Glasgow is the city in Scotland with possibly the most to gain from cycling. It has the lowest rate of car ownership in the whole country, and some of the worst health outcomes in Europe. Its centre has been sundered by urban motorways that serve to choke the city with congestion and pollution. Studies have shown that the economic benefit from cycling in the city was £4m a year – and that was despite a pitifully low rate of just 1% of journeys by bike. The potential gain, if only more people felt able to cycle, is enormous.
Bringing the Commonwealth Games to the city should be a chance to build a lasting legacy but – despite the appointment of a cycling ‘czar’ and some high-profile but isolated cycling facilities, such as the Bridge to Nowhere and the London Road segregated cycle track – that opportunity has largely been squandered. You can’t build a well-connected high-quality cycle network in a few years, but it seems as if Glasgow hasn’t even tried. Instead we have seen shared use footpaths on the route down to Cathkin Braes – one of the Commonwealth Games cycling venues – tortuous routes around the new Fastlink bus tracks, and lowest common denominator painted lanes underneath parked cars on the routes to the new Southern General Hospital, while the council has recently reiterated a 5mph speed limit for cyclists resorting to Glasgow’s parks in search a traffic-free route. Elsewhere, cyclists are expected to brave dual carriageways with no accommodation for cycling at all. Anyone would think the council was attempting to eliminate cycling from the city, not encourage it. It’s telling that those who have bought tickets for the Commonwealth Games have received no information at all about cycling to the venues, despite the ambition to run a car-free games. The truth is, it would be hard to responsibly encourage all but the very boldest to cycle to them as things stand.
Glasgow cyclists have had enough of this. They’re fed up of what little money there is being spent on infrastructure that doesn’t join up and doesn’t make sense. They’re fed up of paths being built on an ad hoc basis rather than in any coherent fashion. And they’re fed up of lack of proper consultations that provide a real chance for people to state their views.
A petition has been launched calling on Glasgow City Council to wake up and plan a real legacy for the Commonwealth Games by following Edinburgh’s lead in investing a significant and sustained share of its transport budget on cycling, to develop a proper city wide plan for cycling and to invest in properly designed, funded and connected cycle infrastructure. If you live in, work in or visit Glasgow, whether or not you cycle there now, we urge you to sign it, share it, and spread the word.
Don’t let Glasgow squander its Commonwealth Games legacy