We’ve got wind of potentially terrible news for University Avenue, and in other bad news, the Bears Way cycle route through Bearsden is under ongoing attack, with the latest move by East Dunbartonshire Council to extend car parking at Milngavie Station, rather than extend the Bears Way. It needs its friends back. In other news Glasgow City Council have rejected yet another plea for northbound cycling on Union Street, but read on for more news, some of it good.
Here’s the bridge with three names: Clyde Arc, Finnieston and Squinty and it’s currently sending us a bit squinty. There have been several changes in the traffic regime over the bridge since it was built with a recent one being the inclusion of bikes on the Fastlink bus lanes on the west side, but now Glasgow City Council propose to also allow taxis. Oh dear. See our detailed response in item 1.8. We also have lots more for you in this digest, including the contrasting GoBike responses to Byres Road and South City Way, so do please read on. Continue reading “Consultation Digest Issue 11, Going squinty about the Squinty Bridge, Byres Road submission, 20mph, parking etc etc”
Ziya Kocabiyik, originally from Turkey, but currently living in Chelmsford, near London, is a member of Amnesty International and has set off today, 04 May, to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats, to raise awareness of human rights issues in Turkey. When he arrives just south of Glasgow next Wednesday, 09 May, Ziya will be met in Hamilton by GoBike and Amnesty member, Jimmy Keenan, with whom he will be staying the night, in Uddingston, before cycling the 130 miles to Fort William on the 10th.
Happy New Year to all of you! Feeling overindulged and in need of some air in your lungs? Well GoBike has the thing for you… Did you know that we run monthly cycle rides showing routes in and outwith the Glasgow area? Oh yes we do, and we’d love you to join us.
Our next ride is this Sunday 7th January and takes in a 15 mile safari around the inner city, with our annual review of Glasgow’s cycle infrastructure. Planned and led by Andy Preece, each monthly ride has a different destination – see our Cycle Rides section on the website for more info or check out the events pages on our Facebook.
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.”
On Saturday 11th November 2017, GoBike members Bob Downie and Andy Winter, and Rumina Kakati (who leads rides enjoyed by new, nervous and lapsed cyclists) met with Allan Young, the Green councillor for Govan ward, to go on a tour of some of the cycle facilities in the ward. Committee member Brenda Lillicrap organised the ride but was prevented from doing all but the start of the tour by a puncture. We were delighted that Allan was available to come out with us and hope that the other three ward councillors will be able to come for a similar tour in future. The invitation remains open . Our route took us out and back from Cessnock subway station, past Bell’s Bridge, the Science Centre, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Govan centre, all the while critiquing the cycle facilities we saw and used, good and bad.
Our start was in Walmer Crescent, a short one-way street with slow traffic, no junctions, and a sharp corner at both ends – ideal for the council’s declared default of permitting contraflow cycling on one-way streets. Not yet though.
Picture 1, shown above: Start – Govan Ward 5 Tour 11/11/17, Rumina Kakati, Allan Young, Andy Winter and Bob Downie at Cessnock Station
Picture 2Map Route taken on Govan Ward 5 tour 11/11/17. Numbered points refer to photograph locations below
Our route initially took us north on the signed Cycle Route 7 along Cessnock Street, Brand Street – now with perpendicular parking for the new flats along the south side, a potential hazard for cyclists on this well-used route – and Govan Road. We able to see the ‘improvements’ being made connected with Fastlink. We wondered about the value of spending money on a grade-separated cycleway alongside a road where the only permitted traffic is buses and taxis – and there aren’t any bus routes. There are much stronger candidate areas for cycle infrastructure spending even when the funding is ring-fenced for work connected with Fastlink.
Our first major hurdle was where Govan Road joins Pacific Drive. At these traffic lights, cyclists are invited to behave like pedestrians and cross Pacific Drive to cycle westward on the north-side pavement. To cross, cyclists must wait for 3 individual sets of pedestrian controlled lights, the first to cross the two lanes of the Fastlink bus corridor (not available for cycle use), followed by lights for each lane of ordinary traffic. The presence of extensive pedestrian barriers makes crossing by more than 2-3 bikes at a time very difficult. The experienced cyclists will almost certainly ignore the invitation to use this crossing and travel westward on the road. Those new to cycling (or with tandems, trailers or cargo bikes) are discouraged by tight turns made more difficult by poles, railings and control boxes, especially when there are pedestrians or other cyclists to consider.
While manoeuvring the crossing we agreed that plans to designate the footway on the south side for shared use (right through the bus shelter, and next to the sparsely used Fastlink carriageway) were a frustratingly marginal improvement, and we wondered why no effort had been made to route cyclists behind the Village Hotel to get toward’s Bells Bridge. There is already a crossing across Pacific Drive opposite the Bell’s Bridge path, albeit one offset from the desire line and with yet more barrier/pole/box obstacles.
