The residential street in Cardiff that had a quarter of a million car and HGV journeys in one month

Picture this – you live in a residential street and a quarter of a million car and HGV journeys are made in a single month just beyond your doorstep. That’s about 8,333 cars every day and around 347 cars every hour. It sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it?

But for those who live and work in Pen-y-Wain Road in Roath, Cardiff, this number actually isn’t too surprising – in fact, it’s the reality. : How endless HGV traffic is ruining the best place to live in Wales A low-cost sensor called a Telraam supplied by WeCount – an EU-funded project that enables concerned citizens to count traffic – logged a whopping 225,204 cars and 26,084 HGVs on the street in June.

It focuses on the portion of the road between Shirley Road, which leads into it, and Mackintosh Place, which turns off it. The full report with different breakdowns of the traffic can be found here. “It was kind of a shock but not a totally shock to me,” said Stuart Thomas about the recent statistics.

He has lived in his house just at the junction which joins Shirley Road to Pen-y-Wain Road for a year. “The volume of traffic on this road is immense. And of course because of the position – there’s a crossroads – it’s literally coming from all directions.”

Bart Somers riding a skateboard down a street next to a car: Stuart Thomas, 46, lives on the junction between Pen-y-Wain Road and Shirley Road (C) WalesOnline/ Rob Browne Stuart Thomas, 46, lives on the junction between Pen-y-Wain Road and Shirley Road a car parked on a city street: Looking towards Pen-y-Wain Road (C) WalesOnline/ Rob Browne Looking towards Pen-y-Wain Road

From the “clanging and banging” and “vibrations” from the HGVs to the constant road rage from drivers jostling for their right of way living next to the “constant stream” of traffic is anything but peaceful for Stuart.

And to make matters worse he’s also observed another alarming effect side effect of the busy road in his bedroom. “I clean my room and you find lots of dust and dirt. I can clean it in the morning and in the afternoon it’s started to build up.

That’s bad and you think you’re breathing that in every day,” said the 46-year-old general assistant. Stuart’s housemate Paul Michael, 43, describes the road as a rat run for commuters into town and delivery services for restaurants and takeaways nearby. He’s been living in the house for four years – but possibly not for much longer.

“With Roath Park and the town centre it’s a perfect location. But I would definitely not be staying here long-term because the amount of pollution is insane,” he said. “The amount of thick black dust I have to wipe up – I think: ‘What am I still doing here?’,” he added.

Resident Paul Michael finds thick black dust in his bedroom from the traffic pollution every day (C) Paul Michael Resident Paul Michael finds thick black dust in his bedroom from the traffic pollution every day

“And also we’ve got a little store over the road and if you want to pop over, with the amount of cars coming from both directions, you can literally be standing there for a minute just waiting to cross what is quite a narrow road.”

The noise pollution is also unbearable for Paul, who is currently studying in college. “I’ve got earplugs. I put them in in the evening because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get any kip at all.

I’ve got a bag of them and I go through bags of them,” he said. “I try to keep the windows closed as often as possible. I’ve even inquired about an air conditioning unit for the next week so I can keep my windows closed but to have some cool air for the warm weekend.

That’s the extent you have to go to.”

a car parked on the side of a building: Residents say there is a 'constant stream' of traffic along the road (C) WalesOnline/ Rob Browne Residents say there is a ‘constant stream’ of traffic along the road

Paul and Stuart’s accounts are echoed by Tom Edgar, whose house in Shirley Road where he’s lived for 20 years is also right next to the junction. Standing outside his house he complains that “it’s got louder and louder to the extent that I can’t think of a time even in the middle of the night when I can’t hear traffic going past the windows”.

a man standing in front of a building: Tom Edgar lives on the end of Shirley Road right next to Pen-y-Wain Road (C) WalesOnline/ Rob Browne Tom Edgar lives on the end of Shirley Road right next to Pen-y-Wain Road a car parked on a city street: Looking towards Shirley Road (C) WalesOnline/ Rob Browne Looking towards Shirley Road

According to Tom’s observations – which are in line with the data picked up by the sensor – the majority of the cars driving onto Pen-y-Wain Road veer off into Mackintosh Place but there is less traffic next to Roath Park Primary School which lies further down the road. “What I’m noticing is a lot of the cars are not local.

They’re not stopping necessarily to park here, to stay here. They are literally using it as a rat run,” he said. Also concerned by the speed of drivers, he points to the junction. “We’ve had instances where it’s taken us 15 minutes just to get across this junction because people are flying round.

And they do come round this corner particularly quickly without necessarily looking.”

a view of a city street filled with lots of traffic: Residents describe the road as a 'rat run' and say most cars don't drive all the way down the street but veer off into Mackintosh Place (C) WalesOnline/ Rob Browne Residents describe the road as a ‘rat run’ and say most cars don’t drive all the way down the street but veer off into Mackintosh Place a car parked on a city street: Residents worry about the safety of the junction (C) WalesOnline/ Rob Browne Residents worry about the safety of the junction

Tony Attoe-butt, 49, Tom’s neighbour who lives opposite him, has noticed the same problem. “People don’t obey the 20 miles per hour. It’s a complete joke anywhere around here,” he said. “When it’s quiet you get people charging by.”

