Thank you Tricia Fort!

Tonight at our AGM Tricia Fort, who has been instrumental for many many years to the GoBike campaign, stood down from her role on our committee. She has been a key component to GoBike, leading the campaign for many years, as well as fighting hard in keeping up our consultations aspect of the campaign. Tonight, she echoed her calls to other campaigners to step up and get more involved – and what better inspiration for us than Tricia’s footsteps. We will miss her dearly but knowing Tricia, we are sure that she is going to continue to give up her free time for many years to come to make Glasgow and in fact our world a better place.

Messages of thanks to Tricia have flooded in and so we wanted to share some of them here.

Tricia has been unwavering in her commitment to the campaign to make Glasgow a better place to cycle. I have always looked forward to a new edition of the Consultation Digest- though I’ll admit sometimes with a little trepidation! Having that overview of the work underway across the wider region is so useful, and will have informed countless consultation responses. Thank you to Tricia for an enormous contribution on our journey to a more cycle friendly city.

Cllr Anna Richardson

 Well done Tricia for your massive shift working for GoBike. Your rigour and business skills dragged our small group from a low point, to building a campaign and membership that is vital, effective and a widely respected force. As chair and then source of consultation responses and news, you gave GoBike a lead role in bringing cycling to be top of the agenda for a future Glasgow. The high standards you set should also help enable riding a bike to becomes the norm for everyone.

Peter Hayman – ex-convenor GoBike (during the lean years)

Thanks Tricia for being the stalwart and no nonsense campaigner who has kept GoBike on track for all the time I have been a member. Also seen out on Saturday/Sunday rides, marches and other GoBike jaunts including Hadrian’s Wall C2C trip. Always ready with advice and support – you will be missed.

Jeremy Stevenson – GoBike Secretary

Tricia has been a real source of inspiration to me and my campaigning – when I took over from her as co-convenor of GoBike I knew I had big shoes to fill and I was quaking in those boots. However, she was a big help and source of encouragement to me when I did, and she has become a firm friend. Tricia’s principles and drive to make the world better for others is incredible and I want to thank her for everything she has done for GoBike throughout the years. I have every faith that she will use her new found time in the positive way she has always given away so freely.

Iona Shepherd – GoBike Campaigns Lead

Tricia’s grammar is impeccable and she has taught my wife all she knows about apostrophe’s. My lifetime goal remains to be allowed to follow Tricia on Strava.

Graeme Cook

I’ve known Tricia a relatively short time, from the beginning I’ve been open-mouthed at her capacity for organisation and keeping a grip on things.  And good old-fashioned hard work and dedication.  The effort she’s put into the Consultations Digest over the years would be incredible if the Digests weren’t there as evidence – and for the first years she was Convenor of GoBike at the same time.  Of course the words in the Digest are only the tip of the iceberg, she would mostly have been out to look at the proposals on the ground, and will have written the GoBike responses as well, while keeping track of the confusion of closing dates.  Now that she’s stepped away from responsibility for Consultations it’s taking more than three people to keep the system running, and I wouldn’t put money on the formulation of responses being anything like as complete.  And her skill at crafting short punchy letters is something to behold…

Brenda Lillicrap

I want to stay in the Glasgow that would exist if GCC had heeded all of Tricias consultation responses, what a great, healthy and sustainable place that would have been to live and love.

Caroline Thompson

I first became acquainted with Tricia in around 2009, when we both retired from paid work. I had been asked to volunteer for Sustrans – which, back then was a fairly small organisation, with a small budget and less than 10 staff to cover Scotland.

At that time, although we had had national routes 7 and 75 in Glasgow, that was about the sum total of cycling infrastructure in Glasgow, apart from some disconnected and very short – some very short! – sections which were characterised by notices stating ‘Cyclists dismount’.

GCC did have a cycling unit (almost all of whom have retired now), which was part of Roads, but was clearly far down the hierarchy when it came to funding and influence. The politics of the Council was very pro-roads and motor vehicles. So, the only way that the cycling unit could get anything for cycling was by squeezing it in at the edges. 

Around that time, there were two projects – “Smarter Places, Smarter Choices” which, for its time, was a pretty radical plan for the Bridgeton area (That’s where the segregated cycle lanes on London Road came from!) and the Millennium Project, which, for Glasgow, was “The Bridge to Nowhere”. Tricia and I were invited on to the steering groups for these and that is when we first became acquainted. 

