Castle Street in Cardiff could reopen to private cars again
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Castle Street in Cardiff could reopen to private cars again depending on the results of a newly launched public consultation.
The street, a main road through the city centre, was shut in June last year, then later used as a public dining area last summer.
Last autumn, the road reopened to just buses and taxis, with a new segregated cycle path. This was a temporary option as major changes to traffic must go through a lengthy legal process, including a public consultation.
Now Cardiff council is asking the public what should happen next. The two options are either keep the road as it is—just taxis, buses, emergency and delivery vehicles—or reopen the road to all motor vehicles, including private cars.
Councillor Caro Wild, cabinet member for strategic planning and transport, said: “Congestion and air quality levels remain a major concern for residents in the city and we are continuously trying to make improvements that enable more people to use active travel and public transport.
“We have limited space available on Cardiff’s roads and pavements and we need to make sure this space is used in a fair way that supports a sustainable city.
“The options for Castle Street are important for us to get right, and we genuinely want to hear from people about how the different options affect them in their daily lives.
“We know that for some people car access is important, and while both options do not stop cars from accessing car parks, option two would stop people from using their cars from using the street to cross the city.
“For others, ensuring buses can move more quickly around the city centre may improve their daily commute, or they may feel more comfortable walking with fewer cars in the city centre. We have produced a helpful consultation pack so people can understand the different impacts.”
Even before the pandemic, the council needed to make major changes to Castle Street as pollution levels were breaching legal limits. The amount of nitrous dioxide measured—a harmful pollutant caused by diesel vehicles—was regularly well over the limit.
This caused the council to draw up a plan to get cleaner air in the city, by reducing the space for private cars and creating more space for buses, cyclists and pedestrians.
If Castle Street did reopen to private vehicles, the road would have two lanes for regular traffic and one westbound bus lane. Pavements would be widened and the cycle path kept. Modelling for this option shows nitrous dioxide would not breach the legal limits.
Modelling done by the council also shows that keeping the road as it is currently would disperse some traffic to other parts of the city, but not ‘cause a negative impact on overall air quality across the city’.
After receiving the results of the public consultation, the council’s cabinet will decide in the early summer on which of the two options to go ahead with. After designing and tendering the work. most of the changes to the street could be finished by the end of this year.
Full details of the plans and how to respond to the consultation can be found on the website.