike parking spaces will improve access to shops, cafes, libraries, workplaces and other destinations across the city.

4. CYCLE TRAINING FOR ALL, INCLUDING OUR CITY’S DRIVERS AND PLANNERS

Cycle training has a proven track record in helping to keep cyclists safe on our roads. Built upon similar principles to training for motorcycle riders and car drivers, it helps cyclists to assess risks while out on the road. We want free cycle training for school children, to encourage them to cycle safely into adulthood. But we also want cyclist awareness training for street planners and drivers – Cardiff bus drivers, taxi drivers and others – to better understand cyclist behaviour and encourage cyclist-friendly driving.

5. EASY AND AFFORDABLE ACCESS TO BIKE HIRE ACROSS THE CITY

Increasing access to bikes, through private hire or replicating public on-street schemes found in major European cities, has shown to kick-start a cycling culture and transform a transport system. Since 2009, Dublin in Ireland has benefited from a corporate sponsored, world-class public hire scheme, generating 7million journeys and an overall increase in cycling by 40%.[4] Such is the level of its success the scheme is being rolled out to Cork, Galway and Limerick – all with smaller populations than Cardiff.[5] Easy and affordable access to bike hire, which learns from the mistakes of previous initiatives in Cardiff, such as OY bikes, will enrich and expand the Welsh Government’s proposed Metro system.

6. A CYCLING COMMISSIONER TO INSPIRE AND LEAD

We need a publicly appointed Cycling Commissioner, with sufficient status and authority to promote cycling in Cardiff.  The Cycling Commissioner will hold to account the Welsh Government, Cardiff Capital Region, Cardiff Council and other key decision-makers in working towards one common vision of making Cardiff the best cycling city in the UK.

7. A CYCLING TEAM WITHIN CARDIFF COUNCIL

We need leadership and cross-departmental cooperation within Cardiff Council, establishing excellence in Cardiff’s cycling infrastructure, training and promotion. A dedicated and focused resource within the council, similar to the resource already established within Cambridgeshire Council, will pay dividends and deliver real change.[6]

8. A MINIMUM ANNUAL SPEND OF £15 PER
PERSON ON CYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE,
EDUCATION & PROMOTION

The All Party Parliamentary group, in their ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report, recommends the creation of a cycling budget of £10-20 per head, per year.[7] Bristol City Council, with support from additional funding from Westminster Government, has committed to increase spending on cycling to £16 per head.[8] Current calculations estimate that Wales spends just £3 per head, per year on cycling infrastructure.[9]

 

So…..Good? Bad? Indifferent?

In my view. Good. No…….Great, and for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Cardiff Cycle City concept is a coalition of interested parties. This Means a pooling of minds, resources and expertise all approaching a shared problem with a common goal. Secondly, the manifesto articulates quite clearly a vision that will help make Cardiff at the very least, a better cycling city and has the potential to elevate it still further. Finally, the approach is fresh, bold and inventive, not mired in the language of complaint, but framed in the dialogue of creativity.

Is there anything missing? To my mind not really, though I would bolster one area: Educating our kids beyond cycle proficiency skills in tandem with providing opportunities for fun, sport and recreational riding. As a cycle coach and School governor with health, sport and well-being responsibilities, I know just how much kids love the opportunity to have fun riding bikes. It is important to create an environment in which they understand the benefits of all cycling and have full opportunity to ride for fun, as a means of self sufficient transport and as a sporting discipline. Embracing cycle culture leads to many more miles on the bike and if they grow up to also be motorists (quite likely), increased empathy for other cyclists on our roads. Promoting cycling with a strong health/fitness/fun message encourages the full spectrum of engagement and extends the benefits of the bike (Sustrans Big Pedal is a fine example of promoting cycling).

For my part, I’ve signed up, keen to get involved and willing to put my services at their disposal…. Why not join us?

 

Footnotes:

[1]“Introducing Enfys – Cardiff’s Cycle Network”, Cardiff County Council http://www.keepingcardiffmoving.co.uk/cycle/enfys-cardiff-cycle-network/ [2] “Inappropriate Speed”, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, January 2011http://www.rospa.com/roadsafety/adviceandinformation/driving/speed/inappropriate-speed.aspx [3] “Kids want to get active: thousands march for safer streets”, Brake, 11 June 2014  http://www.brake.org.uk/news/1230-gwb2014 [4] “Coca-Cola to sponsor Dublin bikes scheme”, The Irish Times, 18 June 2014 http://www.irishtimes.com/business/sectors/media-and-marketing/coca-cola-to-sponsor-dublin-bikes-scheme-1.1836904 [5] Ibid [6] “Cycling team enlarged”, Cambridge Cycling Campaign, October/November 2012http://www.camcycle.org.uk/newsletters/104/article3.html [7] ‘Get Britain Cycling’, All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, April 2013http://allpartycycling.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/get-britain-cycling1.pdf [8] Bristol plans £35 million spend on cycleway network, July 2014 http://road.cc/content/news/123034-bristol-plans-%C2%A335-million-spend-cycleway-network [9] “Call for a cycling revolution on Wales’ roads”, Graham Henry, Wales Online, 30 December 2013 http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/news-opinion/call-cycling-revolution-wales-roads-6451818

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