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 put a call out a few weeks ago for members to add support to a 20mph bill being put forward in Holyrood. If it goes through, it will see a reduction in the default speed limit from 30mph to 20mph for built up areas in Scotland (while allowing local authorities to keep appropriate arterial routes at current speeds). As well as reducing accidents, lowering air pollution and making our streets more people friendly, this will also negate the need for the costly and pollutive traffic calming measures that our members have been discussing over on Slack (drop us an email if you’d like to sign up!). It would also save our councils on the currently lengthy and costly process they need to undergo to designate a particular 20mph zone, in fact this was a cause we as GoBike fought on locally for Glasgow just a few years ago. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13213540.Victory_for_cycle_campaigners_as_petition_to_turn_Glasgow_into_20mph_city_referred_to_council_policymakers/
The great news is that Mark Ruskell MSP who has been working on the bill has now reached the threshold of support to take 20mph to vote, but he has let us know that if he can get a wider range of cross party support on it, it will make the bill proposal stronger when moving forward. So we still need your help! If you can ask your MSPs to sign up to the bill (particularly those from the Lib Dem and Scottish Conservatives Party of whom none have signed up so far) it could be a really significant help.
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.
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.
On Sunday 08 October Walk Cycle Vote supporters gathered outside the SNP conference venue in Glasgow. The photo above shows a young cycle enthusiast offering the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, a piece of Rocky Road Cake in grateful recognition of the doubling of the active travel budget. His mum is looking on, as were several GoBike members, plus Pedal on Parliament supporters and other active travel activists. Anna Richardson, Glasgow City Council’s Convenor for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction was there as was John Lauder, Director of Sustrans Scotland and Richard Dixon of Friends of the Earth Scotland. The minister took the time to talk to just about everyone who was there and we look forward to seeing the effects of the budget increase sometime soon.
We have just been sent this good news from Glasgow City Councll, which makes a refreshing change from our earlier post about Dowanhill!
“Woodside Mini-Holland Update
Glasgow City Council is delighted to announce that the ‘Woodside Mini-Holland project’ has been successful in winning the Community Links PLUS competition facilitated by Transport Scotland and Sustrans.
The Woodside Mini Holland bid proposes to improve walking and cycling including the creation of a Dutch style cycle-friendly area using a combination of hard infrastructure and softer measures to increase the attractiveness of everyday active travel and creating better streets and places for people. The project will see some £8m spent on transforming the Woodside Area.
The project is considered as having four main elements:
Place. Enhancing the road environment is vital to making this area a lucrative place to visit and attractive to pass through.
Segregated cycle tracks. Safe, dedicated cycle tracks, more attractive pedestrian space and excellent public transport connections.
Permeability and Connectivity for the Woodside area
Outreach work. At least 5% of the project budget will be allocated for outreach activities aimed at encouraging active and sustainable travel, working closely with partners and community organisations.
We will be in touch in due course to keep you informed and advise how you can contribute to the design.
Please share with family and friends or have them email the project team if they would like to be added to the Woodside Mini-Holland mailing list. The email address, if you wish to get updates direct is: SustainableTransport@glasgow.gov.uk
SNP Party Conference – 3pm on Sunday 8 October SECC, Glasgow – Please come along!
The force behind Walk Cycle Vote (GoBike’s a supporting member) have been kicking around the idea of a ‘cake event’ at the SNP conference on Sunday, to celebrate/acknowledge the doubling of the active travel budget.
They have just had confirmation from David Miller (the First Minister’s Special Advisor) that he’ll be able to arrange for the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf,to join us at 3pm on Sunday.
If you can get along please do – the more the better!
Meet outside the SECC at 2.45 to assemble with the cake
The annual Cycling Scotland conference comes to Glasgow this year and will be held at the University of Strathclyde, full details are here
Unfortunately we were unable to get a special rate for GoBike members but the early bird rate – you’ll need to be quick – is available until Monday 02 October, and if you have a valid student card, there’s a student rate.
The Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, will be speaking, GoBike will have a stand, and there will be lots to see and do, if you can get time off work or spare the time, and the cash, to attend.
Cycling is about to return to St George’s Cross with the latest announcement of funding from the Scottish Government, see these articles from the Herald and the BBC. Let’s hope it all comes to fruition: