Welsh Green Dragon


City Car Club Launches in Cardiff by deanjpoolman

There’s a new, greener way to travel in Cardiff and it still involves the car. It’s called the City Car Club.

Based in Leeds, the City Car Club lets you hire a car by the hour in 14 cities across the UK and the scheme arrived in Wales last month.

Cardiff’s City Car Club was launched in partnership with the council and it was officially unveiled on Tuesday, December 7th by the Leader of the Council, Cllr Rodney Berman and Executive Member for Traffic and Transport, Cllr Delme Bowen.

The scheme is being funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, as part of a project to make Cardiff a “sustainable travel city”.

However, it was also public demand, which attracted the City Car Club to Cardiff, as Richard Drew who manages the scheme here explains:

[Audio http://audioboo.fm/boos/239458-richard-from-city-car-club-cardiff-explains-why-they-chose-to-launch-in-cardiff.mp3%5D

City Car Club - Cardif Launch

Launch of the City Car Club in Cardiff with Cllr Rodney Berman and Cllr Delme Bowen (Courtesy of City Car Club)

It’s hoped the scheme will reduce pollution and congestion in the city, because research has shown car clubs reduce the number of cars on the road.

The independent charity, Carplus believes “one car club car replaces around 24.5 private cars”, which means the initial delivery of City Car Club vehicles in the city could remove 245 cars from the roads of Cardiff.

Reducing the number of cars on the road isn’t the only environmental benefit of a car club scheme, Carplus also state that car club cars are more environmentally friendly and produce less carbon dioxide than the cars they replace.

At the moment, there are 10 low-emission Ford Fiestas available to hire across the city, with cars located in the City Centre, Cathays, Riverside, Pontcanna and Cardiff Bay. However, two more locations are due to open soon:

City Car Club Fiesta – King Edward VII Avenue

City Car Club Fiesta – King Edward VII Avenue

Every car available through the scheme is fully maintained and comprehensively insured by the City Car Club and each location has a space permanently reserved for the vehicle, so users should not have a problem parking at the end of their hire period.

But are these perks enough to make people sell their cars and join the scheme?

Heather, aged 49 from Cardiff: “I’m not a particularly confident driver, so I’m only happy driving my car. I’m used to driving it.”

Daniel, aged 29 from Newport: “I don’t come into Cardiff that often, so it’s unlikely I’d use one here, but I might if they were in Newport”

Mike, aged 46 from Cardiff: “I would have to look into it a bit more, find out about the cost and how the insurance works, things like that, but I’ll definitely look into it”

Only people who have paid a membership fee of £50 for the scheme and have received a smart membership card can gain access to the cars, as Richard Drew told Welsh Green Dragon:

[Audio http://audioboo.fm/boos/239476-richard-from-city-car-club-cardiff-explains-how-the-scheme-works.mp3%5D

The hourly cost of using a car club scheme can even be cheaper than owning a car, which means the benefits are not purely environmental, they are also economical.

Research conducted by the RAC last year suggests that car clubs are more financially beneficial for those who drive less than 8000 miles per year, while Carplus say those who drive less than 6000 miles a year can save £3500 a year by using a car club.

However, the scheme isn’t available to everyone in Cardiff with a driving licence:

  • Under 19 years olds cannot join the club.
  • Drivers who have held their driving license for less than 12 months are not permitted.
  • Members aged 19 or 20 years old have to pay £10 per month (in addition to the £50 annual membership fee) to cover higher insurance premiums.
  • Drivers with more than six points on their license may not be eligible (This is checked during the application process)

The City Car Club isn’t the first pay-as-you-go travel scheme to launch in Cardiff. Back in September 2009, OYBike launched in Cardiff allowing people to hire one of 70 pedal bikes from 10 locations around the city.



Prime Minister petitioned to help Cardiff buses by tanyamercer

 

A petition from Save Cardiff Central is going to ten Downing Street asking Gordon Brown to prevent Cardiff Council reducing the city’s bus services. 
Campaigners, including the city’s Green party, say the council’s development of Cardiff Central is making it more difficult for people to use public transport in the capital and reducing the city’s main transport hub.
Signatories are calling on the Prime Minister to prevent other local authorities across England and Wales from doing the same. 

Matt Townsend, Green party candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth, started the petition.  He said: “On a national level the government has been talking about integrated public transport, but if on a local level individual councils are able to take away those facilities or reduce the amount they are used, then that seems inconsistent. And once they’ve been reduced in size I’m worried they’ll never go back to the way they were before.” 