While Tony admits he’s not too worried about his own safety and is “used to it” the volume and speed of traffic is a particular concern for Veerawali Kaur further down Pen-y-Wain Road, whose children go to the local school. She said she’s been careful to teach her kids road safety because the cars “don’t want to stop”. For husband and wife Nigel and Alison, who own Cafe 73 in the street, the volume of traffic has some benefits.

a man and woman posing for a picture: Cafe 73 owners Nigel and Alison Williams say the heavy traffic is good for their business (C) WalesOnline/ Rob Browne Cafe 73 owners Nigel and Alison Williams say the heavy traffic is good for their business

“It’s probably good for our business because we’re on a busy corner,” admitted Nigel.

But he also observed that “the traffic at five o’clock is horrendous” and that “people don’t know where to park around here”. “We’ve had quite a few people say they often pass by and have been meaning to come here for ages and they see us open but parking is a big problem,” added Alison. Also worried about the safety of the roundabout, Nigel points out his cafe window. “You just have to turn round and watch the traffic – the amount of accidents we’ve nearly seen on that junction.”

Professor Enda Hayes from the University of the West of England is the coordinator of WeCount in Cardiff. He’s delivered more than 90 sensors around Cardiff alone. “Pen-y-Wain Road has been one of the more stable sensors over the last few months.

And Roath is probably the area where we have the most sensors in Cardiff. The community in Roath have been really eager to get engaged and get involved,” he said. “Pen-y-Wain is one of the heaviest traffic roads in that area.

You’ve got Pen-y-Wain Road, Shirley Road, Allensbank Road, Albany Road and City Road – they seem to be the ones that have the highest volume of traffic in that particular area. For Albany Road, for City Road, for Allensbank Road – maybe that’s kind of expected. But Pen-y-Wain Road and Shirley Road really aren’t big roads where you would expect this volume of traffic.”

WeCount has recently supplied Roath Park Primary School at the bottom of the road with a Telraam sensor. Deputy head teacher Lewis Fitzgerald currently works with parents and children to promote active travel to and from school and the school has seen a significant increase in children walking or riding their bike in each day. But concerned by the change he’s seen in the volume and size of vehicles of the road in the last three years head teacher Jonathan Keohane explained they are taking their active travel efforts to the next level.

“What we want to do is use the sensor to see how many of those quarter of a million cars are travelling all the way down Pen-y-Wain Road and how many are leaving at Mackintosh Place and using that as a cut-through. Our ideal dream as a school is to have the road outside the school closed off [and made] just for pedestrians just to reduce the cars coming through and the speed of the cars coming through at key times – even if it was a temporary closure just in the morning and afternoon.”

a man standing in front of a sign: Jonathan Keohane, the head teacher of Roath Park Primary School, would like the road outside the school closed off to traffic (C) WalesOnline/Rob Browne Jonathan Keohane, the head teacher of Roath Park Primary School, would like the road outside the school closed off to traffic

In response to concerns raised by those living and working on and near Pen-y-Wain road, a spokesman for Cardiff Council said the area was in a 20mph zone with speed and traffic calming measures along its length. “The figure of 250,000 vehicles over a month equates to 400 vehicles per hour in each direction, which isn’t dissimilar to similar roads across Cardiff.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2014, Pen-y-Wain Road carried 290,000 vehicles, so as of last month the traffic had returned to 85% of pre-pandemic levels, similar to traffic patterns across Cardiff as a whole. “In terms of the issues with speeding the WeCount data does not corroborate the claims made with 85% of percentile speeds within the 20mph speed limit, although they state themselves that there can be a 10% discrepancy in their speed surveys.”

a car parked on a city street: Cardiff Council says in 2014 the road carried 290,000 vehicles a month so the number has actually dropped (C) WalesOnline/ Rob Browne Cardiff Council says in 2014 the road carried 290,000 vehicles a month so the number has actually dropped

They added: “On Pen-y-Wain Road, to ensure children can cross the road safely, a raised zebra crossing is in place outside Roath Park Primary School with speed cushions in place on either side of the crossing to slow traffic down. “A traffic enforcement camera is in place on Werfa Street to enforce against vehicles waiting or parking on yellow zigzag lines outside the school.

Parking on zigzag lines causes an obstruction, especially to school children that are walking to school. “Traffic enforcement also takes place both late at night and early in the morning to ensure cars do not park on the corner of junctions in the area, which has been an issue as it causes problems for all road users.” With regard to the claims about air quality the spokesman said the authority takes “a risk-assessed approach to air quality monitoring across the city” and added that monitoring at Pen-y-Wain Road showed levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter were both significantly within the legal annual average limits.

They added: “It is worth noting the WeCount data collection tool is still a relatively new system and does not necessarily provide robust data for transport planning. We are a partner in this project and will be using the findings alongside our own traffic surveys and monitoring to strengthen our understanding of the network. “The council is distinctly aware of the issues caused by the amount of private car journeys in the city and has an ambitious 10-year vision to completely change our transport network through our transport white paper. ”

What can be done to get people to take fewer journeys by car?

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