Green for go as Cardiff says yes to traffic-free day

Cardiff's councillors voted 'yes' to Richard Cook's proposal for a traffic-free day when they met at the City Hall. Picture: Stuart Herbert from Flickr Creative Commons

Green for go as Cardiff says yes to traffic-free day

Paris, Brussels, Delhi…and now Cardiff. CTC has welcomed the news that plans to hold a traffic-free day in the Welsh capital have been given the green light.

Cardiff is set to follow in the footsteps of several of the world’s largest cities, after a proposal put forward by Cardiff County Councillor Richard Cook was passed by a massive majority when the full council met on Thursday (22 October).

Mr Cook, a CTC member and Labour councillor representing Cardiff’s Canton ward, said holding a traffic-free day was a way of “claiming back the streets” and would make the city centre more pleasurable for pedestrians, more accessible for cyclists and “fun” for families.

His proposal was passed by 41 votes to eight, with 14 abstaining – and Cardiff County Council’s cabinet will now consider the plans in greater detail.

CTC Cymru Councillor Gwenda Owen said: “The council’s decision is great news and fits perfectly with the aims of Cardiff Cycle City, which CTC helped set up with other partners in January 2014 with the goal of making Cardiff the best cycling city in the UK.

“Air pollution is increasing in the city and traffic-free days have already proved popular in much larger cities around the world, such as Paris, Washington, Brussels, Delhi, Bogota and Jakarta, so there is no reason why the venture cannot be a big success here in Cardiff.

“Hopefully they can be held on a regular basis as well, which will be of enormous benefit to Cardiff’s cyclists and pedestrians over the years to come.”

Hopefully traffic-free days can be held on a regular basis to the enormous benefit of Cardiff’s cyclists and pedestrians.”

Gwenda Owen, CTC Cymru Councillor

Richard Cook said he envisaged the traffic-free day would be similar to the model used on event days in Cardiff, with roads closed from Cathedral Road to the Hilton Hotel.

According to WalesOnline, he urged his council colleagues: “Let’s show Cardiff is as good as any other city, let’s make a statement. Let’s give Cardiff a traffic-free day”.

On the day Cardiff’s councillors voted in favour of the move, Delhi closed a four-mile stretch of road into the city centre to all vehicles other than public transport from 7am to midday.

Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal led a group of cyclists on the route to promote alternative forms of transport – although the effectiveness of banning most vehicles was questioned, as the streets were largely empty due to a public holiday.

The government hopes to hold a traffic-free day every month in India’s capital, which was considered the most polluted city in the world last year by the World Health Organisation, with an estimated 8.4 million cars using Delhi’s roads every day.

Brussels held a car-free day on Sunday 20 September, while Paris – which hosts the United Nations climate change conference from 30 November to 11 December – followed suit the following Sunday.

And Oslo plans to go a giant step further – by banning cars completely from the centre of the city within four years to reduce pollution.

The Norwegian capital's newly-elected council, made up of the Labour Party, the Greens and the Socialist Left, proposes building at least 60 kilometres of bicycle lanes by 2019, as well as investing heavily in public transport.

Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, lead negotiator for the Green Party in Oslo, told Reuters: "We want to have a car-free centre. We want to make it better for pedestrians, cyclists. It will be better for shops and everyone."


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