Councillor Delme Bowen, Travel and Traffic Executive for Cardiff City Council, said: “The petition fails to see the benefits the changes will bring. We are not reducing the integrated transport hub but modernising it. We will have two hubs – one in St Mary’s street and one at Cardiff Central.”
  

Sustainable Travel City
The changes were introduced as part of Cardiff Council’s joint Sustainable Travel City initiative with the Welsh Assembly Government. The council hopes the changes will reduce congestion in the city centre and encourage more people to use public transport. 

The ‘bus box’ 

Cardiff bus box

The new bus routes, which were introduced in October last year, mean all the buses now travel in an anti clockwise direction around the city.
Campaigners say this means people have further to walk to get to bus stops and adds considerable time onto people’s travel signs. 

Cardiff Central Station
In an attempt to reduce congestion around the bus station, more bus stops have been introduced along St Mary’s Street. Consequently only half the buses now stop at Cardiff Central Station.
Councillor Bowen says this will help keep traffic flowing around the city centre.
But Matt Townsend said: “Nearly all buses used to stop at Cardiff Central, but now many stop away from the station. This means people wanting to make connections with local and national trains and buses have to walk further. This means people will be less inclined to use the buses and those with mobility problems will be particularly affected. If the council wants people to use public tranport they need to make it easier for them, not more difficult.”  

Free B bus
Matt Townsend also has concerns about the new Free B bus, which is designed to link up bus stops around the city.
“Because the free bus only runs til about 8pm, it means people have to wait at other bus stops late enough. Although Cardiff Central Station isn’t the safest place, it is busy and people feel safer waiting there.”
There are also complaints from Cardiff residents that people haven’t been told about the free service. Consequently, very few people are using the service.
Councillor Bowen says a new publicty campaign has now started to advertise the new service. There will be a leaflet drop to people’s homes and posters put up around city bus stops.  

Future Plans
Save Cardiff Cental campaigners are concerned that the council has not been clear about its longer term plans for Cardiff Central Station and the city’s bus system.
Coucillor Bowen says the plans could take another five years to materialise. He said: “We’re in discussions about a new bus station and new sustainable transport systems such as a tram that can run on the road or on tracks.
“I know we’re going through a transition period now, but we will end up with a much better transport system, with less congestion. Consequently, people will be able to move around the city much more easily.”



£6 Million scheme to turn M4 into ‘Hydrogen highway’ announced by Chris Halpin

Ambitious new plans to turn the M4 in South Wales into a testing ground for vehicles powered by renewable fuels have been announced by Welsh Secretary of State Peter Hain and Environment Minister Jane Davidson today.

Dubbed the ‘Hydrogen highway’ futuristic filling stations will be installed along the motorway which can fuel electric and hydrogen cars, linking into a larger network across the South west and the Midlands.

A welcome boost to Wales’ Motor Industry

With yesterday’s news that Bosch would definitely close its Miskin plant, these new plans could give a welcome boost to Wales’ struggling motor industry. Building on years of research by the University of Glamorgan’s Renewable Hydrogen Research Centre, the Welsh Assembly Government hope developing the infrastructure will attract international manufacturing companies back to Wales.

£6.6 million pounds of funding has been awarded to the University’s research team to take the first steps into developing the hydrogen fuel technology and how the filling stations can be rolled out up and down the motorway. Some of the funding for the three year research project comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Assembly Government as part of the activities of the Low Carbon Research Institute. Here’s Welsh Secretary Peter Hain’s comments on the scheme.

Reaching a Low Carbon Economy

The plan will also help to meet Wales’ targets to move towards a low carbon economy and to tackle climate change. With fossil fuels running out, Environment Minister Jane Davidson says Wales should be at the forefront of developing alternatives to petrol fuelled cars. She believes hydrogen and electric power vehicles are the way forward and that Wales can be at the forefront of this technology. She also said that whilst carbon emissions from household energy were reducing, Transport emissions were still rising.

Listen to the full interview here.

The technology’s ready but the forecourts are not

Hydrogen fuel is extremely clean emitting only water when used as fuel. So far fuel cell technology has proved expensive, but the new funding will help research how to make the fuel more efficient. The next step is the expansion of the next generation of fuel filling stations. A number of car companies have already designed hydrogen powered cars but fuel station forecourts are not ready for them. Here’s the Honda clarity as reviewed by James May on the BBC’s Top Gear.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It’s hoped that by 2015 hydrogen powered vehicles will become a common sight on our motorways as they’ll be much cheaper to buy and you’ll be able to refuel them. With todays announcement we may be a step closer but there’s still a long wait until such vehicles are likely to be hitting roads near you.



