Away from busy roads – the University of Glasgow Travel Survey

When is away from busy roads not away from busy roads? When it’s beside it, but protected from traffic.

The results are out from the latest travel survey undertaken at the University of Glasgow and are online here and here for everyone to peruse.

We have been looking through it at GoBike and have major concerns with the wording of one of the provided responses to questions about cycling – “More cycle routes away from busy roads”.

Table 3.12 – Encouraging Cycling (top responses for Gilmorehill Campus)
What would encourage you to cycle more?
39% – Better / safer cycle routes and improved lighting
39% – More cycle routes away from busy roads
34% – Nothing would encourage me to cycle / cycle more
28% – More direct cycle routes

We would argue (and we know others had highlighted this during the survey process too) that “away from busy roads” could as easily be read as “protected from busy traffic” and therefore “segregated cycle lanes” as opposed to the assumption the report is making, that respondents are indicating a preference for quieter cycle routes through the campus, and away from direct routes such as University Avenue. We certainly would suggest that a fear of mixing with traffic is at the heart of why these respondents have chosen this answer for why they don’t cycle more, and not necessarily that they want to be able to cycle a longer more convoluted route to get to where they are going.

The finding of a preference for “away from busy roads” is repeatedly referred to within the final report (e.g. 5.3.2 The most popular response for both staff and students is a desire to see better / safer cycling routes and improve lighting around the University campuses and / or more cycle routes away from busy roads.)

We fear that the ambiguity of the wording may allow for this finding to be artificially skewed. UofG are likely to be looking for backing for their plans to provide cycle routes through their campus in lieu of ignoring the more important direct arterial route of University Avenue. We are highlighting it here in the hope that it might avoid this happening and the 700 people who signed our petition agree.

Protected bike lanes seem the most obvious solution to providing space for cycling “away from busy roads”, and they also tick the important requirement for routes to be direct.  The cost of inconvenience is that people will often choose not to cycle. There has also been another suggestion from within our team though. How about solving the need to create space “away from busy roads” by “making the roads not busy”. Now wouldn’t that be a mind blowing idea!

Buried within the appendices of the UofG Travel Survey Report 2019 are a couple more pertinent comments which we sincerely hope will be taken on board: