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.


Cardiff Man hit by flooding calls on Council to do more by alexlodge

One in nine homes in Wales is at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea.

Whilst the Environment Agency announced plans to extend its flood warning system in Wales last week, we spoke to one man who is calling on Cardiff Council to do more to stop flooding in his area.

37-year old Anthony Cornick’s garden was damaged when Whitchurch Brook, which backs on to the house at Heol Waun Y Nant, broke its banks two weeks ago.

Flood water washed away land at the bottom of Mr Cornick’s garden, dislodging his fence and leaving a seven-foot drop.

Mr Cornick said: “I’m worried about my three children. They enjoy playing in the garden, in the Spring and Summer. But obviously, I don’t allow them to play in the garden at the moment, with the condition it’s in.

“What I want to see is some action. I want to see the land put back, and see someone take responsibility for the land that was there. But I don’t seem to be getting any response from the local authority.”

Flood defence projects

Cardiff Council has told Mr Cornick that he must repair the damages himself.

A Cardiff Council spokesman said: “Council officers are eager to re-open lines of communication with Mr Cornick in order to work towards a satisfactory conclusion to this issue.

“The council is attempting to find out exactly who is responsible for the piece of land in question, but while this is in progress, we must stress it is Mr Cornick’s responsibility to secure his own ground and fence.”

The council will spend will spend £451,000 on the brook as part of a European scheme supporting eight flood and coastal defence projects in the local area.

Flood Warnings

From March, the number of properties who automatically receive free flood warnings will increase from 47,000 to 90,000.

Eligible homes and businesses will be notified by post, a phone call to their landline or a text to a mobile phone.

Alan Proctor, Flood Risk Manager at Environment Agency Wales said: “Last November’s devastating events in Cockermouth remind us that the dangers of flooding and how being prepared is crucial.”

“We urge everyone to check whether their property is at risk and taking steps to prepare, such as looking at ways to make properties more resistant to floods.”

On the seventh day of Christmas Welsh Green Dragon gave to me… by Chris Halpin

So you’ve survived eating cold turkey sandwiches all week, you’ve just about eaten you body weight in cheese and you’re almost glad to see the back of a mince pie for at least another 11 months. We certainly get through a lot of it over the Christmas period, and many of us will now be thinking of our healthy and energetic start to 2010. In this interim week-long limbo between Christmas and New Year, its easy to laze in front of yet another vintage film on ITV and forget all about the growing mountain of waste outside your back door.

So what easy things can be done to combat some of this leftover stuff? You mastered your surprised ‘oh isn’t this a lovely present face’ on Christmas morning when you opened that hideous jumper from Grandma, or received the John Grisham thriller you’ve no intention of ever reading. How on earth can you offload them now everyone’s gone back home and you’re left with a pile of tat you don’t want or need? After tiring of my gifts after about 5 minutes, I went for a trawl on the internet to explore ways one can do exactly that – although at first I stumbled across this reworking of a timeless Christmas Carol!

Having never yet hosted my own Christmas dinner, I too am oblivious to what happens to all that leftover stuff after a Christmas with all the trimmings. It seems for the most resourceful, any leftover food is shoehorned into the subsequent days dinners – and I’m not just talking about those aforementioned never-ending turkey sandwiches. Delia Smith, love her or hate her, has a number of recipe ideas utilizing the leftovers from Christmas lunch ranging from Turkey Soup to a Stilton omelette (so maybe i could manage a bit more cheese then!).

No doubt in the coming weeks every street will become littered with the skeletal remains of the once beloved Christmas tree. Now with pride of place in the heart of every cosy living room the length and breadth of the country, soon to be standing naked and bare on the end of each street corner. Cardiff Council can spare us all the rather depressing January sight that is the christmas tree graveyard as they offer a Christmas Tree recycling service. Well, I may have dressed that up  a bit, as their website advises you to remove the decorations, chop it up and whack it in your green wheelie bin. The same can also be said of that real christmas holly wreath you had hanging on your front door, the boughs of holly with which you decked the halls and the cheeky mistletoe you hid at the top of the stairs.

In terms of recycling all your Christmas cards and wrapping paper, The Woodland Trust are collecting cards at all M&S, WH Smith and TK Maxx stores throughout January. And good news with this is, not only will they be recycling and making new paper but they are also pledging to plant 12,000 new trees, the location of which you can decide by clicking the link above.  Wrapping paper needs to go in your green recycling bags – its estimated that 32 square miles of wrapping paper could end up in UK bins after Christmas!

Finally, back to that dodgy board game, trashy novel or putrid smelling aftershave you received from Auntie Phyllis. Well the charity shop could well be the answer for those who are more ethically minded – here’s Oxfam’s rough guide to the kind of goods they accept. Otherwise you could always whack it up on eBay!

For more information take a look at Cardiff Council’s Christmas recycling guide.

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.