Some Thoughts on the Proposals for the North East Active Travel Routes (NEATR)

By Alasdair Macdonald, GoBike member

I was disappointed by recent unbalanced coverage of Glasgow City Council proposals to develop North East Active Travel Routes (NEATR) in the Springburn area. Glasgow Times reported on a local group, supported by two Labour councillors, which was opposed to the plans. The reporting focused on cycle lanes on Wallacewell Road (ironically, championed by a previous Labour councillor). However, it ignored the wider plans for the area.

The proposals will connect Wallacewell Road to new lanes on Broomfield Road, Red Road and Northgate Road. In future, these could link with Petershill Drive towards Royston and Petershill Road towards Sighthill and the city centre. There are a number of primary schools in the area and NEATR will provide safer crossings. The lanes will allow some children to wheel to school by scooter or bike and the improved footways will make walking more attractive. Junctions will be redesigned so that vehicles can turn safely without inhibiting pedestrians on the footways.

I am not a resident, but I have been leading bike rides in the area for groups of asylum seekers and people who are in recovery. I use the paths in Springburn Park to build confidence, then take the groups on Wallacewell Road’s segregated cycle lanes. This helps them to get experience of riding safely alongside traffic. This one kilometre-long road provides a 2 km ride; out and back. I also have to attend clinics occasionally at Stobhill Hospital, near proposed new lanes on Broomfield Road. To block or remove the lanes would disadvantage people who want to cycle or wheel.

Crossing points

One of the major deficiencies in the Springburn area is the almost complete absence of pedestrian crossings. Wallacewell Road has a single zebra crossing at the extreme eastern end. There are no pedestrian crossings over main roads like Balornock Road, Broomfield Road and Balgrayhill Road. This a barrier to safe access to the superb Springburn Park. NEATR will provide these crossings and more.

One of the Glasgow Times pieces gave a full page to a ‘horror’ accident suffered by a local resident, who tripped on an ‘armadillo’ while crossing Wallacewell Road. He suffered a broken arm and other injuries. I wish him a full recovery. However, the Times article implicitly, but not very subtly blamed the cycling infrastructure stating that parts of the armadillo are black and not easily seen. There are, literally, thousands of kilometres of kerbs lining Glasgow’s roads as well as railings and other barriers. Everyday some people somewhere in the city trip over these, fortunately with no serious injury in most cases. But, where is the righteous demands to remove kerbs and barriers in our media?

As I indicated, Wallacewell Road has one pedestrian crossing. A street of that length with housing along it, shops, a playground, a park, a health centre, etc. ought to have at least six crossings. Had there been enough then the unfortunate gentleman may not have had to hurry across the carriageway, resulting in his misfortune.

It is disgraceful that Springburn has been so poorly provided for in terms of safer streets and crossings. I sympathise with the anger of some local people. However, focussing attacks on cycling provision on Wallacewell Road, diverts attention away from the main purpose of creating safer streets for people. They can use these to access schools, parks and green spaces, the hospital, shops, etc.

The project helps inclusion for school children, asylum seekers, people in recovery – voices not often heard in these debates. Councillors should bear that principle in mind and seek to represent all residents.