Putting Cardiff on a car diet by helenglaberson


Cut back on cars, not just carbs this New Year

Cardiff Council plan to introduce car clubs to the city, as part of their strategy to cut down the numbers of cars on the roads.

This is part of Cardiff’s wider Sustainable Travel Plan which, if all goes well, will be implemented in other parts of Wales. The Council has already developed green alternatives that aim to cut down on cars, such as park and ride schemes, improving cycling facilities, and a drive to work car share scheme. They also plan to launch a new car club next year, to encourage people to rent out a vehicle instead of owning their own.

Hopefully the public will be inspired to take up a car diet for their New Years resolution. Less cars will mean a reduction in problems such as traffic, parking and of course the big greasy beast that is pollution, making the city a more sustainable and enjoyable place to live.

Cardiff’s sustainable travel plan

Ieuan Wyn Jones, Transport Minister says, “Commuter levels in and around Cardiff have increased significantly over the past few years. This is an exciting opportunity to develop and implement a range of innovative transport solutions which will benefit the 210,000 people who travel into the city on a daily basis.”

Executive Minister for Transport, Delme Bowen expands on car sharing and car club schemes:

Car Clubs

Cardiff Council is currently in the process of awarding a contract for an operator to run a car club in Cardiff. It is hoped that car clubs will encourage residents to rent instead of buying their own vehicle.  “A car club, along with car sharing, helps to promote choice and the greater use of sustainable modes of travel.” say Cardiff Council.

Car clubs follow a model that has been around since the 1970s in Europe, and is now used in many cities all over the world.

Car clubs are new to Cardiff, but they have been implemented overseas since the 1970s.

Scientific studies and customer surveys have provided substantial evidence that car clubs can help cut down on toxic output. More Options for Energy Efficient Mobility through Car Sharing (MOMO) have provided a paper bursting with the advantages of car hire.

The club scheme does not only yield green benefits – it is also hugely cost-effective for users. People will cut down on the high annual cost of tax and insurance, with the car company responsible for overall maintenance.

“The car sharing scheme is part of the answer to dealing with Cardiff’s congestion problem and provides people living in Cardiff with another option for how they go about their daily business.” says Gwenllian Lansdown, a Plyd Cymru Councillor who backed an 100-strong signature petition last year, urging the city council to support such a car club scheme. “This scheme has proved successful in other cities across the globe and I look forward to it starting in Cardiff” says Landsdown.

Car clubs will reduce congestion in the city.

A chosen car company will operate their rental service on behalf of the Council. If the scheme is successful, the contract will be renewed. Richard Drew, the South West Manager of City Car Club, is currently responsible for the plans in Cardiff.”We’ve been informed that we’ve been the most successful bidder but they haven’t made a final decision to say that we’re definitely going to go ahead yet” he explains.

The clubs would be aimed at people who would consider buying a second car, or those who are not completely dependent on having one. Users would pay a one off membership fee of around £75 and then they would pay around £3 an hour for car hire.

“If all goes well, we’re looking to start  the early part of spring next

Feedback has been positive towards car sharing and car clubs.

year.” Drew said last December. Before then, the company will need to decide where to base their cars. Drew explained, “what we’d be looking for in the first instance is people that know the area well that can suggest places where there’s real issues with parking.”

So how is the public responding to the Council’s Sustainable travel plan? “Feedback has been good so far, and car sharing generally is increasing. In Cardiff County Council alone there’s 18,000 people both recycling and car sharing. That’s looking good.” says Delme Bowen.

It looks like car slimming plans are running smoothly. Let’s hope the city won’t crash diet but will maintain a regular slimming regime, with healthy portions of sharing and regular car club rental.

Extreme car sharing:

How many people can you fit into a Smart car?

Cut back on cars not just carbs this New Year…


Cardiff – A sustainable travel city? by alexlodge

In light of events surrounding the Copenhagen Climate Summit, there’s a growing public awareness of the threats posed by climate change. But is this translating into effective action in Cardiff? The city has been making a concerted effort to reduce CO² emissions and combat climate change through a project aptly named ‘sustainable Cardiff’. Selected as Wales’ first “sustainable travel city” by the Assembly Government, a £28.5 million scheme aims to reduce congestion and pollution and promote public transport.  Part of the money has already been invested into providing free cycle hire, bus travel around the city centre, and improved bike and walking routes. The money has also given a final go ahead for the Pont-y-Werin (translation: Bridge for the people) pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Ely river between Cardiff’s sports village and Penarth.

