Cardiff Calling

The sun always shines on the Cycling Embassy AGM, but there was a point this Friday when I did wonder if this weekend was going to be an exception…

car and flooded pavement

But in the end, as it always does, it came good.

riding bromptons in the sunshine

I’m not sure how exactly the annual gathering has evolved from a meeting with a bit of a bike ride* attached, to a weekend of advanced bike-borne kerb nerdery with with a meeting shoehorned in around the edges, but you won’t catch me complaining. I’ve been encouraged to note that quite a few other cycling meetings now seem to involve an outing or two before the business proper begins, but at the Embassy gatherings, the bulk of the discussion seems to happen on the bike – at least those conversations that are the real reason why I go to conferences of any description – the chance to catch up with fellow campaigners (and like-minded road engineers), swap war stories, exchange information, learn new things and hatch plans for the future.

looking at roadworks

“What did you do at the weekend?” “Oh, I went down to Wales to look at some half-completed road works”

Cardiff seems like a city that’s going places although (like pretty much all UK towns and cities) it is very much not there yet as far as cycling goes. The council appear to have big plans, and they’re being driven on by Wales’ Active Travel Act which means every local authority in Wales has had to develop an active travel network (coming from Scotland, where our so-called Cycling Action Plan for Scotland neither did much to force any action, nor contained anything you would recognise as a plan, this came as something of a revelation).

bicycle street

The city also has the sort of can-do attitude that can only make me look at the coonsil up here and weep. Putting in a sustainable urban drainage scheme? Why not make the whole area low-traffic neighbourhood while they’re at it? And not only did a councillor and a council officer attend the second of our rides, they were busy discussing where they could put in some extra dropped kerbs as we made our way back. We can’t even get councillors and officers in the same room up here, let alone out on bikes together, in case it removes their magical powers to pass the buck to each other.

Tackling the ‘Alpe d’Huez’. I’ll leave you to insert your own metaphor about uphill struggles.

And of course, as serious campaigners and professionals, there was no temptation at all as we passed the skate park to see what a Brompton could do over a tidy set of ramps and jumps.

Bromptons in Skate Park

No temptation at all.

*I would like to put it on record that I am the coiner of the phrase ‘infrastructure safari’ – the point of the weekend when we set off around a city examining every bridge, barrier and bollard, and of course those all-important kerbs.

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