Picture 3CrossToPavement We were invited to behave as pedestrians and use the pavement on the north side of Pacific Drive (point 1 on map)
It was generally agreed that the new path from Pacific Drive to Bell’s Bridge then continuing along the river in front of the BBC and the Science Centre was excellent. We wished it were possible for the riverside path to extend eastwards under the Clyde Arc Bridge. Back at Govan Road we continued westward and on to Golspie Street, which was re-engineered to accommodate the Fastlink carriageway. This gives it the appearance of a fast dual-carriageway, by-pass type of road, with its absence of active frontages and sweeping turns at the junctions. With the two directions of normal traffic using the single non-Fastlink carriageway it feels like a hostile piece of road for cyclists. This section is difficult to avoid for east-west travel because of the barrier of the lines into the subway depot. The layout of the both junctions on this stretch encourages drivers to make fast left turns, with the potential for left-hooking cyclists. The extensive pedestrian barriers at the junction with Harmony Row hem cyclists in in a manner that is worrying. There is nowhere for cyclists to escape if cars come too near.
Picture 4Barriers Extensive barriers at the junction of Golspie Street and Harmony Row (point 2 on map)
A newish, good quality pedestrian-cycle route took us the 200m from Golspie Street to Langlands Road. This was free of motor traffic and wide enough for cyclists and pedestrian to easily pass in both directions. A useful improvement would be a dropped kerb at the eastern end to allow easy access for west-bound cyclists without having to mingle with pedestrians at the pelican crossing.
Picture 5SharedPath Using the Golspie Street to Langlands Road cycle/pedestrian route (point 3 on map)
On Langlands Road significant sections of the advisory cycle lanes, only denoted by painted lines, were blocked by parked cars on both sides of the road. We understand these painted lanes form part of the ‘active travel access’ for the newly enlarged hospital. Allowing parking in cycle lanes shows that cyclists lack any real status on Glasgow’s roads. Cycle users deserve better.
Picture 6CarsInBikeLane Cars parked in the Langlands Road cycle lane (point 4 on map)
We carried on along Langlands Road to the underpass beneath the A739, the busy dual carriageway leading to the Clyde Tunnel. This underpass gives cycle access to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, but the large amount of graffiti and general feel of dilapidation gives it an edgy feel. This is not a facility most people would like to use at night.
Picture 7Graffiti Pedestrian/cycle underpass beneath the A739 to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. A highly graffitied and unwelcoming place (point 5 on map)
The feeling of dilapidation continued on the west side of the A739 where the first entrance to the hospital had no dropped kerb as well as being very rough, and needing another tight turn to negotiate the bollards in the underpass entrance.
Picture 8HospEntrance Off-putting entrance to the QEUH. Note the lack of dropped kerb (point 6 on map)
We continued north beside the A739 on an excellent shared pedestrian/cycle path which continued along Moss Road. At the junction with Peninver Drive a new pedestrian/cycle crossing has been installed but the timing of the lights was so slow (about 3 minutes) that no one was inclined to wait and we all took the chance to cross when the traffic appeared clear. The timing of these lights needs to be reviewed.
Picture 9LongWait Very slow timing of the lights allowing cycle crossing from Moss Road to Peninver Drive (point 7 on map)
Onward to Govan Road where we noted that parking was allowed by the shops near the junction with Holmfauldhead Place. We were told that this parking can at times cause significant congestion leading to cyclists being squeezed on the road, with drivers overtaking without allowing sufficient space.
Picture 95ParkingSqueeze Govan Road near the junction with Holmfauldhead Place. A busy road restricted by allowing on-street parking. Cyclists get squeezed here (point 8 on map)
A major problem in this area is the difficulty that south-going cyclists have turning west along Govan Road when they exit the Clyde Cycle Tunnel. To cross Govan Road “by the book” is so slow and complex that few cyclists comply and simply cross Govan Road when and where they can. The lack of a simple and safe crossing is simply unacceptable.
Our tour concluded with a ride through the centre of Govan and discussion as to how a dedicated cycle route through the main street of Govan Road could be a significant feature as part of the area regeneration.
Overall we were underwhelmed by the cycle facilities that we saw and used in Govan. Short sections were excellent but on the whole we felt that most were let down by poor design and poor implementation. The biggest issues are the lack of interconnectivity between adequate facilities and the method the planners use to take cyclists across main roads by requiring cyclists to behave like pedestrians and use complex, slow, barriered crossings. These are tricky for inexperienced cyclists to manoeuvre through, and experienced cyclists are likely to ignore the lights and cross as and when they see a gap in the traffic. The perennial problem of cars parking in non-segregated cycle lanes remains an issue in Govan as almost everywhere else in the UK.
We hope that Councillor Allan Young will be able to use the information gained in this tour to inform him in his work as a councillor and as ever, GoBike are here to help should he (or any of the other three Govan councillors) have any further questions.
We have one more tour planned for Friday 01 December with Councillors Cullen and Cunningham around Ward 13, Garscadden/Scotstounhill. Then, unless we can choose daylight during the winter, we’ll be hoping to resume in the spring – if councillors are minded to join us!
Yes, just 2 weeks to go until our AGM, followed by discussion with Anna Richardson, Glasgow City Council’s Convenor for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction – this includes all things cycling, walking and roads.
In the AGM we hope to approve our new constitution and elect people to be on our main committee and our sub-committee action groups to take projects and campaigns forward. We are very excited about the prospect of 2 Co-Convenors to take campaigning for good cycle infrastructure in Glasgow and Strathclyde forward, an improved focus on consultations and we are looking for people to help with marketing the campaign and increasing membership. Do please volunteer to join in!
Anna Richardson will be talking about the challenges of her role and answering your questions about how we take the city forward to be a place for people.