Glasgow City Council Transport Summit, 27 September 2017 – GoBike report

GoBike was invited to attend the recent Transport Summit held by Glasgow City Council, and was represented there by 3 committee members, John Donnelly, Peter Hayman and Alasdair Macdonald.  Here is Alasdair’s report of the proceedings:

This summit was organised by Glasgow City Council and was chaired by Councillor Anna Richardson, Convenor for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, assisted by the Director for Roads.

There were presentations by Council officers, Transport Scotland, representatives of the bus and rail industries, an academic, charities/campaigning groups Sustrans and Transform Scotland and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

In the audience there were campaigning groups like GoBike! and Get Glasgow Moving, representatives from a number of Community Councils and representatives
from the haulage industry as well as Councillors representing Greens, Labour and
SNP.

The keynote speaker was Iain Docherty BSc PhD CMILT who is Professor of Public Policy and Governance and Head of Management at the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School. His presentation set the tone for the remainder of the proceedings. Although he was careful to ensure that his speech was academically rigorous and carefully qualified, he was pretty explicit that dealing with issues relating to private cars and parking is the major factor in improving transport in Glasgow. This was echoed by most of the subsequent speakers, with no-one making a counterargument. 

There was widespread agreement in the room that something needs to be done about cars in Glasgow.  It was only the 2 Glasgow City Council Officials who said “This was not about penalising car drivers”.  Almost every other speaker highlighted that the only way to improve transport in Glasgow involved making changes that would reduce the number of cars in Glasgow. 

I had not heard people in positions of influence being so unequivocal and so explicit. A memorable, line, slightly tongue-in-cheek was that with white paint to repartition road space and amendments to traffic light crossing times, Glasgow could make a significant improvement relatively quickly!

However, while that might be a way forward, it is an intensely POLITICAL thing and therefore those of us who wish to bring about change must be supportive of politicians in creating the ethos in which such changes can take place. The motoring organisations will not take this lying down. While it is important that campaigners push for good infrastructure constructed to good standards, we also need to work constructively and co-operatively with elected members and officers to bring about the change.

Compared to ‘peer cities’ in Europe, such as Malmo and Bremen, levels of cycling in Glasgow are very low, but rising, and the number of car journeys is INCREASING. So, we have to get people out of cars and on to their feet, on to bicycles and on to trains and buses. The importance of buses cannot be overstated. They account for more than twice the journeys compared to all other modes. While there are improvements to rail services underway and advocacy for an extended Subway, in the short and intermediate term, it is buses that will carry most of the people who are ‘persuaded’ to leave their cars.

A related point was the fact that organisations like the bus industry and the Chambers of Commerce, feel we need no more NEW road building, but that we would be better improving (and repartitioning?) the road network that we currently have.

The issues relating to buses are about emissions, about the lack of services across the city rather than through the city, single-ticketing using modern technology. SPT indicated that the transfer-ticketing issue is likely to be solved soon. Retrofitting of buses to the highest EU standard for emissions is feasible with current technology, but the question is, ‘Who pays?” Recent amendments to Union/Jamaica St appear to have speeded transition of buses through that route. Nevertheless, there is still work to be done.

Improvements to Queen Street Station and electrification of Glasgow/Edinburgh should improve things, but, at present, there are no plans for Crossrail.

The Chamber of Commerce made a strong case for developing Glasgow Airport as an economic generator. Renfrewshire Council’s City Deal is focussed on the Airport, but from a cycling and walking perspective, there are substantial benefits associated with it.

It was a pretty well-informed meeting. We were provided with a lot of information. But, to the credit of the presenters, I think they were pretty succinct. There was also a fair degree of coherence amongst the presentations, despite them coming from quite a wide range of sources. There were a number of opportunities for discussion and almost all the contributions were from community councils and campaigning bodies. The standard of debate was high and courteous.

I give the Council high marks for organising this event. it was heavily led by the transport professionals, but I think they were respectful of their audience. I think we need a follow up meeting where the audience represents ALL the community councils, and the various community organisations and campaigners like GoBike!

Bill Fraser (a GoBike! member, community council chair and member of a local ‘hertage’ group) has some interesting ideas about community innovation using organisations which are NOT the community council but are closely related to them (for legal reasons). Bill could give a good presentation to the target audience I have indicated.

Glasgow Councillor Tour 3, part of Partick East/Kelvindale with Conservative Councillor, Tony Curtis

GoBike member, Johnston Orr, trying to cycle along the Colleges Cycle route on Highburgh Road towards Byres Road.  Note the car encroaching on the very narrow door opening zone and the car parked right across the bike lane!

