Blog

Space4Cycling rode the Colleges Route!

Regular followers of the Glasgow Space4Cycling campaign will know we like to get out and about on our bikes, checking out the recommended cycle routes around the city.

 On Thursday 8th October, we struck out westwards to test the cycling experience of the “Colleges Cycle Route“, which aims to connect several of Glasgow’s education campuses – stretching from Strathclyde University’s main Townhead location, via Glasgow Caledonian University and through the West End visiting Glasgow University before reaching out to Strathclyde’s Jordanhill annex. It also conveniently links to some national cycle network routes and parks with opportunities for safe family cycling.

colleges route kelvingrove park route

The intrepid riding group gathered at the foot of the famous concert hall steps at the top of Buchanan St, before heading off to join the Colleges Route just the other side of Cowcaddens Road.

We were assured by our guide, who uses the route to get to work, that the first section between GCU and Kelvingrove Park was pretty good. There was some scepticism from the riders!

But in fact the majority of this section feels pretty safe and convenient. Although it’s not the most direct route, it uses quiet back streets and off-road paths, meaning the number of times you have to stop (or foot down index) is low, so it feels convenient.

 colleges route cover photo

The first fly in the ointment was encountered as we approached St. George’s Cross. The shared cycle and pedestrian bridge over the M8 was covered in broken glass! Regular users report that this is pretty standard and that the footbridge never seems to get the maintenance it needs, if it’s going to feel safe and inviting to users of all ages and abilities.

colleges route broken glass

Some participants decided to chance the hectic roads around the cross, whereas others were forced to dismount to avoid the worst of the shards – and this is considered to be the “best” part of the route!

After passing along the pleasantly quiet West Princes Street, where through traffic is discouraged by bollards and one way restrictions, we reached the edge of Kelvingrove Park.

colleges route end of west princes st

At this point the route joins Gibson Street heading West towards the University: not that you’d know, because the road has no help for cyclists at all. Turning left to join University Avenue, we found that temporary traffic lights had been installed for roadworks, and presumably because people cycling uphill were holding up the traffic, “cyclists dismount” signs were in place. In fact, they were also in place in the opposite – downhill – direction too!

colleges route cycle lane closed roadworks

As we continued westwards, most of the route merely consisted of narrow on-street cycle lanes; the green and white paint having significantly faded since it was last maintained. And the majority of these lanes placed us in the notorious “door zone”. For an idea of how much distance there should be between a parked car and the cycle lane, check out this video.

colleges route door zone

Of course, paint is open to abuse:

colleges route parked in cycle lane

At one point the cycle lane appears to have been turned into a parking bay. We all stopped and had a good look at this one:

colleges route WTF

And of course there are junctions where the provision for cycling is simply incompatible with the idea of all ages and abilities being able to use a bike to get around.

colleges route terrible junction

So the verdict on the Colleges Route: the first section from the city centre to Kelvingrove park is actually not bad. After that, it’s generally poor, outdated design that Glasgow is thankfully moving well beyond.

Hopefully an upgrade to this much needed route will be on the cards before long.

space4cycling launches with Ride on the Bus Stop

24 members of Glasgow’s newly formed space4cycling campaign staged a Ride on the Bus Stop” on Thursday night to highlight the city’s latest piece of “Danny MacAskill” infrastructure, where cyclists have to slalom around the back of bus stops on the A728, risking conflict with pedestrians. This was an improvement on the initial situation where cyclists were sent into the side of the newly installed shelters, but still leaves an important cycle route seriously compromised – undoing a key legacy of the Commonwealth Games only a year after the road was redesigned from scratch.

With the help of Calton ward councillor Yvonne Küçük local cyclists were quick to highlight the problem of the news bus stops blocking the cycle lane, but although the lanes have now been repainted three times in the last 30 days the council is no closer to fixing the conflict they have created.

Tactiles into bus stop
The temporary fix is particularly hazardous to those with sight loss, who use the horizontal tactile paving to ensure they are on the correct side of the pavement.

Local cyclist Rob Williams said “Glasgow council has shown a recent growth of interest in quality cycle routes, with a new cycling strategy document out for consultation and trial barriers installed on Aitkenhead Road. However they have clearly struggled with the detail, with examples leaving cyclists having to cross multiple lanes of traffic to access their safe separated space, or putting them unnecessarily into conflict with pedestrians. The result is here a confusing series of partial lanes which do little to encourage all-ability cycling in the city. However, the lanes are well used despite the poor quality, and so we were massively disappointed when two of the stretches of cycle lane were completely blocked by new bus shelters in late July.”

Speaking on behalf of space4cycling Glasgow, Lizzie Reather said “we arranged this event to urge the council to permanently resolve the problem using a Dutch-style ‘floating’ bus stop, recommended by the UK Cycling Embassy and already in use by Glasgow city council 500 metres away on London Road. If the council stands by its vision to ‘create a vibrant Cycling City where cycling is accessible, safe and attractive to all’ more effort needs to be made to integrate public transport, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.”

space4cycling glasgow roundel

Notes to editors and bloggers

The two photos above can be reused without further permission for any article relating to the Ride on the Bus Stop. Credit should be given to Iona Shepherd.

Space for Cycling is a UK-wide campaign calling on local governments to create a safe and attractive environment for cycling by implementing the six S4C priorities:

  • Protected space on main roads
  • Removing through motor traffic in residential areas
  • Lower speed limits
  • Cycle-friendly town centres
  • Safe routes to school
  • Routes through parks and green spaces

The space4cycling Glasgow campaign was launched in June 2015 to bring these six priorities to a city that is falling behind the rest of the UK in terms of quality infrastructure and percentage of trips made by bike.

For more information please email us (s4cGlasgow@gmail.com). We are also on Twitter (@s4cGlasgow) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/S4CGlasgow)