GoBike!

Get off the road!”, a GoBike member’s View on Parking, Private Property and Cycle Facilities

We reproduce below the submitted text of a Herald newspaper Agenda item, written by GoBike member, Bob Downie, and  published in the Herald today.  It is just possible that the car owning populace of the land might not like this article, so if you agree with it then please get your letter of support into the Herald now!  Bob has written the item in a personal capacity but we are pleased to publish the views of GoBike members if they are generally in line with our aims. The printed text, as in the Herald, is given here: http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/15483256.Agenda__On_street_parking_should_not_be_at_the_expense_of_cycling_infrastructure/

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“When on your bike, how many times do you hear the phrase “get off the road!”, followed by a barbed statement along the lines of “roads are for cars and you can get your toy onto the pavement”? The answer is more often than many of us would like. Being the mature adults that we are, we sadly shake our heads and cycle on. It is to be hoped that the holders of such ideas will in time pass on to the great motorway in the sky, and be replaced by a younger generation more used to the idea that one’s transport mode depends on the journey, walking, cycling, driving or public transport as the circumstance dictates. We can dream.

However, even enlightened urban car owners consider that they have an absolute right to park on the street outside their property. As a campaigner for improvements in the cycling environment in Glasgow, I keep bumping up against the refusal to install any cycling infrastructure because it could only be built at the expense of on-street parking. This factor, possibly more than any other is the primary reason why we do not, and possibly cannot, have good quality, protected cycle lanes in our fine city.

The desire to park on the road close to one’s property is perfectly understandable, but let us step back and ask the fundamental question, what is a road and what is its function? The online Oxford English defines a road as “a wide way leading from one place to another, especially one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles can use”. The Collins dictionary offers “a road is a long piece of hard ground which is built between two places so that people can drive or ride easily from one place to the other”. However, the most important definition is the Road Traffic Act 1988 which states “a road physically should have the character of a definable route, with ascertainable edges, and that leads from one point to another to enable travellers to move conveniently from one point to another along that route”.

The essence of all the above definitions is that a road is constructed route that people can use to travel by vehicle from one place to another, the RTA of 1988 adding the term “move conveniently”. What is conspicuously missing from any definition of “road” is that it is a place to store your priv2ate property. Now call me picky, but what is a car if not private property?

It thus seems that we cannot have the network of safe, connected cycle infrastructure in Glasgow that we so urgently need, because of the priority given to allowing people to store their private property on the public road. I have no fundamental desire to stop parking where there is room to do so without impeding traffic, but cyclists are every bit as much traffic as are motor vehicles and it is wrong to deny them safe, segregated routes by preferentially prioritising parking. Glasgow, like all urban areas, needs a cycle revolution. The pent-up desire is huge but until safe infrastructure is created the desire will never be satisfied for the many would-be cyclists intimidated by sharing roads with motor vehicle.

So, on-street parking is fine, but should be given the lowest priority and allowed only after the needs of all traffic, including cycling, are satisfied. Roads are routes to travel on and not places to store personal property. I say, “Get the parked cars off the road” and allow the cycle traffic to flow.”

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