On Saturday 23 September, GoBike convenor, Tricia Fort, and Johnston Orr met one of Partick East/Kelvindale’s 4 councillors, Tony Curtis, Conservative, for a short tour of the ward – but lots of discussion.  Tony is very keen that all road users obey the Highway Code and relevant legislation, behave responsibly and respect each other, follow guidance when it comes to staying safe on a bike and he is keen to get Police Scotland to address parking and speeding infringements.

Our route was from outside the bar/restaurant 1051GWR on Great Western Road at Gartnavel, up to Highburgh Road and along into Hyndland and Dowanhill. The points discussed concerning cycle infrastructure were:

  1. The possibility of a cycle link from the western end of Devonshire Terrace through to the front of bar/restaurant1051GWR; this would allow people to cycle from Devonshire Terrace along the existing footway, if it were cleared of vegetation and widened, to access Hughenden Lane or Shelley Road.
  2. The reduced hours of operation of the bus lanes on Great Western Road and the lack of any cycle infrastructure on this major artery into the city centre.
  3. Hyndland Road from Great Western Road to the top of Clarence Drive; this is a main route, as Tony pointed out, and yet there is no cycle infrastructure.
  4. The poor condition of many roads, and many cycle lanes, in the city, and in this ward.
  5. The positioning of the cycle lanes on Hyndland/Highburgh Road from Clarence Drive: currently the cycle lanes are on the outside of parking bays.  The door opening zone is too narrow, only 0.5m rather than a realistic 1.0m, and many cars were poorly parked, encroaching on the narrow door opening zone.
  6. Irresponsible parking, such as right across the cycle lane.
  7. The confusion of the signs on Dowanhill Street; had there been cycle lanes here previously?  (And why was one car parked facing the wrong way on a one-way street?)
  8. The apparent contradiction between Glasgow City Council’s policy and action on one-way streets, particularly those streets that are changed from two-way to one-way ostensibly to allow parking on both sides, with respect to maintaining access for people to cycle.  The references here are: Glasgow City Council’s Strategic Plan for Cycling, page 28 referencing their use of Transport Scotland’s design guide, Cycling by Design which states in section 5.1.5 on page 52, under Contra-flow Cycle Lanes, that “The default position should be to permit two-way cycling on one-way streets.”  This is very pertinent for areas such as Dowanhill, where two-way streets have been made one-way under new parking regulations, and for Partick, where new parking regulations – and new one-way streets – are about to be introduced.  This means some significant detours for people who wish to cycle.
  9. GoBike’s view is that cycle infrastructure should be provided where people cycle and our analysis of Strava and other cycle-counting data is here on our website.  Great Western Road, as a main artery into the city centre, has significant numbers of people cycling along it, as does Byres Road, on the edge of this ward, but neither has any cycle infrastructure.

Partick East/Kelvindale is currently the home of the most cycle-interested councillors in the city.  All four councillors have responded to our invitation to walk or cycle round their ward!  There has been a nil response from many other wards.

Glasgow Councillor Ward tour 2, Garnethill in Ward 10 with Green Councillor, Christy Mearns

The photo, taken by GoBike committee member, Peter Hayman, shows Councillor Christy Mearns and GoBike member, Tim Pearson, having just crossed St George’s Road and about to tour Garnethill on Friday 22 September.  Tim’s brief report of what was a lot of discussion and a detailed tour of the area is here: Garnethill Ward Bike Tour 22 Sept 2017

Details of all our tours are here on our website: http://www.gobike.org/campaignsconsultations/projects/glasgow-councillors-summer-autumn-2017

Glasgow Councillors tour their wards with us, Tour 1 Maryhill and Hillhead

Further to our letter to all Glasgow Councillors in June, our first tour took place on Friday 15 September 2017, with Councillors Jane Morgan, Maryhill ward, Labour (in yellow above) and Martha Wardrop, Hillhead ward, Green (behind GoBike committee member, Alasdair Macdonald).  The photo above was taken on Striven Gardens, where leaf-fall and parked cars, plus mis-placed bollards further along can impede good cycle access.

We were able to discuss many items on the tour, such as cars parked in bike lanes, the need for dropped kerbs to facilitate access for bikes, as well as prams etc, plus the need for good cycle infrastructure on Maryhill Road.  Details of the tour, as well as the map of the route are shown here .  It was an excellent way to get our message across to two councillors and we look forward to meeting other councillors over the forthcoming weeks.

