Where’s the width? City centre devoid of decent cycle lanes

2 April 2019

Where’s the cycle lane? Photograph: Calam Pengilly

Glasgow City Council ignores government’s recommendations on size of cycle lanes

A number of cycle lanes in Glasgow city centre do not meet the “Absolute Minimum Width” as prescribed by Transport Scotland’s Cycling by Design (2010) document, The Glasgow Sloth can reveal.

Research carried out by the reporter shows that there are at least 10 instances where cycle lanes do not measure the 1.5 metres stipulated as the recommended minimum.

The narrowest of the lanes was recorded at just 96cm, over half a metre narrower than the recommendation and 24 cm below the absolute minimum.

Search the map below for the locations of the problem lanes.

Transport Scotland say in the revised 2011 edition of the Cycling by Design document that: “Sub-standard width or poorly located cycle lanes can provide a false sense of security for both cyclists and motor vehicle drivers and encourage poor lane discipline from both. In many cases, a narrow cycle lane can encourage close proximity overtaking by motor vehicles.” Citing a psychological study conducted by John Parkin and Ciaran Meyers from 2010.

“Limited space alone is not a reason for providing substandard width cycle lanes. Alternative solutions should be sought at such locations.” They add.

When asked why this advice had been ignored and why more money wasn’t being invested to improve existing cycle lanes, a spokesman for Glasgow City Council said:

“Many of the cycle lanes being referred to were built prior to 1998 and so considerably pre-date the Cycle by Design guidelines.”

“We always seek to follow the guidelines wherever possible and particularly where road layouts are being designed from scratch. Given the historic lay-out of Glasgow city centre, there can be substantial challenges to ensuring road design strikes an appropriate balance for all road users.”

“Through developments such as South City Way and the Sauchiehall Avenue project, significant improvements to city centre cycling infrastructure will be clearly evident in the very near future. As part of our work on a revised city centre transport strategy and also the wider Avenues Project, we are aiming to enhance the cycling infrastructure that already exists in the city centre.” He added.

Cycling is on the rise in Glasgow despite remaining at the same level for the past 11 years across the country as a whole.  

Yet many cyclists still feel unsafe in the city because of poorly designed/non existent cycle lanes and a perceived lack of attention from other road users and pedestrians.

Louise Austin commutes by bike in Glasgow often and makes use of the Waterloo Road cycleway, one of the few segregated lanes in the city centre. Despite the added protection from the vehicles, she was involved in an accident along that stretch of cycleway.

“I got knocked off my bike on the cycle lane down Waterloo Street last October…A guy was on his phone, talking… the lights for the cycle lane went green, so I started cycling. He stepped out just in time to hit me. I ended up in the main road. He was fine, I was fine, no injuries all around. Thankfully he stayed to help me up, make sure I was ok and apologise.”

Seumas Skinner, the Scottish infrastructure communications officer for cycling and active travel charity Sustrans, who work in partnership with Glasgow City Council, said: “We are keen to see all cities make it easier for people to walk, cycle or wheel, and one of the best ways to do this is to create segregated cycle ways.”

He said with regard to existing cycle lanes in the city: “We do work with other organisations to help improve existing infrastructure, not least because we update our own guidelines to ensure that projects we support follow best practices.”

The council does have several plans to improve the cycling network in Glasgow to encourage more people to travel by bike. At this stage it seems unlikely that the government will meet its target of 10% of all journeys by bike in 2020, but Glasgow does show some promising signs.

The South-West City and West City Way are complete and there are further developments in the form of the Connecting Woodside Project, which aims to make the area around Woodlands, Maryhill Road and Garscube Road more cycle friendly, with plans for a segregated lane along Garscube Road. There’s also the Sighthill Cycling Village plan which comes alongside the regeneration of the Sighthill area and the introduction of 650 new homes. Work on the third phase of the South City Way is also anticipated and plans can be accessed here.

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