Cycling in Cardiff

Cycling in Cardiff
A directional sign for cyclists in Llanishen

Cycling in Cardiff, capital of Wales, is facilitated by its easy gradients and large parks.[1] In 2005, 4.3% of people commuted to work by cycling, compared to 2% in London and 5% in Berlin.[citation needed] However, cyclists in the city appear to be influenced by deterrents to cycling and as a result will need a greater level of improved facilities to increase cycling numbers, according to research by Cardiff University.[2]

As the busiest city, Cardiff is statistically the most dangerous place to cycle in Wales. Between 1999 and 2008, 1,000 cyclists were injured on the road, 20% of all cycling accidents in Wales, although the number of injuries to cyclists continues to fall.[3]

The Cardiff cycle network is over 94 km (58 mi) long with 5-10 additional kilometres (3-6 miles) completed each year.[4]


Council policy

According to their Cycling Strategy (see below), Cardiff County Council aims to encourage citizens to cycle more, citing the improved health through increased fitness, reduced pollution and congestion of the local environment, economic gains through cycle tourism and leisure, independence for those people who cannot or do not wish to use a car, and the fact that cycling can be the quickest and most convenient form of transport in urban areas such as Cardiff.[5] In 2002 they appointed a full-time Cycling Officer.[6]

The council's Transport, Infrastructure and Waste service aims to ensure that an increase in cycling is matched with a reduction in the number of collisions involving cyclists.

Cardiff Council also provides off-road cycle training for school pupils to develop basic cycling skills based upon the National Cycling Proficiency Scheme. Training covers the Highway Code, negotiating obstacles, turning left and right, emergency stops and basic cycle maintenance.[7] More than 1,500 children participate in this course every year in Cardiff, according to the council's Cycling Strategy.

The council produces a free map of the city, available from its offices or from cycle shops, highlighting cycle paths, lanes and suggested cycle routes.


The council's Cycling Strategy was adopted in 1998. The 2007 update showed that 2.7% of people living in Cardiff cycled to work in 2001, an increase from 2.6% in 1991. However, an Omnibus survey showed that in 2003 and 2005, 3.6% and 4.3% of people cycled to work respectively. Although, the number of children cycling to school fell from 5% to 2% since 1989-91. In the strategy, the council intends to:[8]

  • encourage and promote cycling
  • provide safe facilities such as wider cycle lanes and advanced stop lines at traffic signals
  • conduct a trial scheme to assess the viability of allowing cycling through pedestrian areas in the city centre
  • improve cycle links between residential and commercial areas
  • facilitate integration with other modes of transport
  • improve and maintain the cycle network
  • develop and clearly sign routes

Sustrans Cymru

Sustrans is a UK sustainable transport charity that constructs safe cycle routes and other inititiatives to encourage people to walk or cycle. Their Valleys Cycle Network project aims to add 100 miles of vehicle-free routes in the Valleys of South Wales.[9]

In September 2011 it was announced that Sustrans Cymru were launching a new project in Cardiff funded by the Wales Government. This involved offering expert consultation to Cardiff householders to draw up personal travel plans, designed to reduce car journneys and encourage, amongst other things, increased use of bicycles.[10]

Cycle facilities

Example from Excalibur Drive of the red cycle lanes used in Cardiff.

Cycle Shops

The Cardiff Council cycle map lists 12 cycle shops (down from 14 in 2009) in the city: in Canton, Cathays (Crwys Road), Cathays (Woodville Road), Gabalfa, Grangetown, Llandaff North, Llanrumney, Pontcanna, Rhiwbina, Roath (Broadway), Roath (Newport Road) and Whitchurch.[11]

Cycle lanes

As cycling on the pavement is illegal,[12] cyclists must generally cycle on the road. Some roads in the city provide distinct cycle lanes to the left of the vehicle lane. According to the Cardiff Cycle Map, these include:

West Cardiff
North Cardiff
Sign denoting a path only to be used by cyclists
South Cardiff
East Cardiff
  • Llanrumney Avenue: a main suburban road running through Llanrumney

Bus and cycle lanes

There are also lanes that cyclists share with buses, motorcycles and taxis, in which it is illegal to drive on in any other motor vehicle.[13] Such lanes are on:

  • Newport Road: in Rumney and Roath, East Cardiff
  • Westgate Street, St Mary Street and Wood Street: in the City Centre
  • Boulevard de Nantes and Dumfries Place: leading from Cathays Park in the centre to Newport Road and East Cardiff
  • Cowbridge Road East: from Canton to Ely Bridge in West Cardiff
  • Tudor Street: a main city centre approach from Riverside in West Cardiff

