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Cardiff's active travel plan to aid recovery post pandemic

Planning for active and 'distanced' travel in Cardiff city centre (Arup)

The Leader of Cardiff City Council, Cllr Huw Thomas has been talking to Future Cities Forum about the challenge of opening up Cardiff for jobs, retail and tourism post Covid-19 and developing the public realm in the city to create healthier lifestyles.

Huw said it is all a matter of creating confidence in those who will return to work in the city and those who want to visit:

'Cardiff has 45,000 jobs across the hospitality, restaurants and tourism industry within the city centre and we are very keen to bring these back online. It's about projecting confidence that the city is open and safe to visit. By putting in place visible safety measures people will feel that it is safe to visit and shop again.

'We have had lots of conversations with major employers and these businesses looking at a phased return to work. This will have an impact on the numbers of customers for the shops and services that support their work forces but it is balanced by not putting too much strain on city transport operators. Our worst case scenario is that everyone uses the car which is simply not feasible. That is why we are investing in green infrastructure measures so that those people who can walk or cycle are given the confidence to do so, while keeping cars at the periphery of the city centre.

'The 5 mile rule (which has been in place in Wales during the C-Virus lock down) will, we expect, be relaxed in two weeks time. This is really important for Cardiff as we have a quarter of million people who work in the city and many of these travel to work from outside and are customers for the city's retailers and restaurants. We are a huge visit...sixth more popular retail destination in the UK. When the rule are relaxed it is important that people feel they can visit all of the city.'

Integrated City Planning Director at Arup, Sophie Camburn, who also joined our discussion, commented:

'In answer to the question in the City Council's brief - Can you make this a welcoming and open city for visitors and residents? - we felt that the White Paper in 2019 set the agenda to tackle congestion and to change commuting patterns from 80% car use for journeys to moving to much more active travel. One really good thing to come out of Covid-19 - is the ability to test different approaches to travel in a tactical way.

'The real challenge in our project for Cardiff was to develop a very clear articulation of north south east west cycling across the city and to create a welcome gateway network of safe hubs from where people could progress on foot through the city centre. This led to considering more pop-up facilities for commuters. We went at it by taking the city's 16th century walls and instead of viewing them as 'defensive', thought about using them to access green spaces and then linking through to a hierarchy of streets. There is a whole host of things to be worked on and so far we have done ten streets which will act as a catalyst for a much more active travel plan.'

Watch out for Future Cities Forum's master planning and tourism and cultural infrastructure reports which will provide the latest insights into these topics and which are due to be published shortly.

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