As a (mostly!) flat and relatively compact city, Cardiff is perfect for those looking to incorporate cycling into their daily routine, whether for leisure, fitness or commuting.
The Taff Trail runs through the centre of the city and for those of us lucky enough to live and work close by, it provides an easy way of getting to and from the city centre avoiding the busy roads, and with the added bonus of beautiful scenery and wildlife (in the summer months at least!). Cardiff Bay also boasts a 4.5 mile cycle route which is largely away from busy roads and is popular with families, especially on a summers day.
According to the ‘Walking and cycling in Wales: Active travel, 2018-19” statistics 6% of adults in Wales cycled at least once a week for active travel purposes. Men, younger people, those without limiting illnesses and those with qualifications, were more likely than others to cycle. What cannot be overlooked, however, is that 225 seriously injured cyclists were admitted to hospital in 2018/19.
Whilst the benefits of cycling, in terms of physical health, mental health and of course the environment are well documented, there are many concerns regarding the safety of cycling in the city, particularly for those travelling at busy times and who may not be able to easily access car free tracks such as the Taff trail.
Unfortunately, across Cardiff there are many examples of cycle paths that do not appear to have been well thought through, or in many cases seem to be ignored and not maintained. The cycle lane on Cathedral Road in Pontcanna, for example, is mostly a very narrow strip of road between the traffic and parked cars. Cycling in this position on the road increases the risk of ‘Dooring’ where a cyclist is injured by a driver or a passenger opening a car door directly into their path. In other places, cycle lanes are not consistent and can be confusing and difficult to follow.
Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon. The “Cardiff’s Transport White Paper: Transport Vision to 2030 Changing how we move around a growing city” document sets out the plans for the future for all forms of sustainable transport between 2018 and 2030 and includes the aim of doubling the numbers of people cycling during this time. One of the key ways it intends to do this is to “Build the highest quality, safe and fully segregated cycle network across the city by 2026.”
Details can be found on the Cardiff Council website as to the proposals that are currently being developed for five cycleways which, it is intended, will connect communities to major destinations across the city including the City Centre and Cardiff Bay. One of these cycleways, running along Cathays Terrace, Whitchurch Road, Allensbank Road and King George V Drive East ending at University Hospital of Wales, is in the process of being built and is expected to be finished in May 2022.
As an Associate Solicitor in the Court of Protection Team at Hugh James I am sadly very aware of the life changing effects that cycling accidents can have on individuals and their families which are profound and devastating. We currently manage the property and financial affairs of over 140 people who lack the required mental capacity because of brain injuries, some of which have arisen from road traffic accidents involving cyclists. Whilst these clients have received significant damages awards because of their injuries, which allows us, in our role as their deputy, to ensure they have the best accommodation, care and therapeutic input possible; this will of course never undo the substantial damage that has been caused to their lives, and the lives of their loved ones.
I am a keen cyclist and enjoy riding my bike to work, as well as for fitness and as a family activity. I am very fortunate to have easy access to the Taff Trail, particularly when cycling with young children, but I am very much looking forward to being able to access more of the city in an easier and safer way in the years to come.
The road safety charity, Brake are marking Road Safety Week on 15th to 21st November to shine a light on the huge variety of road safety champions in our communities, to include road safety campaigners and road safety professionals who will no doubt have been involved in schemes such as the cycleway scheme in Cardiff across the country and making cycling safer for all of us.