Glasgow City Council have put their planned closures of cycling and walking routes around the COP26 security cordon out for what they are calling “consultation”. The link to their Section 11 Order is here. This means that we now all have an opportunity to submit our representations or objections, giving our grounds for objection if so.
The “consultation” has also noted that “we have proposed alternative routes to help pedestrians and cyclists navigate around the area during the event and would welcome comments or ideas about the proposed routes”. While we would have preferred to be consulted directly on this as outlined in our petition, we will use this opportunity to feed in our suggestions for improvements to the planned diversions, which we outline below.
We would encourage you to respond – the deadline if you wish to object is September 3rd.
GoBike plan to object to the Section 11 Order on the grounds that:
- The security cordon encompasses a number of key corridor active travel core path routes, which should remain open for all as a matter of priority at all times, not least during a climate conference. Diversions planned as a result of the core path closures mean that people walking and cycling will have to take lengthy diversions, where planned diversions for people on bikes are likely to be unsafe, unless Glasgow City Council agree to create cycle lanes physically protected from motor traffic.
- The cordon along Finnieston Street originally promised to keep space open for people cycling has now changed to walking only. The security plan demonstrates that all four lanes of this street are outside the security zone. The fact that the pavement will be open for walking suggests that proximity to the boundary is not an issue here. Creating a segregated cycle lane here with temporary barriers does not appear to raise obvious safety concerns and would significantly reduce the impact of the closures. This would require moving the boundary in only a few metres to provide a bi-directional active travel lane up and down Finnieston Street.
We have sent in a number of suggestions to council officers regarding the planned diversions. These centre around the need for our proposed Conference Active Travel Lanes which we hope will be adopted in order to see improvements made for people cycling in already difficult conditions.
- Conference Active Travel Lanes
Closing a key city active travel corridor during a climate crisis has a devastating impact on measures that we and the council have been taking to encourage a greater modal shift towards active travel. To close active travel routes and fail to provide a high spec alternative that works for all users during a climate conference is deeply damaging to the safety of people choosing cycling, due to the environmental impact it will create, and also for the reputation of the city when the eyes of the world will be watching. For these reasons we need Glasgow City Council to do more – diversion signs and paint on the road is not going to be enough. We propose that Glasgow City Council work to create a network of Conference Active Travel Lanes around the city, particularly where key routes are to be closed.
A number of issues are present with the current planned diversions, as well as their length. Many of the streets, particularly Argyle Street are large streets with high volumes of fast moving traffic on them. These are not suitable roads for cycling for all users. James Watt Street is a one way street, currently narrowed by construction works and provides no suggested opportunity for contraflow cycling, therefore the diversion doesn’t work in practice here. Further, the diversion includes the expectation that people on bikes must dismount at pedestrian crossings under the Kingston Bridge.
Necessary diversions for a traffic free National Cycle Network route MUST retain their motor traffic free status in order to be suitable for “all users”. We have seen from Spaces for People schemes that temporary traffic free cycle lanes CAN be implemented quickly, and we would like to see the council build on this experience and use what has been learned through it, to provide safe diversionary spaces for people on bikes.
The conference and its exclusion zone has been on the radar of the council for a long time, and we simply cannot accept that time is the issue with failing to implement a safe active travel diversion. We propose that all routes on the suggested diversions and on the proposed conference Active Travel Map provide separated space, dedicated for active travel, physically protected from motor traffic.
- Finnieston Street.
We urge Glasgow City Council to work hard to liaise with the police on recent decisions made on Finnieston Street. It is clear that if a Conference Active Travel Lane were present on Finnieston Street, that lengthy diversions (2 miles, by your proposed route) could be avoided. Asking people on bikes to get off and walk here is counter to all active travel provision plans and would fail to pass an equality impact assessment that takes the needs of people with disabilities using bikes as mobility aids, into account.
The security plan demonstrates that all four lanes of this street are outside the security zone. The fact that the pavement will be open for walking suggests that proximity to the boundary is not an issue here. Creating a segregated cycle lane here with temporary barriers does not appear to raise obvious safety concerns and would significantly reduce the impact of the closures. This would require moving the boundary in only a few metres to provide a bi-directional active travel lane up and down Finnieston Street. The council needs to have a willingness to push further with the police on this and we ask that issues surrounding active travel are raised again on this.
- The Clydeside Expressway
We have had a communication from Glasgow City Council stating that the Clydeside Expressway will be periodically closed during the conference to motor traffic. We propose that the closures to motor traffic on this section of the Expressway extend throughout the period of the Section 11 implementation, and that this road is repurposed as a Conference Active Travel Lane.
- Ferry Road to Kelvinhaugh Street Cycle Path
The cycle path that follows the Clydeside Expressway between Ferry Road and Kelvinhaugh Street is on the very edge of the security cordon and so there is no reason why it cannot remain open. The security benefits from closing this section of the path to cyclists/pedestrians must be limited, yet the inconvenience caused by its closure is large. We propose that this section remains open for active travel, reducing lengthy diversions.
- The West City Way and NCN 756 Bridge
Despite asking the question, we are still unclear as to the reasoning for the closure of these core paths and have not been satisfied with an answer as to why. These are vital sections of traffic free routes in the city and we propose that they are kept open in the absence of good reason for closure. If they absolutely must be closed, the closure should only be at times where the security risk is high.
We sincerely hope that Glasgow City Council will consider working proactively to improve an already difficult situation for people choosing cycling in our city.
Our petition (link here, you still have time to sign!) called for proper consultation with our cycle campaign prior to releasing the planned diversions, and the failure to do so is clearly demonstrated in the proposed diversions in the plan. Failure to consult with us has come despite numerous requests, plus council agreement that GoBike would be consulted directly, at the ‘Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction City Policy Committee’ on Tuesday 8th of June.
While we are concerned that this Section 11 Order is very far removed from effective consultation, we will use this opportunity to feed in our proposals and hope that you can add your support.
It is essential that much more is done for active travel during the climate conference and we would expect to see a council, who have declared a climate emergency, to do more than simply put up diversion signs along a long, convoluted and unsafe route for people cycling. We believe that repurposing road space around the COP26 cordon for protected active travel lanes is the solution.
** We have sent these suggestions in to the council today and have already received endorsements and support from Glasgow Eco Trust, Get Glasgow Moving, the office of Patrick Harvie MSP **