Segregated / off-road cycle paths

Segregated cycle facilities can be a shared pavement with pedestrians, running alongside a road or through a park for example. This is denoted by a blue circular sign showing a bicycle and pedestrians. A cycle only route is denoted by blue circular sign showing a only bicycle. Much of the Taff Trail, Ely Trail and Rumney Trail are segregated from traffic. Other such routes in the city include:

West Cardiff
  • Llandaff Fields: through parkland area in Pontcanna, connecting with the Taff Trail
North Cardiff
  • M4 Junction 32: routes run under the junction from Coryton to Tongwynlais
  • Gabalfa Interchange: routes run over and round the junction as an alternative to vehicle routes
  • University Hospital of Wales: routes run around Heath Hospital through King George Field
South Cardiff
  • Leckwith Road: from Ninian Park railway station in Canton connecting to the Ely Trail
  • Cardiff International Sports Village: the vicinity has a network a segregated routes connected to the Ely Trail in the west, Grangetown in the north, and Cardiff Bay in the east
  • Lloyd George Avenue: from the City Centre to Cardiff Bay, part of Route 8
  • Central Link: parallel to the east of Lloyd George Avenue
  • Butetown: a route runs through a housing estate to Cardiff Bay, parallel to the west of Lloyd George Avenue
  • Rover Way: through an industrial and commercial estate between Adamsdown and Tremorfa
East Cardiff
  • Llanedeyrn: a route runs through the housing estate from St Mellons Road to Llanederyn Interchange
  • Pentwyn Drive: a route runs along this road in Pentwyn around Wern-goch Park and connects with the Rumney Trail
  • St Mellons: routes connect various parts of the suburb
  • Llanrumney: a route connects Llanrumney Avenue with Ball Road, near the Rumney Trail

Cycle parking

There are bicycle stands for parking in locations including the following:

West Cardiff
  • Ely: Ely Library
  • Canton: Cowbridge Road East, Wellington Street and Llandaff Road
  • Fairwater: Fairwater Library
North Cardiff
South Cardiff
Cardiff City Centre
East Cardiff

Cycle hire: Cardiff Smart Bike / Pedal Power

Cycle hire station on
Queen Street/Churchill Way

The Welsh Assembly Government and Cardiff Council announced plans to introduce a free cycle hire scheme in March 2009, with at least 12 bike racks, each with five to seven bikes, placed around the city, allowing people to pick up bikes and ride them to another point, where they will leave the bike. Money would also be put into creating more strategic cycle routes and cycle lanes.[14]

The system, similar to those in other large cities, launched in September 2009, and includes 70 bikes and 35 hire points (initially 7) around the centre and the south of the city. The current stations are: Central Station; Cardiff Castle; Central Library; Queen Street Station; Churchill Way; City Hall; eastern Queen Street; Cardiff Bay Station; County Hall; and Cardiff Bay Visitors’ Centre.[15]

It is necessary to register before using a bike. The first half an hour is free after which a small hourly fee is payable. The scheme, which is part of a £28.5 million plan to encourage residents in the capital to use sustainable transport and ease congestion, was welcomed by campaigners.[16][17]

Pedal Power is a charity with their main bike centre in Pontcanna offering cycle hire facilities. Cycle training and cycle assessments are also available.[18]

Cycle refurbishment

Cardiff Cycle Workshop, a bike workshop launched in July 2010 in Ely, refurbishes and repairs unwanted cycles, saving old bikes from the landfill and revitalises them for new owners at cheaper prices. Cardiff Cycle Workshop has an agreement with Cardiff Council for cages to be placed in the waste facilities in Fairwater and Grangetown for members of the public to leave their unwanted bicycles. Then the bikes are refurbished, checked for safety and have parts replaced. The bikes are then sold for anything from £10 to £150. Three year funding has come from the Big Lottery Fund.[19]

Cycling routes

Ely Trail

A picnic area on the Ely Trail

The off-road Ely Trail is under development in the west and south of the city as of 2010, funded by the County Council, Visit Wales, and Countryside Council for Wales.[20] So far completed is the northern section through St Fagans, Fairwater and Ely, and the southern section running from Leckwith to the south along the River Ely through Grangetown, finishing at the Cardiff International Sports Village. However, these sections are yet to be connected.[21]

The route is connected to Cardiff City Centre via an off-road north-south route through Butetown.[22] The Taff Trail at Cardiff Bay can also be joined from the trail via Grangetown and Butetown.[23]

Rhymney Trail

The off-road Rhymney Trail is being developed by the Council as a commuting and recreational route along the Rhymney River in the east of the city. Currently completed is the section between Llanedeyrn and Rumney.[24] The Cardiff Cycle Map shows the route running off-road from Llanedeyrn Interchange, bypassing Llanrumney to the west, briefly joining Newport Road (B4487), and then heading south of Rumney to Wentloog Avenue (B4239). However, an off-road section also runs north-south through Pentwyn from Llanedeyrn.

