We were surprised and pleased to see yesterday that the University of Glasgow have joined other institutions by finally recognising that we are in a state of climate emergency. Clearly this will have implications for the implementation of safe sustainable travel on University Avenue and so we have written to the principle as follows:
Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli (Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Glasgow)
Anne Allen (Director of Estates & Buildings, University of Glasgow)
Dr David Duncan (Chief Operating Officer, co-chair of Sustainability Working Group, University of Glasgow)
Professor Dan Haydon (Director of the Glasgow Centre for International Development, co-chair of Sustainability Working Group, University of Glasgow)
Lauren McDougall (President of the Students’ Representative Council, University of Glasgow)
Sandra Whyte (MSP for Kelvin)
Patrick Grady (MP for Glasgow North)
Patrick Harvie (MSP for Glasgow)
Susan Aitken (Leader Glasgow City Council)
Anna Richardson (City Convener for Sustainability & Carbon Reduction)
Martha Wardrop (Chair of Glasgow City Council Climate Emergency Working Group)
Dear Professor Muscatelli,
We are writing to you in light of the public statement yesterday (Thursday 2nd May) that the University of Glasgow is declaring a Climate Emergency.
As you will no doubt be aware, transport is perhaps the most significant area in which Scotland has failed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. If Glasgow is to tackle this issue then the evidence shows that it will require a significant shift from the dominance of private motor vehicles towards walking, cycling and public transport. Therefore, we were very pleased to see that sustainable travel was recognised in your declaration of a climate emergency as one of three key areas in which you are committed to taking urgent action. As the Strathclyde Cycle Campaign we would be delighted to work with you on this in the years ahead.
However, in recognising that urgent action is required, this highlights the University’s failure to address concerns raised over the last six months by GoBike and by elected representatives regarding the redevelopment of University Avenue. While it has rightly prioritised pedestrians, the current proposals fail to provide the separated infrastructure necessary on direct routes to make it safe for people to cycle and to encourage the transformational modal shift towards cycling which is required to tackle a climate emergency.
There is growing political consensus behind the need for urgent action on cycling infrastructure in Glasgow. One of the key recommendations in the recently published report from the Glasgow Connectivity Commission chaired by Professor David Begg was:
“The completion of a network of safe, high quality, segregated cycling arterial routes connecting the city centre to suburbs and peripheral neighbourhoods.”
If the University of Glasgow is committed to urgent action on sustainable transport then we believe it must immediately review the proposals for University Avenue, one of the few public roads where it has input into the design and a genuine opportunity to influence how people travel. Failure to provide separated cycle infrastructure on this street won’t just have an impact on the University but also on the development of a wider cycle network. Given the agreed plans for Byres Road, and the aspirations for Woodlands Road, it is clear that a lack of safe cycle infrastructure on University Avenue will undermine efforts for such a network.
Therefore, we ask you to publicly commit to an immediate review of the designs for University Avenue, working with Glasgow City Council (who also recognise the climate emergency) to implement the addition of separated cycle lanes along the full length of the street and to investigate options for a reduction of motor traffic. If this isn’t urgently addressed then it will leave the declaration of a climate emergency as hollow words rather than a commitment to action and leave University Avenue as a monument to this inaction.
Strathclyde Cycle Campaign