Please help our friends in Friends of the Earth and Get Glasgow Moving to get better bus services in Scotland; a better bus service means fewer people feel they need to get cars, so more room for bikes on the road and less pollution. PLEASE USE THIS LINK TO ADD YOUR SUPPORT. It’s quick and easy to do. The information that follows is from Friends of the Earth:
Scotland’s bus sector is in crisis.
In the last decade, bus companies have cut routes by a fifth and increased fares by a huge 50%. This dramatic deterioration is preventing people accessing basic services like hospitals and job centres, causing social isolation and inequality. It is also increasing the dominance of cars, exacerbating toxic air pollution and climate emissions.
Apart from Lothian Buses and a few other exceptions, most of Scotland’s buses are privately run, and all too often profit is put before people. Under public ownership and well-designed franchise models, profits from busy bus routes can be reinvested back into expanding the public transport network, improving reliability and reducing fares.
The Government wants your views about whether to shift the balance of power away from private companies and towards public bodies.
Take your chance to demand Local Transport Authorities are granted the powers necessary to run their own bus companies, or failing this, to operate well regulated franchises.
It’s time for a decent, fully-integrated, accessible and affordable public transport network for everyone in Scotland. Take action today.
This will be a response to the official consultation on improving local bus services and is supported by Friends of the Earth Scotland, Get Glasgow Moving, Unison, and Unite Community. You can read the full consultation document here.
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!
Our friends in Get Glasgow Moving have sent us encouragement to respond to the Local Bus Services consultation, as well as the Smart Ticketing consultation, which both close at midnight on 5 December 2017. Both these are being run by the Scottish Government. The associated papers are moderately technical and perhaps overly complicated but please do respond to both before the closing date.
The better our bus services, the more people will use them, the less traffic congestion there will be, the less pollution there will be and the better our towns and cities will be for those of us who walk and cycle.
Smart ticketing seems to be a no-brainer and the sooner it is brought in for travel throughout Scotland the better. It will make using public transport easier for us all.
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
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.
While GoBike is campaigning for good cycle infrastructure, we recognise the need for good public transport, a linked-up, integrated system to encourage people out of their private cars. Our sister group, Get Glasgow Moving, has launched this petition:
Regulating our buses will lead to more organised bus services, giving better coverage and thus encourage car owners to leave the car at home and use the bus. This, in turn, will lead to less congestion on our roads and less chaotic driving, thus improving conditions for those of us who cycle. GoBike therefore supports the campaign to Re-regulate Scotland’s Buses
Unite Scotland‘s Haud the Bus Petition to regulate Scotland’s Buses will be heard by the Public Petitions Committee at The Scottish Parliament Edinburgh next Thursday 19th January at 9:30am. Members of the public may attend committee meetings at the Parliament, so get there if you can.