Residents, university staff and students, commuters, cycle campaigners, and adults and children who want to use bikes for travel, joined arms on University Avenue today, to tell Glasgow University and Glasgow City Council that they want segregated cycling to be installed on University Avenue. The £1b campus development has plans approved by the council that show that cycling provision on the road will be reduced to narrow strips of paint on only one side of the road, that disappear at the top of the hill, with no physical protection for people choosing to cycle on it.
People of all ages formed a human bike lane on the fading painted strips on the street. Using themselves to protect people cycling on the road from the traffic, the flash mob lane stretched up to the top of the hill, and many people rang bells and waved at passing motorists.
A student at the university, Eachann Gillies said “I’m really happy to see Glasgow University recognising that University Avenue needs a reallocation of space – more space for pedestrians definitely makes sense. However, I think the failure to provide real space for cycling is a real backwards step. I cycle up University Avenue regularly and I often have to dodge doors opening into my path, cars parked in the cycle lane and close passes whilst cycling uphill. The University should be thinking about what kind of travel it wants to enable and what kind of environment it wants to create for its students and staff. The new proposals certainly don’t look to be creating safe space for cycling”.
Iona Shepherd, co-convenor of GoBike, said “Paint is not protection, and we simply cannot accept roads being upgraded without providing safe spaces for active travel. We live in a city where almost 50% of households do not own a car. Our streets need to be safe not just for people who currently choose the bike to get around, but for all people who want to choose active travel but don’t because there is no safe linked up network available for them. University Avenue is well used by cycling staff, students and commuters, and we welcome the improvements in the scheme for pedestrians. But 37% of students at Glasgow University have said they would cycle if routes were safer, and so this project could do so much to boost active travel share if the cycling provision is right. The road is a key link in the Colleges Cycle Route and without an improvement to the plans, there will be a catastrophic failure to link up an active travel network to and from new and existing schemes on the improved designs for Byres Road, as well as Queen Margaret Drive, Connecting Woodside, and the Yorkhill and Kelvingrove Cycling Village. We need active travel to be given due priority for our city to become less congested, less polluted, healthier and safer.”
The campaign group Space for People Byres Road recently worked on pushing for improvements to Byres Road itself, where public consultation was met with overwhelming public opposition due to its lack of safe cycling provision. Euan Muir from the group attended todays protest and said “University Avenue is currently unsafe. It’s a road busy with motor traffic slicing through the centre of campus, dividing it in two. To simply cross campus requires dashing between streams of motor vehicles. The consequence of this motor induced danger was seen last year when someone was killed. Those opting to cycle are expected to mix with these motor vehicle streams which understandably few are willing to-do. The current campus development plans do little to alleviate any of these issues. And in some cases could make matters worse. Our streets should be safe such that people can cross the street with ease and feel safe to cycle.”
Thank you for all your support and presence at our protest today. GoBike have written to the university planners as well as Glasgow City Council and local councillors to call for a redesign of University Avenue that includes segregated cycle lanes on both sides of the street.