Safer and more inclusive streets for everyone are vital for the future health and wellbeing of people across Wales. With discussions around the future use of Cardiff’s Castle Street, Sustrans Cymru Senior Policy Officer, Paula Renzel, talks about the importance prioritising people over cars.
A protected cycle lane through the heart of Cardiff
Safer and more inclusive streets for everyone are vital for the future health and wellbeing of people across Wales.
With discussions around the future use of Cardiff’s Castle Street, Sustrans Cymru Senior Policy Officer, Paula Renzel, talks about the importance of prioritising people over cars.
In order to create a fair and resilient Wales, places need to be designed for people, not cars.
Safety and inclusion
Safer and more inclusive streets and places for everyone are vital not just now, but for the future health and wellbeing of people across Wales.
This, we should have learned during the outbreak of the Covid-19, and through the repeated lockdowns that have constrained us to our homes and close neighbourhoods
Over the years transport planning has become increasingly focused on building newer, faster and bigger roads to move greater amounts of people from A to B.
The quality and liveability of the neighbourhoods these roads cross have mostly been ignored, together with the reality that building roads only leads to further congestion.
Traffic jams and polluted air
Before Castle Street was pedestrianised, the experience of drivers was one of traffic jams, whilst the experience of people walking, cycling or wheeling was of noisy traffic, polluted air and dangerous road-crossing.
When most cars disappeared from our roads overnight during the first lockdown, councils such as Cardiff seized the opportunity to rethink their approach to place-making, showing that the health and wellbeing of people can be made a priority.
As our lives get moving again, we are faced with increased car usage that is creeping up to pre-pandemic levels.
The pressure on authorities from drivers to remove schemes is high and with elections on the horizon, it is tempting to give in to the car lobby.
Right now, all eyes are on Castle Street.
This is not only because of its’ prominent location, next to Cardiff Castle, in the centre of Wales’ capital city but also because it sets a precedent for the rest of Wales - one that those passionate about wellbeing and tackling climate change are keen to retain.
Connecting the castle to the city
This is one of the city’s oldest and most iconic locations, and removing vehicles from this location has connected the castle to the city centre and in doing so, created a neighbourhood where people can socialise and enjoy.
Ample bike parking in the city centre
The reports of congestion and air pollution being displaced to nearby residential areas need addressing, and we recognise the work that is needed to change behaviour to improve air quality across the city.
However, we should not shy away from the bold decisions needed to protect the planet for future generations and reallocate space for people in our capital.
Ambitious city-wide projects
Among other things, Cardiff has already shown what is possible by starting to deliver on a bold city-wide cycle network and implementing a bike-share scheme.
This ambition now needs to extend to the protection of the Castle Street scheme with a wider discussion about travel patterns across the city, and how to achieve the change in behaviour that we need to see.
Just in time for Clean Air Day 2021, we urge Cardiff council to protect this space and their position on air quality, mobility and inclusion for the city.
And we ask members to work with us as we support people to ditch the car and make the switch to sustainable travel.
When you plan for cars, you get cars, and when you plan for people, you get people.