Cardiff, the capital of and largest city in Wales, has just launched its Transport Vision to 2030: Changing how we move around a growing city. Just to do what it says on the tin would be ambitious: in fact this vision has the capacity to lead this city much further improving quality of life and reducing inequalities in the city.
Transport Vision to 2030: Changing how we move around a growing city. sets out the challenges and need for change alongside a series of areas for action under headings of:
Cardiff Metro: extending current proposals of this existing programme with routes across and around the city.
Bus Growth: moving to all electric buses and aiming to double the numbers travelling by bus.
Active Travel and Streets for People: a heading which includes a range of much wider benefits for communities and the environment such as a streets for health approach.
The Future of the Car: supporting the move to electric through charging points and recognising the move toward mobility as a service.
Various options related to funding are set out ahead of business case development for individual elements of the vision estimated to have a capital cost of £1-2billion. This doesn’t of course put a value on the other side of the equation: the wider benefits generated by the proposals including to organisations other than the Council. One simple example is the potential reduction in healthcare costs for the NHS Health Board resulting from improved population health. Reasons for action are not only financial however and also include addressing differences such as in healthy life expectancy of over 22 years within the city’s boundaries.
The challenges are numerous and clear for this city. The coming decade is also critical to long term mitigation of climate change and changing the direction of green house gas emissions in particular to reach net zero carbon as soon as possible. We increasingly also have other different environmental concerns beyond greenhouse gases too such as air pollution from particles in the air. So the timing is right – we need this level of ambition to stand a chance of success on those issues.
There’s an even bigger picture though – success in tackling these climate and pollution problems is inseparable from the complex web within which they sit. Imagine the effect of pulling one strand of the web of a spider: address one issue and the effect (good or bad) ripples out across the web, affecting for example:
- our health
- how liveable our cities and neighbourhoods are
- long term economic success
- reducing the gap between those with the most and those with the least
- the viability of ecosystems that support species including us!
So in a practical sense all of these issues – global and local – linked via the spiders web are very relevant to day to day questions like:
- How do children get to and from school?
- How do people get to (good) work?
- Can I get home at the end of the day for time with family / home / leisure?
- Do I know many of my neighbours?
- How does stuff I order online get to me?
- Is my local shop thriving?
- How do I get access to healthcare / social care / other services?
A great example of one of the many of the nuggets in the document is a streets for health initiative in the city – to support mobility by walking and cycling yes – but far more than that with the opportunity to support access for all ages, children’s play, enhance coverage of green planting; and to reclaim streets “as public spaces” for everyone.
There is a vast amount of detail to work up across the many individual proposals requiring a great deal of effort across many different organisations. But we have to start somewhere and this is a bold vision that in my view is pointing in the right direction and at the sort of scale we need to be talking about. More though, it is also rightly a much wider vision than just how we travel around cities but also about how we live, work, and play in them too.