Tuesday 21 February 2017 07.00 GMT
If Cardiff and Cambridge were in a race to become the UK’s top cycling city, the latter would, predictably, be in the lead as Cardiff’s red dragon puffs along behind – realising, deep down, that it’s got some training to do.
You could argue that Cambridge, with decades of cycle-centric planning and investment, is the clear national champion, whereas Cardiff is more of your regional champ with promise.
That said, the Welsh capital has big dreams. It hopes to double cycling in the next 10 years, from its current 9.2% of all commutes (not bad for the UK, though it pales in comparison to Cambridge’s 30%). The more immediate goal is to reduce trips made by private car to 50% by 2026, the other 50% by public transport, walking and cycling. Currently 56.1% of Cardiff commutes are by private car, while 16.5% are by foot.
Cardiff’s ultimate goal is to become Europe’s most “liveable” capital city, and its new cycling strategy sets out how it will achieve this.
As Chris Weaver, councillor and assistant to the cabinet for active travel in Cardiff, explains, getting more people on bikes and tackling congestion and air pollution is crucial to achieving that goal. And as Cardiff’s new draft cycling strategy says, a city that’s good for cycling is an attractive city in which to live – and invest.
“The key thing is about improving life here in Cardiff,” he says. “We want it to be possible for people to be able to cycle safely. So many journeys are achievable by bike, by so many people. And it’s a cheap, environmentally friendly and fun way to travel.”
Like Cambridge, Cardiff is flat and fairly compact – 52% of journeys in the capital are less than 5km, which would take an estimated 20 minutes or less by bike.