Sustrans Cymru is asking all users of one of its flagship projects, the Taff Trail which runs for some 55 mainly traffic-free miles from Brecon to Cardiff Bay, to use the facility responsibly as Cardiff City Council prepares to extend the trial of a Code of Conduct that seeks to avoid conflict between the various diverse groups that share it.
The Code of Conduct, which has been trialled in Hailey Park in Llandaff will be extended to Bute Park, closer to the centre of the Welsh capital. Signs that reinforce some of the points in the Code of Conduct will also be made permanent.
Some of the elements of the Code of Conduct applies to all users of the Taff Trail as it passes through Hailey Park, others to certain groups only, such as cyclists or dog walkers; a quick trawl through the comments made to a BBC News Wales article last week under the perhaps inflammatory headline, Speedy Taff Trail cyclists in Cardiff told 'slow down’ suggests that while not all cyclists are angels, neither are all members of the various other groups using the trail.
The Code of Conduct asks users to:
Keep Left – Pass Right - All Users:
Cyclists, pedestrians and other users move more appropriately and efficiently when keeping to the left.
Be Seen & Be Heard: cyclists
Cyclists using a bell and wearing ‘highly visible’ clothing will assist in making their presence known to pedestrians and those with visual and hearing impairments. It is also recommended that cyclists use British Standard approved lights in low visibility conditions.
All users should adhere to signage and pathway markings. Cyclists are asked to pass pedestrians at a safe distance and slowly enough that the pedestrian can be avoided if they suddenly change direction.
Please be considerate & polite:
Pedestrians have a priority over all other users on shared pathways. Always cycle with respect for other users and please acknowledge those who give way to you. Pedestrians should remember that cyclists need room to brake and stop. Please thank a cyclist that stops or waits for you to pass – they will be more likely to stop next time. All users are asked not to block the path when stopping and also to assist in the ease of access for disabled users.
Please ride at a sensible speed:
Cyclists are asked to ride at a speed and in a manner that is appropriate to the conditions of the path, taking care to slow down near blind spots – e.g. bends, entrances and trees. The Department for Transport says that if you want to cycle quickly (say in excess of 30 km/h) then you should be riding on the road.
Please control your dog:
Pedestrians are asked to keep their dogs under control and preferably on a reasonably short lead in busy areas.
Dispose of all litter/waste appropriately:
It is requested that all users either dispose of litter in the waste bins provided or take it home with them. It is especially important that dog walkers clear up after their dog and dispose of the waste appropriately.
Stephanie Wilkins, chair of the Llandaff North Residents’ Association, told the BBC: "Just recently an elderly gentleman was knocked over by a cyclist and my sister's dog was run over a few years ago.
"I think commuter time is the worst and I know a lot of people don't use the path then because of the speed cyclists go at. I think some of them have a point to prove - they time themselves going from point A to B and just speed along.”
She added: "They often think it’s just a cycle path."
Liberal Democrat councllor Francesca Montemaggi, whose Grangetown ward is home to the path as it skirts the centre of Cardiff, said the path was a vital facility for the city’s cyclists but acknowledged that some needed to put a check on their speed.
"The path is a concern to people and the issue has been raised at Pact meetings and residents' meetings," she explained.
"I think the code of conduct is a step in the right direction as people need to be aware that they need to cycle at different speeds in different situations.
"Unfortunately, cyclists haven't got enough space on the road and motorists often disrespect them so we need to encourage people to cycle on the path - just in a sensible way. We don't want anyone to be hurt."
Vinny Mott, senior project manager at Sustrans Cymru, maintained that while cyclists needed to accept their share of responsibility when using the trail, that equally applied to other users.
"Cyclists should always take account of other users of the path,” she said. “If it has other people on the path they should be cycling at a necessary speed and giving way, etc," she said.
"But sometimes the cyclist isn't at fault, for example when a dog runs out at it. So we shouldn't lay all the blame on the cyclist. Everyone has a responsibility to use the path sensibly."
One of the more balanced comments to the BBC article came from John Lloyd of Cardiff, who said: “I have frequently used the trail variously as a runner, a dog walker and a cyclist over the last fifteen years. The main issue is that some users believe that they have the right of way over all of the others.
“The code of conduct should be widely publicised and communicated as it establishes the clear priorities for use of the trail,” he added.
Earlier this year, a film by Penarth resident Steve Castle about his daily commute on the Taff Trail won the prize for best film by an adult in the Sustrans My National Cycle Network competition.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.