Why can’t Cardiff be like Copenhagen?

Walking into work this morning I was almost run over three different times by three different vehicles. The first was near the car park in Sophia Gardens, where there are signs and road marking clearly indicating that there is a speed limit of 5 mph but where the normal speed of cars is probably more like 35; the guy who nearly killed me was doing about 60.

Next, in Bute Park, a heavy lorry belonging to the Council, engaged in some sort of “tree-management” business, thundered along the footpath past me. These paths used to be marked 5mph too, but the Council removed all the signs when it decided to build a huge road into the Park and encourage more vehicles to drive around inside. The lorry wasn’t going as fast as the Boy Racer of Sophia Gardens, but the size of the truck made it just as scary.

Finally, using a green light at the pedestrian crossing at Park Place I was narrowly missed by another car who had clearly jumped a red light to get onto the dual carriageway (Dumfries Place) leading to Newport Road.

I have to say things like this aren’t at all unusual, but it is the first time I’ve had three close encounters in one day! Although most car drivers behave responsibly, there seems to be a strong concentration of idiots in Cardiff whose antics are exacerbated by the hare-brained Highways Department of the local council. There are many things to enjoy about living in Cardiff, and the quality of life here is very good for a wide range of reasons, but of all the cities I’ve lived in it is by a long way the least friendly to pedestrians and cyclists.

If only Cardiff were like Copenhagen, one of the loveliest and most liveable cities I’ve ever experienced, partly because of traffic policies.

PS. In the interest of balance I should also point out that I was once actually hit on a pedestrian crossing in Cardiff by a bicycle steered by a maniac who went through a red light. In this case, however, I did manage to push him off his bike as he tried to get away, so he ended up more seriously hurt than I was. I was hoping that a friendly car would run over his bike, which was lying in the road, but sadly that didn’t happen.


20 Responses to “Why can’t Cardiff be like Copenhagen?”

  1. Rhodri Evans Says:

    Yes the Council seem to be destroying Bute Park. I went for a run in it on Wednesday for the first time in over a year, and ran in parts I had not run in in about 8 years. They’re destroying the wildness of Bute Park, everything is being tarmaced over. It’s such a shame.

    Copenhagen is a city I’ve sadly only been to once, but it is a majestic city with lovely parks and buildings. Cold and dark in winter though!

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    But do you really want the Cardiff interpretation of Quantum Mechanics?

  3. telescoper Says:

    Of course they don’t play cricket or rugby in Copenhagen, which is a problem, but they do have a splendid modern Opera Theatre…

  4. Rhodri Evans Says:

    Anton – the Cardiff interpretation is Bernard Richardson.

  5. telescoper Says:

    A white box above what?

  6. telescoper Says:

    It’s an exciting Danish video. Perhaps you’re not allowed to watch such things

  7. Mr Physicist Says:

    I too have spent some time in Sophia Gardens (near the Welsh Institute for Sport) and visited Bute Park and sympathise with the total lack of road manners (well, any manners) that many people display. Its a lovely area to walk and discover, but as with many areas of the UK it can also suffer from idiots in vehicles who simp,y think they have some fort of priority. It amazes me that local councils will penalise almost anything, except these antics that happen almost every day. Have we really become immune to bad behaviour just because someone is sat behind a steering wheel?

    • telescoper Says:

      Yes, everybody complains about motorists there – especially the stewards outside the ground who I say hello to every morning. Nobody bothers to enforce the speed limit, so it’s pointless having it. Looking it another way, a unit with a speed gun could make a fortune in just one day there!

  8. Rhodri Evans Says:

    But who would play the part of the mermaid in the harbour (or Cardiff Bay in our case)?

  9. I would love it if Cardiff was more like that, it’s so calm and friendly. The trouble is many British people just aren’t interested in friendliness and communities, which is sad. The other thing that springs to mind is disabled access. Cardiff Council have pedestrianised one road (and, yes, made a few mistakes along with it) but there’s been loads of complaints from people with limited mobility who can’t get from the nearest parking to the shops. I suppose the shared space and slow vehicle speeds mentioned in the video would be the solution?
    Thanks for the post, and the video.

  10. Rhodri Evans Says:

    I was in town (Cardiff) quite late Sunday evening, and the place where I was closed up early. When I asked why, the security guard said it was because they had to change their late opening policy as there was too much anti-social behaviour. The Welsh (and I think the rest of the Disunited Kingdom) have a long way to go in my opinion before we are as civilised as many of our continental cousins….

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Rhodri I beg to differ. Apart from some rioting in the fairly early 19th century which was appropriately dealt with by looking at the Corn Laws and instituting the Reform Act, there has been 350 years of civil peace in England and Wales. When the Continent has matched that I’ll be ready to take lessons from them. Today’s yobs are certainly a problem and we probably have our own view of how things got that way and what to do about it, but on the scale of history they are not huge.

  11. Rhodri Evans Says:

    Anton – I was referring specifically to anti-social behaviour, which seems to be worse in the Disunited Kingdom than other parts of Europe. As far as rioting is concerned, what about Dic Penderyn? That happened more recently than the early 19th Century. And, although there may not have been any wars in England & Wales in the last 350 years, that hasn’t stopped the English/British from rampaging around the World starting wars in other parts, not least of all in Ireland.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      I agree that our Friday and Saturday night town centre p***heads are worse than in the rest of Europe and that this is not good, but I don’t think it is a terrible thing on the grand scale of history. The Dic Penderyn episode is of the exact era about which I wrote that there *was* significant civil unrest, but it calmed once the government did the right thing over the price of staples and electoral reform. Contrast that to the bloodsome series of revolutions and internal unrest and/or repression in many continental countries in the last three centuries.

    • Rhodri Evans Says:

      So the English/British just repressed peoples in other countries?

      I don’t think that makes them more civilised. And, repression continued anyway in Wales (and other parts of the DUK I am sure). The Welsh language was repressed until the 1960s at least (some would argue it is still being repressed).

    • Rhodri Evans Says:

      The Treachery of the Blue Books – when official educational policy to repress Welsh started….


    • Anton Garrett Says:

      This started as a comparison between Britain and continental Europe of what goes on *inside* nations. In sticking to that subject I am not excusing Britain’s wars of imperialism (although, for perspective, remember that the two largest wars in history were started by continental nations for that same reason). We have a few yobs making a mess of our town centres two nights a week and this did not happen a generation ago. Not good, and not like the continent, but compared to life in Spain under the Inquisition in the 18th century, or compulsory call-up in Napoleonic France, or life under Hitler in Germany… may we keep this in perspective?

      The real injustice to Wales was perpetrated many centuries ago. That does not make it irrelevant today and I am interested in suggestions of how to respond in our own era, but ‘repression’ is a word that relates to a spectrum and you are talking about the mildest end of it. Throughout my lifetime it has, thankfully, been legal to speak Welsh, to advocate Welsh, to demonstrate in support of the Welsh language, to abuse English politicians. Nobody has been fined, jailed or executed for doing any of those peacefully, and nobody has suggested removing those rights of the Welsh in response to their exercise.

  12. […] I’ve mentioned before, Copenhagen is one of my favourite places. I was first invited here while I was a PhD student […]

  13. […] day, about six years ago,  I was almost run over three different times by three different vehicles. The first was near the […]

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