Taff Trail

Taff Trail route sign in Grangetown

The 55 mile long Taff Trail runs from Cardiff Bay through Pontypridd and Merthyr Tydfil to Brecon,[25] forming part of the Lôn Las Cymru - the National Cycle Network Route 8 to Holyhead.[26]

The route begins at Roald Dahl Plass in Cardiff Bay and runs mostly off-road through the city for 7.5 miles (12.1 km) north through the City Centre, joining the River Taff in Bute Park before heading north-west through Llandaff and Radyr, leaving the city at Tongwynlais.

Route 88: Coastal route

Pont y Werin under construction

Route 88 is a proposed costal route from Newport to Margam Country Park via Cardiff.[27]

Pont y Werin

Pont y Werin (Welsh for The People's Bridge) is a pedestrian and cyclist bridge spanning the River Ely between Cardiff Bay and Penarth. Costing approximately £4.5 million, Pont y Werin crosses between the Cardiff International Sports Village and Penarth, allowing the public to travel to the Sports Village via Cogan railway station.[28]

Opened on 14 July 2010, the bascule bridge completes the 6.5-mile (10.5 km) Cardiff Bay circular walk and cycle route,[29] and incorporates a 20-metre opening section to allow river traffic to pass.


Cardiff rail network

Cycling is integrated into the city's urban rail network, which is operated by Arriva Trains Wales. Most trains have spaces for two cycles. However they are not permitted on services from Caerphilly, Radyr (except the City Line), Cadoxton, and Ebbw Vale Parkway to Cardiff Queen Street or Cardiff Central between 07:00 and 09:30, or services in the reverse direction 16:00 to 18:00 on weekdays. Outside these times, carriage is still at the discretion of the guard. Folding cycles can be carried folded-up at any time.[30]

There is cycle storage at Cardiff Central station on platforms 3, 4, 6 and 7, at the rear of station and in the Riverside car park.[31]

National rail network

Cycles are also permitted free of charge on the wider national network provided they can be safely stored in the designated areas and reservations through the train operator are recommended. Bikes must be carried in the designated area of the train and can’t be stored in aisles or vestibule areas. Cycles can not be carried on rail-replacement coach services. Folding bikes can be carried at all times as normal hand luggage.

Arriva Trains Wales also operates most of the Welsh rail network and its cycle policies apply to other services as well without the restrictions applied to the Cardiff rail network.

CrossCountry, who operate from Cardiff Central to The Midlands and The North, advise to make a free reservation for cycles before travel. All trains have two reservable bike spaces. Bikes for which no reservation has been made will be accepted on a first come, first served basis and subject to space being available.[32]

First Great Western, who operate from Cardiff Central to South West Wales, Bristol Temple Meads, London Paddington, Portsmouth Harbour and Taunton, make some cycle reservations compulsory. Six cycles can be carried in Coach A on HSTs, which are typically used on the London / South West Wales route. DMU trains, which are usually used on the Cardiff-Taunton and Cardiff-Southampton-Portsmouth route can carry at least two cycles at the end of the train. Most of they stations they operate have cycle storage and/or parking facilities. Restrictions, however, are that reservationss are compulsory on services that arrive into London Paddington between 07:00 and 10:00 and depart between 15:00 and 19:00 on weekdays.[33]


Cycles can not be carried on bus services in Cardiff. However, a Beacons Bus runs on Sundays and Bank Holidays in summer to Brecon which tows a cycle trailer to carry cycles.[34] The X40 service to Aberystwyth is one of the Traws Cambria services that does not carry cycles.[35]

Cycling Campaigns in Cardiff

Cardiff Cycling Campaign

The Cardiff Cycling Campaign campaigns for better provisions for cyclists in the city,[36] believing that the council's attitude is inadequate.[37] While it welcomes the Council's commitment to consider the needs of cyclists, it argues that these should not be marginal in relation to the management of cars and buses. A sea-change in thinking is required and available Council funds need to be used imaginatively to create 'coherent and continuous routes' through the city for cyclists.[38] For example, safe cycling routes through the city centre were lost with the construction of the new St Davids 2 shopping centre.

In April 2006 the Campaign pointed out that only 2.7% of people cycled to work in Cardiff. Campaigners cycled through Cardiff city centre during a rush hour period, accompanied by local councillors and a Welsh Assembly Member. A participating councillor was quoted as saying 'I was happy to rise to the challenge but at times it was frightening. The cycle lanes were sometimes inadequate and complicated, and if I hadn't been with the campaign I probably would have got lost'.[39]

Cycle Cardiff

Cycle Cardiff aims to raise awareness of cycling and organises bike rides in and around the city.[40]

World Naked Bike Ride

The Cardiff World Naked Bike Ride has taken place annually since 2008. This is part of a globally coordinated World Naked Bike Ride, designed to highlight the vulnerability of cyclists on the road and campaign for better cycling facilities. In June 2011 80 cyclists reportedly took part riding through the centre of Cardiff, many of them naked.[41]

Future plans


On 11 March 2009, the Welsh Assembly Government announced an investment of £28.5 million into an improved green transport system for Cardiff. According to Ieuan Wyn Jones, Minister for Economy and Transport in Wales, the Welsh capital will receive the financial boost towards green travel solutions over the two years, including money for improved walking and cycling routes into and around the city centre.[42]

Commuter cycle route

A commuter route for cyclists is to be installed, aiming to improve transport links between Penarth and Cardiff Bay. The Vale of Glamorgan’s first contra-flow cycle lane, which allows cycling on one way streets, will be established in 2011.[43]


  1. ^ BBC South East Wales | Cycling
  2. ^ DfT | Project: Evaluating the Success of Urban Cycle Networks
  3. ^ Wales Online | Cardiff is the most dangerous place in Wales to cycle
  4. ^ Keep Cardiff Moving | City Hall Travel Plan | p6
  5. ^ Cardiff Council | Cycling Strategy July 2007
  6. ^ Cardiff Council | Cycling Strategy July 2007 p.10
  7. ^ Cardiff Council | Cyling: Contacts
  8. ^ Cardiff Council | Cycling Strategy July 2007
  9. ^ Sustrans website "Wales" Retrieved 2011-09-10.
  10. ^ Cardiff to spearhead a commuter revolution Wales Online, 11 Sept 2011 (Retrieved 2011-09-10)
  11. ^ Cardiff Council Cardiff Cycling map 6th edition (2011)
  12. ^ DfT | Cycling policy: an overview
  13. ^ "Thousands of motorists to be caught by bus lane spy cam (From The Argus)". 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  14. ^ Abby Alford (2009-03-12). "News - Cardiff News - Cardiff transport shake-up ‘must work’". WalesOnline. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  15. ^ "Reinventing the wheel | Rental Locations". OYBike. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  16. ^ "UK | Wales | South East Wales | Public bike hire scheme for city". BBC News. 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  17. ^ Abby Alford. "News - Cardiff News - Smart bike system launch". WalesOnline. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  18. ^ "Home". 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  19. ^ Guardian Cardiff | New Cardiff Cycle Workshop opens as city sees vintage bike revival
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Cardiff Cycling Map 2007
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Cycle the Taff Trail - Breath the Contrasts across South Wales". Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  26. ^ "Route 8". Sustrans. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  27. ^ "Route 88". Sustrans. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  28. ^ Cardiff Council's proposed bridge
  29. ^ BBC News: First steps on bridge between Cardiff and the Vale
  30. ^ "showcontent". Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  31. ^ "National Rail Enquiries - Station Facilities for Cardiff Central". Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ "How to get here - Cycling in the Brecon Beacons National Park". Retrieved 2010-07-10. [dead link]
  35. ^ [1][dead link]
  36. ^ "Cardiff Cycling Campaign". Cardiff Cycling Campaign. 2008-03-11. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  37. ^ "FAQ". Cardiff Cycling Campaign. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  38. ^ "Useful Information". Cardiff Cycling Campaign website. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  39. ^ "Councillors are told: 'Get on your bikes'.". South Wales Echo article reproduced by 2006. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  40. ^ "Cycle Cardiff". Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  41. ^ "Naked bike ride takes over Cardiff’s streets" WalesOnline, 13 June 2011
  42. ^ [2][dead link]
  43. ^ WalesOnine - Cycle lane plan for Penarth to Cardiff Bay route

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