In the second of two blog posts we would like to introduce our other new co-convenor – Iona Shepherd. As you may know, GoBike is undergoing a change in convenorship, as Trisha has decided to take a small step back after many hardworking and fruitful years as Convenor. We are deeply thankful that she has agreed to continue working on the ‘Consultations’ side of GoBike, and look forward to new horizons with her still on board. Here’s Iona:
“Cycling is going to change the world. Er, hold on you say, that’s a bit much isn’t it? Well, it changed my world in the little part of it I started really using a bike to get around in, here in Glasgow, and I truly believe that that can extend to the rest of the world. When I first realised that through travelling by bike, I could ditch the crowded bus, avoid the congestion, yet get to work faster and still not have to go to the gym in the evenings, my opportunities and horizons were opened up and suddenly I’d grown wings. I no longer had to worry about travel timetables, I had the freedom to go wherever I wanted to, by whatever route I chose, and I could stop off wherever took my whim. And I saved so much money on travelling around the city that it meant I could buy even more bikes! Oh and there’s more, I was fitter, healthier, energised and happy in the knowledge that I wasn’t impacting on the environment. And my happiness was fed further by all these other wonderful people on bikes, who’d chat about the weather at traffic lights, encourage me at locking stands, and nod conspiratorial hellos when out on the road. Cycling has given me absolute freedom.
I am aware though, that if you cycle in the West of Scotland you will know all of this, because these are the things that keep people here riding, because as you will also know, riding a bike here can often be really tough. The cycling infrastructure we have is few and far between, and the design and maintenance of what little we do have is decades behind the forward thinking cities in Europe. Our cycle paths tend to meander the long way round through back streets, taking us away from our desire lines of travel. What we need are direct routes if people are going to see cycling as a viable transport option. Direct routes such as the ill-fated and incomplete Bearsway that needed and failed to find brave political decisions to take space away from the motorist. We have a proliferation of shared use paths as the majority share of our cycling network. Shared use paths put people walking and cycling into conflict, they create confusion, they disappear as invisibly as they appear, and are simply not a good design for cycling speeds. Yet even now they are being built as standard into new infrastructure in areas like Govan Fastlink. Cycling around our networks, it is clear that very few of our paths join up, and we are often spat out with no consideration into busy roads. Some roads provide non-enforcable bike lanes in paint, often in the door zone, offering no protection and in many ways actually putting us in greater danger. Maintenance of the parts of the network we do have is given very low priority within our councils, where leaves can render some parts unusable during Autumn, ice, the same during Winter, and glass, potholes and parking are rife within our cycling spaces during the rest of the year. Our car-centric provision and attitudes can make folk on bikes feel very unwelcomed on our roads. Put in short, it’s not always pretty out there.
But things are slowly improving, thanks in a large part to cycling campaigners in organisations such as GoBike who have given up their free time and put in masses of work and effort into fighting for cycling to be considered and for better design. It is starting to feel like our voices are being heard in parliament and by some forward thinking councillors, and even out on the roads I am starting to see a difference not only in the improved design of lanes such as the South West City Way, but in the number of cyclists out using them all year round. I’m so excited that one of my main commuting routes up Victoria Road is soon to become a segregated cycle lane. There are big plans afoot for more people friendly spaces all over the city, in Woodlands, Battlefield, Byres Road, Queen Margaret Drive, and many others. We have our hands full making sure that these plans have our needs properly met, but that’s a good thing, and it’s why we need your input. Already we have intrepid GoBike members out there working hard on mini-campaigns such as Space for People Byres Road, and Friends of the South City Way. This coming year we are going to need you all to get more involved and if you feel like you can be a part of our movement, you can help by joining our membership and having your head counted to make our voice more significant. Get involved in our conversation on Slack (drop us an email expressing your interest), you can help us write to councillors, show them your local roads, respond to consultations, like and share our social media, write us a blog, tell your friends about us, and engage in some real world action like the Ride for a Better Byres Road. We’d also love to know what you would like to see from us, and how you think we can improve as a campaign. Let us know your feedback and ideas – both Dave and I can be reached on convenors at gobike dot org .