Get off the road!”, a GoBike member’s View on Parking, Private Property and Cycle Facilities

We reproduce below the submitted text of a Herald newspaper Agenda item, written by GoBike member, Bob Downie, and  published in the Herald today.  It is just possible that the car owning populace of the land might not like this article, so if you agree with it then please get your letter of support into the Herald now!  Bob has written the item in a personal capacity but we are pleased to publish the views of GoBike members if they are generally in line with our aims. The printed text, as in the Herald, is given here: http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/15483256.Agenda__On_street_parking_should_not_be_at_the_expense_of_cycling_infrastructure/

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“When on your bike, how many times do you hear the phrase “get off the road!”, followed by a barbed statement along the lines of “roads are for cars and you can get your toy onto the pavement”? The answer is more often than many of us would like. Being the mature adults that we are, we sadly shake our heads and cycle on. It is to be hoped that the holders of such ideas will in time pass on to the great motorway in the sky, and be replaced by a younger generation more used to the idea that one’s transport mode depends on the journey, walking, cycling, driving or public transport as the circumstance dictates. We can dream.

However, even enlightened urban car owners consider that they have an absolute right to park on the street outside their property. As a campaigner for improvements in the cycling environment in Glasgow, I keep bumping up against the refusal to install any cycling infrastructure because it could only be built at the expense of on-street parking. This factor, possibly more than any other is the primary reason why we do not, and possibly cannot, have good quality, protected cycle lanes in our fine city.

The desire to park on the road close to one’s property is perfectly understandable, but let us step back and ask the fundamental question, what is a road and what is its function? The online Oxford English defines a road as “a wide way leading from one place to another, especially one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles can use”. The Collins dictionary offers “a road is a long piece of hard ground which is built between two places so that people can drive or ride easily from one place to the other”. However, the most important definition is the Road Traffic Act 1988 which states “a road physically should have the character of a definable route, with ascertainable edges, and that leads from one point to another to enable travellers to move conveniently from one point to another along that route”.

The essence of all the above definitions is that a road is constructed route that people can use to travel by vehicle from one place to another, the RTA of 1988 adding the term “move conveniently”. What is conspicuously missing from any definition of “road” is that it is a place to store your priv2ate property. Now call me picky, but what is a car if not private property?

It thus seems that we cannot have the network of safe, connected cycle infrastructure in Glasgow that we so urgently need, because of the priority given to allowing people to store their private property on the public road. I have no fundamental desire to stop parking where there is room to do so without impeding traffic, but cyclists are every bit as much traffic as are motor vehicles and it is wrong to deny them safe, segregated routes by preferentially prioritising parking. Glasgow, like all urban areas, needs a cycle revolution. The pent-up desire is huge but until safe infrastructure is created the desire will never be satisfied for the many would-be cyclists intimidated by sharing roads with motor vehicle.

So, on-street parking is fine, but should be given the lowest priority and allowed only after the needs of all traffic, including cycling, are satisfied. Roads are routes to travel on and not places to store personal property. I say, “Get the parked cars off the road” and allow the cycle traffic to flow.”

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Parking controls and 20mph for Partick but no contraflow cycling on one-way streets.

Glasgow City Council are currently consulting on a Traffic Regulation Order to introduce a mandatory 20mph speed limit in a significant number of streets in Partick, see https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=18127  This follows earlier proposals to “manage” parking, which introduced some new one-way streets.  Unfortunately parking is still being allowed to a significant extent on many streets, to such an extent in fact that the Council refuse to allow contraflow cycling on these streets.  This is despite contraflow cycling on one-way streets being the default position in the design guide the Council uses, Cycling by Design!  Further details on our Consultations page and our Design Guides page.  Our letter of support for the 20mph proposal includes our concerns: GoBike Partick 20mph support with concern 100717

We have also responded to on-line consultations for Glasgow City Council’s proposed Mini-Holland scheme (details were on view on 23 June), the Green Party’s ambitious proposals to update their active travel policy and the future of the Walk, Cycle, Vote campaign.  We have supported a minor proposal from Glasgow City Council to control parking on Havannah Street/Duke Street.  See our Consultations page for details.

On-street Car Parking – let’s get it sorted – respond to this Scottish Government Consultation

Scottish Government — Improving Parking in Scotland consultation
Deadline: 30 June
The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on responsible parking. Among other things, It invites views on how to provide greater clarity of the laws on parking, and how to stop issues such as pavement parking. To read the consultation, see here. Living Streets Scotland have also put together a consultation response for members of the public to join the call to end pavement parking.
This appears to be prevarication on the part of the Scottish Government in response to the Pavement Parking bill put forward by Sandra White SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin.  The car lobby is obviously very powerful, but random, irresponsible parking is damaging our towns and cities – and our lives.  Please respond to the consultation and let’s get our pavements clear for walking and our cycle lanes clear for cycling.