Here, a Sustrans’ civil engineer argued her case strongly, the Roads officers (all men) behaved patronisingly and despite having agreed to points she made, simply did not implement them. The presence of another woman and, what’s more a woman who is also an engineer, and a woman who was not afraid to bite (figuratively ….. but I would not have pushed her too far!) was a great help. So, slowly – very slowly – progress was made, but the breakthrough came when the heid yins in Roads failed to come up with the cash – as promised – for “The Bridge to Nowhere” – and the project, which had become quite a prestige project, was likely to founder. Fortunately, because a project by Perth council had failed, Sustrans switched the cash to Glasgow and the bridge actually went somewhere.

At the same time, Tricia began pressing for a Glasgow Cycle forum and persuaded Councillor Matt Kerr (Labour) and Councillor Mackay (SNP) to set one up. To be fair to both councillors, they were sincerely committed to cycling, and although the Forum met in the City Chambers it had no formal status. Often, it was just a ‘greetin meetin’ – and there was plenty to greet about! – but it built alliances amongst cycling groups and, gradually, the Councillors were able to get Council Officers and the Police to make reports. I can remember vividly Tricia’s terrier-like savaging of them – she did not miss them and hit the wall! Fortunately, we also had Peter Hayman’s courteous emollience to smooth things over! 

Tricia kept notes and did her homework so officers learned they had to deal in realities and start producing results on the ground.

Around 2012, towards the end of the financial year, the Scottish Government had a significant pot of money to distribute, because of various projects which had not spent sums during the year. The money was given to Sustrans to support Councils who had ‘shovel-ready’ projects to provide cycling infrastructure. The City of Glasgow had none! Edinburgh, for example, was able to claim about half the total cash. So, for a second time in two years Glasgow’s Roads Department had failed the citizens significantly.

Sustrans’ Chief Executive in Scotland met Tricia at several national conferences around that time and was very impressed, not just with her determination bur with her vision. Sustrans then funded two embedded officers within Roads. The purpose was to change the culture. This was facilitated by substantial retirals of many long-serving Roads officials. The Cycle Forum became a formal consultative Committee of GCC and it was chaired by the then Leader, Cllr Frank McAveety. It was still often a ‘hostile environment’ and often, things promised did not come to pass. But we had a place!

At around this time, Tricia became Convenor of GoBike and gradually transformed it into the strong campaigning body we now have. Whereas before, despite the outstanding vision of people like Andy Preece, GB was on the outside shouting increasingly frustratedly and angrily because of its seeming impotence, now, we had channels into the Council. Tricia organised hustings at election times and, from the start, SNP, Labour, Greens, Conservatives, LibDems, SSP, all sent representatives to these. Fairly significant figures were invited – and accepted – to address AGMs and to be questioned by members.

And, more, and younger members began joining. They had a range of backgrounds and expertise and so Council proposals could be criticised from a good knowledge base and, more importantly, constructive suggestions are being made.

Undoubtedly, Tricia has mellowed over the years (having a grand-daughter has helped!) and the experience gained in a number of forums enabled her to become more stateswoman-like, but the teeth are still there – and all are her own, still! She exemplifies the adage that you are never too old to learn and  she has the confidence to admit she has learned. 

She has other social interests, to campaign for such as the appalling homelessness and the lack of public toilets. And, she also has a strong intellectual side, with her years-long membership of the Royal Glasgow Philosophical Society, the pointy-heidit forum par excellence of this city, which has been addressed in its time by Nobel Laureates.

Glasgow has a long tradition of strong women like Mary Barbour, women who took on authority from a grass-roots moral stance. I think Tricia is part of that tradition. Grassroots campaigning does work, but it has to be smart and be prepared to engage and make the change. Sometimes, campaigning has to be side-lined for a while (Just a wee while!) to implement changes, even when some changes are not as much as we would like them to be.

I think Tricia is confident in the members of GoBike and knows that they can be constructively engaged in the changes that are in the future. 

If you had asked her 10/12 years ago whether would we have the infrastructure and plans we have now in Glasgow, I am not sure she would have dared to be so optimistic. There are still things to be done, but, never again will the City of Glasgow be in the shameful position of not having plans ready to be implemented and having to turn down funds. It is important to take time and reflect on what we have achieved. Tricia has achieved a lot.
Alasdair Macdonald

Thank you for everything Tricia!