It’s clear that these positive changes we are starting to see are going to take time to manifest onto our roads, and while that happens, people on bikes are facing challenges on a daily basis. I too face these daily challenges and that is a part of what gives me the push to want to fight harder to make the changes better and make them happen faster. I know that my co-convening sidekick Dave also faces similar regular challenges out on the road, and having already worked closely with him on projects like Pedal on Parliament, and Friends of Bearsway, I’ve seen how his energy, smart thinking and innovative approach can be of a huge benefit to pushing campaigns forward. I hope that by working together Dave and I can continue to lead GoBike forward as a force to be reckoned with.
So can cycling really change our world? In a country where 26% of us are living in poverty and 91% of low income families do not own a car, yet our roads are congested and overloaded and our health is putting pressure on the NHS to breaking point, I think the answer has to be yes. I believe that campaigns like GoBike will help to bring about a turning point towards a more utopian and people friendly way of living for us all. Dave and I are both really super excited about becoming co-convenors of GoBike and hope that you can help us guide you to change the West of Scotland to become better for people of all ages and all sizes, on and not yet on bikes. Thanks for having us along for the ride!”
In the first of two blog posts we would like to introduce one of our new Co-Convenors – Dave Brennan. As you may know, GoBike is undergoing a change in convenorship, as Trisha has decided to take a small step back after many hardworking and fruitful years as Convenor. We are deeply thankful that she has agreed to continue working on the ‘Consultations’ side of GoBike, and look forward to new horizons with her still on board. David, it’s over to you:
“When I am talking to someone in my cycle campaigning capacity I often find myself saying, ‘Current cyclists cycle despite the conditions, not because of them’. With a small adjustment that saying accurately describes the world of cycle campaigning up until very recently:
Many campaigners have campaigned for better cycle infrastructure, despite the political conditions, certainly not because of them!
For many years the ‘political will’ has not existed for the changes required to bring active travel to the masses. Many politicians in the past have given short shrift to the idea of adjusting the balance of the environment, away from the motor vehicle and towards more sustainable transport. The car has very much been the king in Glasgow and the surrounding areas for many years with the M8 being the greatest monument to the cause.
Despite a very unfavourable environment, campaign groups like GoBike have worked tirelessly over the years to try and improve the lot of those who chose alternative forms of transport. It’s been tough, and whilst the victories haven’t been widespread, there have been victories.
When I helped to set up the Pedal on Parliament campaign back in 2012, I got a taste of that environment, having attended a meeting where a transport minister almost shouted at us for not praising his pitiful attempts at ‘driver education’, and another meeting where a Glasgow councillor stated that he would never set a percentage of the transport budget aside for active travel, as long as he was in post.
However, even back in 2012, the environment was changing. The Times were actively campaigning for better infrastructure, City of Edinburgh Council were starting to talk about a big change in policy. The political environment was changing, all be it slowly.
Fast forward to today and we find ourselves in a very different situation. We have an Environment Minister who not only talks a good game, but actually puts his money where his mouth is. We have the council in Edinburgh spending 10% of its transport budget on active travel, and we have a Glasgow council that actually rates active travel and the local environment high up on its priority list.
Things are far from rosy of course. Edinburgh is still making significant design mistakes in its proposals, ‘Bikelash’ is a very real thing (I know this personally from East Dunbartonshire and Bears Way), and there are still areas where paint is seen as an adequate solution. However, the debate has well and truly moved on, with the vast majority of new cycle lane design proposals including segregated infrastructure. That just did not happen 10 years ago.
The campaign discussion itself has also moved on, and more and more we are talking about ‘place’ and ‘people friendly’, rather than focusing on just the cycle infrastructure. It’s not about catering for cyclists, its about catering for people and enabling people to make their own decisions on which mode of transport suits a particular journey, and making sure that that mode is catered for.
Personally I’ve been lucky with my timing. Pedal on Parliament was a great achievement and all of us involved should be proud of what we achieved, but that only happened because there were also improvements in the political environment. It also feels like I am lucky in my timing for being accepted as Co-Convener of GoBike along with Iona. Glasgow is in a great position to make big strides over the next few years. Those that came before us have not been so lucky.
Thus, I think it is entirely appropriate to say that Iona and I, ‘stand on the shoulders of campaigning giants’. We are truly thankful to Tricia and all those who have been working hard in GoBike for many years, who have helped bring us to this point today.
