Our petition on Active Travel Routes during COP26 was heard at council on Thursday and we are happy to say that we have made positive moves forward on points 2 and 3 of our asks.
The chair of the committee has asked officers to engage with GoBike about the closures, and to keep councillors updated. Officers also presented some new plans to include soft segregation along some very short stretches of the diversions. We have identified other stretches along the diversion route that also desperately need protection, as well as a suggested shortening of the diversion route, avoiding one of the most dangerous stretches. We have sent this suggestion map in to council officers for review.
We expect to meet with a representative of the Scottish Government shortly to also push them to go further and we will continue to push for cooperation between the council and Police Scotland in redetermining a lane of Finnieston Street for cycling. We were told at the hearing that security measures to ensure people’s safety is paramount, yet we don’t feel that the safety of people who would usually travel by bike on a traffic free route is being afforded the same protection. We also heard that people driving will also be affected by long diversions however we responded to say that the motor traffic diversions will be suitable for all people driving, and the cycling diversions will not.
The full statement and asks we gave to the councillors at the Wellbeing, Empowerment, Community and Citizen Engagement City Policy Committee is as follows:
Transport is now the UK’s biggest contributor to climate change. As COP26 comes to Glasgow in November, Glasgow City Council have a duty, under their declared climate emergency, to do everything they can do to ensure that travel around the city during the conference is allowed to be as sustainable as possible.
We are in full understanding that the cordon around the COP26 site has been set by the UN, and while we are extremely disappointed that this has led to the closure of walking and cycling routes within the cordon site, we would like to focus on what can be done for active travel by Glasgow City Council in the areas OUTSIDE the cordon. We were disappointed, as the cycle campaign for the city, not to have been consulted, despite our attempts to engage, before cycling diversion plans were made public.
To start with, we are asking that all diversions for active travel are SAFE and DIRECT. The section of the National Cycle Network that is being closed is used by thousands of people a day, by Glasgow City Council’s own counts.
Many of these people use this route BECAUSE it is traffic free, and replacing it with a route that forces people on bikes to share space with motor vehicles, will almost certainly rule out active travel for many people in the city during the climate conference.
In order to be safe, and to adequately replace this traffic free route, diversions MUST be physically protected, and a dedicated space for cycling. We have seen with Spaces for People measures how quickly and cost effectively temporary protected cycle lanes can be created, and we ask that the experiences the council learned from Spaces for People are built upon and utilised for these essential diversions. Climate impact outcomes in the report have not taken the impact of poor cycling diversions, which force those unwilling to risk sharing space with motor traffic to resort to using their car.
We have cycled the route and have found that particularly on this stretch of the city centre end of Argyle Street, space is plenty but traffic is fast. Creating cycle lanes with measures such as cones or water filled barriers is entirely possible. Council officers have told us that the diversions will meet minimum design requirements. During a climate conference, and a climate emergency, we need the council to surpass the minimum, so that the diversion is suitable for use by the people who would usually use the traffic-free Clyde Path. Painted lanes are not safe, they do not fit within the Core Design Principles of the Cycling by Design guidance, as a replacement suitable for most users, and they are simply not enough.
One particular area we would like to focus on is that of Finnieston Street. As you can see from this cordon map, the control of Finnieston Street sits out with the UN control area. This street is under the control of Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland, who we understand are using the street to provide vehicular access to delegates to the site.
Get Ready Glasgow have told us that Finnieston Street will be open for people walking, but closed for people cycling. They have said that this is due to PART of the road being used for vehicular access for delegates. The map in appendix 3.2 of your report shows incorrectly and misleadingly that cycling is allowed – it is an out of date map. Get Ready Glasgow have also stated that people on bikes are free to get off and push here. We know that designating a pavement as a cycle route where bikes need pushed, contravenes a whole host of design guidelines, not least accessibility legislation that takes people using bicycles as mobility aids into account.
As the pedestrian pavement on Finnieston Street is open to the public, we know that proximity to the site is not a security issue at this location. Get Ready Glasgow have also told us that only PART of the street is being used for vehicular access to the COP site. Aside from the sheer hypocrisy that there will be no active travel access to delegates attending a climate conference, we can see in this photo that there is more than enough space on Finnieston Street to use one of the many lanes for an active travel diversion lane.
Without Finnieston Street being open to cycling, the diversions proposed by Glasgow City Council add a whole two miles on to the journey of those travelling by bike between the south and the west of the city. For people who have never cycled, this may not seem significant, but for cycling, this means an extra 10 minutes of travelling under your own steam, which is a significant increase to an active journey time.
We ask the council that they urgently open up talks with Police Scotland on the use of this street, before the police apply to the council for their ATTRO, to look at reutilising some of the space for a protected cycle lane.
The West City Way cycle route has also been rendered unusable by the proposed closures of the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ flyovers. Other overpasses to the motorway that are closer to the cordon are remaining open, such as on St Vincent Street and Berkley Street.. The impact that closing the Bridge to Nowhere has on cycling between the city centre and the west end is going to be devastating and we ask that this is reconsidered.
The Ferry Road to Kelvinhaugh Street cycle path that follows the Clydeside Expressway is outside of the security cordon and so there is no reason why it too, cannot remain open. The inconvenience caused by its closure is significant and so we also propose that this section remains open for active travel, reducing lengthy diversions.
So what we are asking for is three fold. We ask that councillors push council officers to:
- Urgently work with Police Scotland to allow for the division of space on Finnieston Street, to allow for an active travel lane.
- Work with GoBike to discuss issues we have with the proposed diversions, and to consider some diversion solutions we have found.
- Ensure that all diversions are suitable for people who currently use the traffic free National Cycle Network that will be lost during COP – and that the diversions are SAFE, PROTECTED and DIRECT.
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. The eyes of the world will be on our city during COP, where we will have a key opportunity to demonstrate that active travel – walking, wheeling and cycling, for commuters, key workers, delegates, shoppers, and everyone getting around our city under their own steam – is a large part of the solution to the climate crisis we face.