Starting this Thursday 21st October many of our city’s most used cycle paths and flyovers are due to close around the site of the COP26 at the SEC (and wider), and will remain closed until at least Monday 15th November.
GoBike have pushed hard for improvements to the initial diversion proposals and have had a few of our suggested improvements taken on board and implemented. We are however deeply disappointed that stronger decisions were not made to keep our sustainable form of transport safe and attractive to everyone during the climate conference. This was a missed opportunity for the city to make active travel the easiest choice during a period of road closures and predicted traffic chaos around Glasgow. We outline more on that further below.
Get Ready Glasgow (the COP communications arm of Glasgow City Council) have issued the following updated map to illustrate GCCs proposed diversions.
Routes between South and West
The NCN 75/7 traffic free route beside the Clyde will be closed between the Clyde Arc (Squinty Bridge) and Castlebank Street.
Finnieston Street north of the Squinty Bridge will be closed for cycling, but pavements here will be open for walking.
The most direct route for cycling (and direct it is not!), which may include non-toucan crossings requiring cyclists to dismount will be via:
Clyde Street – North Street (NCN 756) – Elliott Street.
As well as the NCN 75/7 closure, cycling and walking paths that follow the north side of the Clydeside Expressway are expected to close for most of the duration of the conference. This affects the path between Castlebank Street, Ferry Road and Kelvinhaugh Street. Clydeside Expressway flyovers will also close.
A convoluted diversion has been suggested by Get Ready Glasgow that follows:
Beith Street – Benalder Street – Old Dumbarton Road – Yorkhill Street – Kelvinhaugh Street – Argyle Street – Corunna Street – St Vincent Crescent – Minerva Street – West Greenhill Place (west bound) – path to Finnieston Street (east bound)
A large section of Argyle Street will be closed to all vehicles (including cyclists) for other COP26 events on the 1st, 5th and 6th November (see here). This excludes the small Kelvinhaugh St to Corunna St section that is included in the cycling diversion route. The diversion as above via Old Dumbarton Road / Yorkhill Street should be used on these days.
Routes between East and West
The Bridge to Nowhere flyovers are expected to close for some of the duration of the conference (Police Scotland have not released any detail on dates/times it might be closed). This cuts the West City Way and the NCN 765 route in half at the M8.
Glasgow City Council are diverting those usually using the Waterloo Street protected lane to the following streets, which will also include non-toucan crossings requiring cyclists to dismount:
Blythswood Street – Argyle Street – Anderston Crossing – path to Finnieston Street
GoBike Petition Outcomes
Thanks to all our supporters (with a Glasgow City Council postcode, yes we know!) who signed our petition to keep active travel open during COP26, we had the opportunity to present to council committee the issues with the closures and our key asks. You can read more about how that went here.
The committee found that council officers should engage with GoBike on improvements to their proposed diversions. We sent in a map of our suggestions on how the diversion route could be shortened (using the full length of Elliott Street) and where we could see the dire need for soft segregation to make the diversions safer (such as on Argyle Street). The engagement we received was less “engaging” and more “us nudging for a response a few times and then being told what had been decided”, however part of Elliott Street has been granted and some soft segregation has been planned.
What is less than acceptable is that the full length of Elliott Street will not be signed as a cycling diversion as its west side is being used as an access point to a satellite car park and taxi/bus drop off point for delegates for the conference. This would be delegates to a conference on how to overturn climate change, for whom private car use is being given precedence over active travel in an upside down version of the transport hierarchy.
The council and partners refused to meet to discuss using some of the vast space on Finnieston Street for cycling, and officers continue to deny Equalities Impact Assessment findings by suggesting that here, people can just get off their bikes and push them.
We are relieved that our suggestion of soft separation on Argyle Street at the dangerous double right turn from Kelvinhaugh Street onto Corunna Street is going to be implemented. We have even been promised the completion of the separated bike lane on Old Dumbarton Road, although with less than two days to go and a lot of work still to be done there we won’t be betting high stakes on that happening in time.
We are not happy though, that the full diversion route is not going to be protected (such as this dangerous section of Argyle Street above), let alone meet minimum Cycling by Design guidance standards on a replacement for a traffic free route. Frankly at this stage, we aren’t even sure if the diversion signs will be up to scratch.
We’ve said this before, and we will say it again. The eyes of the world will be on our city during COP, and we had a key opportunity to demonstrate that active travel is a large part of the solution to the climate crisis we face. We believe that opportunity has now been missed. Not only will delegates be unable to reach the main conference site by bike, but people who live in and around Glasgow will find using bikes harder to get around during the conference.
We did make small gains throughout our campaign on this, and the diversion routes have been improved as a result of our hard work – thank you to our members who put their time and effort in. We wish we could have won much much more – if you are able to help us push harder and stronger next time please join us and get involved. There is clearly still so much to do in ensuring active travel gets the priority it deserves in Glasgow and beyond – we really need your help.
For now though – stay safe out there, and check the diversions!