We must not, though, be complacent. As demonstrated in Bears Way, something I will be revisiting in the future, there will be trouble along the way and we must prepare for that. As well as being willing to criticise the bad, we must be willing to praise the good, and to help our politicians to make the difficult decisions. We must also understand that not every decision will be exactly what we want, and we must accept that there will be a compromise or two along the way.
However, I am excited to be jointly at the helm of GoBike at what is undoubtedly an exciting time. I am particularly excited to be working with Iona, who I worked with in organising PoP Glasgow. Iona is full of fantastic ideas (far more then me!) and has the drive to take them forward. Along with Iona, and of course the rest of the GoBike team, I will strive to work with councillors and council officers to ensure that we get the best value for our money and the highest quality possible in Glasgow and the surrounding areas. I also aim to encourage more hyperlocal campaigns such as Friends of Bears Way, which will benefit from the backing of GoBike.
How are we going to achieve this? With your help. GoBike is only as good as its membership, so if you care about anything I’ve written about above, join us. Join as a member , join the conversation on Slack (drop us an email at convenor at gobike dot org to ask for a Slack invite) and spread the word to cyclist and non-cyclist alike, that Glasgow has the potential to be so much greater than it is already.
Together we can help to put people and people friendly environments back at the heart of our communities.”
We have got to know about this year’s European Cycling Challenge whereby all of us cycling in Glasgow – and the surrounding areas (new for this year) can record our cycle journeys. GoBike has mapped the data from last year, which ties in well with Strava data and Glasgow City Council cordon count data, and has presented this evidence of where people cycle – and thus where we need good quality cycle infrastructure – to none less than the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf.
“This year’s European Cycling Challenge will be even bigger and better than last year.
With involvement of all neighbouring local authorities, this years challenge will be inclusive of all your commute, leisure and utility riding.
Whether cycling from East Kilbride to Glasgow, along to Croy station to get the train to Glasgow or Edinburgh, just along Byres Road, or on the Bears Way, all your journeys will count!
There are also over 120 prizes for best riders and prize draws throughout just for taking part and getting out on your bike.
To launch the challenge and encourage people to start to sign up, we will host a launch event on Saturday April 15th 11:00 – 13:00.
This will take place at the Winter Gardens at Glasgow Green. This should help many of you get there as it’s right on the NCN 75 with good connection to all areas.
To promote the sign up for the event we will have photocalls for those who want to show off their bikes, freebies including this year’s edition of snap bands and saddle covers, and prize draws on the day for cycling equipment.
We will also have a Dr Bike to make sure your bike is the finely tuned machine you deserve.
Light refreshments will be available between 11:00 and 13:00.
So get out on your bike, come along alone or with family, get some freebies and lets show Europe that in the Clyde Valley area, cycling is for everyone!
If you intend in coming along, please email back so that we can estimate refreshments and supplies.
So do get there if you can – lots of the usual “freebies”, ie paid for by us, the taxpayers! Seriously, though, we need the data of where we all cycle. So do map your rides, preferably all year round with Strava since we have access to the data (depersonalised) or just for May with this European Cycling Challenge.
Show that you support the space for cycling that we need – and we need the extension of the Bears Way – by joining this GoBike ride out to the Allander, via Kirkintilloch and Milngavie. If that’s too much, do please join the ride on the Bears Way. Details in the link to the Friends of the Bears Way, see below:
Sunday 6 November – Strathblane Railway Path & Bears Way (amendment) This month we have a quick ride out along the Forth & Clyde Canal to Kirkintilloch, followed by the Strathkelvin Railway Path to Strathblane, and then via minor roads over the hill to Milngavie. After lunch in a local café, we shall proceed to the Allander Centre to join the Bears Way Advocacy Ride due to start at 1.30pm. Meet 10am Bell’s Bridge, Congress Road, Glasgow.
It was the SNP and Liberals who voted against! The SNP, in government at Holyrood, who support, so we hear, the aim of 10% of journeys being by bike by 2020! If you live in the area, please write to your councillor – apparently some of them have never had a communication in support of the cycle route. The car lobby has won this battle but we must make sure they don’t win the war (of words).
We publish below an e-mail from East Dunbartonshire councillor, Manjinder Singh. If you haven’t been involved already please do try to get to tonight’s public event or the information session this afternoon. Failing that, do write to the Council to voice support. We need routes like this, please give your support.
Hundreds of people attended a public forum on phase two of the A81 Bears Way project last Thursday. It was standing-room only in Milngavie Town Hall with around 250 people hearing more about the potential future of the cycleway – which offers protected space for people of all ages to cycle in safety and comfort. After a delay to the start of the meeting due to the numbers attending, a presentation lasting around half an hour was delivered. Members of the audience were then offered an opportunity to ask questions and give their views directly to the project team – including representatives of the Council and Sustrans – for around an hour and a half. Earlier on Thursday there had been a well-attended drop-in information event in the Allander Leisure Centre. A second public forum is being held on Wednesday 7 September, 7pm-9pm, in Milngavie Town Hall. Meanwhile, further drop-in sessions will be held in Allander Leisure Centre on Saturday 3 September, 11am-3pm, and Wednesday 7 September, noon – 2pm.
Please note these are informal sessions and a chance for the public to access information ahead of the public forum.
There was a fantastic turn-out at the first public forum on phase two of the Bears Way and I want to thank everyone who took the time to listen, ask questions and make their views known.It was, however, disappointing to hear of the lack of courtesy extended to Council employees and partners by a small number of the audience. Such behaviours are not acceptable in any forum. It’s important that all points of view are taken into account and respected, and that everyone has the opportunity to make a contribution, supportive or not. There was a range of views expressed on the night – from people in favour of the cycleway and significant investment in the area to those with concerns about phase one and ways in which they would wish to see it improved – through to others who expressed in-principle disagreement with the model of a dedicated separate cycle way.
Phase 1 of the Bears Way – funded by delivery partners Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and Sustrans – runs from Burnbrae roundabout to Hillfoot.
· Phase 1 of the Bears Way was recently recognised for ‘Achievements in Cycling’ at the Scottish Transport Awards.
· The Council’s Local Transport Strategy and Active Travel Strategy set out a range of actions aimed at encouraging cycling in East Dunbartonshire. Work supports the national vision of getting 10% of everyday journeys to be made by bike by 2020.
Regards Councillor Manjinder Shergill
Vice Convenor of Education
East Dunbartonshire Council
12 Strathkelvin Place
Tel: 0141 578 8163
East Dunbartonshire Council are now busy consulting on both Phase 1 (constructed) and Phase 2 (at the design stage) of the ambitious A81 Bears Way segregated route. They have written to GoBike, and others, requesting views on 2 questions relating to Phase 1. Their letter and the GoBike response are on our Consultations page, but we repeat the 2 questions and our response here:
“Question 1: Can you confirm your support for the principle of the Bears Way in line with your strategic priorities?
GoBike response: The principle of the Bears Way is very definitely in line with our strategic priorities. One of our prime aims is to campaign for a cycling network designed and constructed to current best practices. The Bears Way contributes significantly to this. It is in general, well-designed, and it encourages people of all ages and abilities to cycle. It is on a major commuting route and thus of valuable use to people who are travelling to work and college, as well as being of use for tourists and general trips to the shops etc.
Question 2: Has the Bears Way had any positive or negative impacts on your operations?
GoBike response: The Bears Way has had notable positive benefits for us. Our members and supporters are now able to cycle this short length in far greater safety than before, when they had to dodge around parked cars and moving motor traffic. It has encouraged people to get back on bikes that they hadn’t used for years and it has encouraged adults to take children out cycling. The only negative aspects for us are the short length of the route and the connectivity at the ends; we look forward to the route continuing as primarily a segregated route both to the north and the south.”
Phase 2, proposed to run from Hillfoot to Kessington (ie towards the Glasgow boundary) is now out for consultation, full details are given on the East Dunbartonshire Council website:
Two GoBike members will be meeting East Dunbartonshire Council (EDC) staff on Tuesday 23 August and will attend a Consultation Event (invite only) in Milngavie on Thursday 25 August.
Public consultation is now open. Details are given on the EDC website: https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/bearsway and EDC have taken out advertising features in the press. THEY WANT YOUR COMMENTS, so please respond. Also, please get your comments back to GoBike so that we can put forward your views this week and during the ongoing process.