On your bike

Transport, particularly private cars are widely acknowledged as one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions. Scientists say the need to change the way we travel is becoming ever more pressing. Cardiff Council have introduced a ‘keep cardiff moving’ travel plan that aims to cut car journeys and encourage the public to use buses, cycle, walk, or share car journeys at the very least. In terms of total impact on climate change, driving is thought to release around six times more CO² emissions than flying and seven times more than ships and boats. Cars alone create nearly half of our total transport emissions.

Changing perceptions

Lee Waters, Director of sustainable travel charity, Sustrans Cymru says achieving a sustainable travel plan in Cardiff will only be successful if people change their perceptions. “People need to be shown that there are alternatives rather than using a car all the time. We need to encourage people to use their cars less and choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment’. Listen below to Lee Waters, Director of Sustrans Cymru on ‘False Perceptions’…

“We need to break down this car culture and realise that it’s quicker and healthier to get around the city on a bike or walk.” Critical Mass is a peaceful gathering that wishes to see less car-dominated cities and more people cycling. On the first Saturday of every month, bikers depart from the steps of the Cardiff Museum at 11am and cycle en-masse around the city centre to raise awareness of cyclists in Cardiff.

Cardiff Cycling Campaign’ join the event every month – they are an organisation that promote cycling and are bidding for improved cycle routes and a cleaner transport environment. Cardiff Council claim “Cardiff is becoming an increasingly cycle-friendly city with 80km of cycle routes”. However, Cardiff Cycling Campaign argue ‘some of these cycle routes are no more than lines on the map, with nothing but blue “cycling permitted” signs to show that bikes are allowed on the road.’ They are currently campaigning for cycling access through the new St Davids 2 development, the A470, the Cogan Spur, and the Western Cycling Corridor.

On Your Bike – Free Ride Scheme (OYBIKE)

Cardiff residents and visitors who register with the Cardiff Bike Scheme can hire a bike from bike stations in 10 locations in Cardiff city centre and Cardiff Bay.

Users have to register online and pay an £18 annual fee or £5 a week to use the bikes, which are free for the first 30 minutes and have a small charge after that. Delme Bowen, Councillor for Traffic and Transportation says the new OYBIKE scheme which started in September has so far successfully seen a monthly increase in usage within Cardiff. Have a listen below:

I thought I would have a go at Cardiff’s new Bike scheme. Watch the video below to view my experience.

There’s mixed opinion in Cardiff. Some people think it’s a great idea whilst others need a little more convincing…

Lee Waters says ‘the OYBike scheme in Cardiff is still only on a very modest scale compared with similar programmes in Copenhagen or Paris. In Cardiff, there are only about 70 bikes and 9 drop off points. However he also points out that thirty years ago Copenhagen had the same level of cycling that Cardiff has today. Now, over a third of all commuting journeys in the Danish capital are by bike. Let’s hope Cardiff has the potential to achieve the same.



(What should be) A welcome short term solution… by catherinegraham4

It was honestly quite disheartening to hear Jan Cliff, founder and director of Sundance Renewables, talk despondently about her struggle to launch biofuels in Wales. A not-for-profit social enterprise, aiming to increase welsh involvement in renewable energy systems, continues its hard work to develop biodiesel and to see it succeed as a legitimate option for running vehicles. Sundance Renewables is Wales’ premier biodiesel producer and has achieved a great deal since starting out but this, apparently, is still not enough.

Their mission is counter balanced mainly by the problem of finding a platform on which to market and distribute the product. Jan explained how the political side is also a large boulder blocking the sun and that the ignorance and disinterest on the legal side is clear: “Some politicians do not even have a clue that vegetable oil can be used for biodiesel.”

Jan emphasised how this issue of renewable fuels should have been attacked over the last 30 years yet it has just not been confronted in the right way. Besides the legalities, the battle lies in getting communities on side: people are embarrassed of filling up with biodiesel as they see it as second rate in some way. How has it developed this bad name? Can we blame the media for this?

Also, people in general do not even consider the issue of biodiesel because we have enough petrol right now to allow us to plod along as we are. There is a worry that until somebody actually stands up and announces that petrol has officially run out, the general public will be content with the current situation.

Petrol and diesel are non renewable petroleum fuels. They are NOT going to last forever and biodiesel could really become an essential transport fuel in the future, even if it were just to provide a stop-gap. Perhaps people should really sit up and think about this. One day these biofuels will be essential and Sundance Renewables will be something of a gold mine. Why wait? As Jan so rightly puts it “the stone age did not come to an end because we ran out of stones. The petroleum age has to end before we run out of petrol.”

Contact Jan at jan@sundancerenewables.org.uk

View the website at www.sundancerenewables.org.uk