Breaking the Cycle

Hello everyone, some of you may know my name from Twitter or have seen one of my videos (sorry for the swearing), but even if you have or haven’t, my name is Thomas and I am the newly elected Co-Convenor for the GoBike group.

I thought it would be a good time to introduce myself via my first blog post on GoBike website to let you all know a little bit about me and how I got here!

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** UPDATED ** Cycling services still open for business

** CORRECT ON SATURDAY 4TH APRIL AND MAY WILL BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE – NEW SERVICES UPDATED DAILY **

Cycling for transport and exercise is currently one of the essential things getting us through the Covid-19 crisis and GoBike are really grateful to the people out there helping to keep cycling going in Glasgow and beyond. The government have listed cycle shops as an essential service, and so we wanted to highlight the businesses still up and running, many of whom are offering discounts to our hero key workers, should you need a bike or essential repairs. 

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GoBike Cycle Rides Suspended

We regret to announce that in line with Cycling UK guidance, we have taken the decision to suspend our monthly GoBike rides until further notice.

Current advice does outline that while group rides are not advised, cycling individually is safe. In an open letter sent out on Tuesday to the UK Government, 16 leading academics have outline why “Walking and cycling can be compatible with social distancing if people are responsible.” The World Health Organisation have also given it a green light.

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Consultation Digest Issue 46, 29 October 2019: Queen Margaret Drive and Automated Vehicles are back, plus lots more.

There’s news from Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire as well as items from Glasgow, including a Glasgow University public meeting, covering University Avenue and a failure to acknowledge a dimension error, if you get to the very last item, in this wide-ranging mix of cycling interest. Do read on.

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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:

More evidence that improved cycling infrastructure is good for health.

We have recently linked to a new report published by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Scottish Government on our Evidence pages (see Health) called the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines that provides a wealth of evidence to show just how valuable exercise such as active travel is, not just to ourselves personally, but also on a much wider scale. We believe this goes a long way to show just how much of a health issue active travel is and should be treated as, particularly when it comes to funding considerations.

Here are some key quotes and infographics pulled out by one of our members for us.

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It was beautiful and sad and perfect

We were devastated that someone tragically lost their life cycling on our roads in Glasgow this week. To show our support the cycling community came together and held a vigil at the scene. This included a two minute silence, which was started and ended by the ringing of a bike bell. During this we remembered a young woman and stood with her, her family, her friends and each other.

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