space4cycling glasgow roundel


Some common questions about space4cycling. You can use the “jump to answer” links to point directly to an answer from social media or your own site.

  1. What’s in it for me? I don’t ride a bike. Jump to answer
  2. Local businesses rely on cars and car parking: wouldn’t space4cycling get in the way? Jump to answer
  3. How will you fit space4cycling in? There’s no space! Jump to answer
  4. Surely more space4cycling means more traffic jams? Jump to answer
  5. How can you compare Glasgow with Holland? Haven’t they always had a ‘cycling culture’? Jump to answer
  6. Does space4cycling mean separate cycle tracks alongside all roads? Jump to answer
  7. There already is some protected space. Why don’t cyclists use it? Jump to answer
  8. Why should we spend money on something that only benefits a few? Jump to answer
  9. Why should cyclists get money when they run red lights and cycle on pavements? Jump to answer
  10. I cycle already. Would space4cycling remove my right to cycle on the road? Jump to answer

1. What’s in it for me? I don’t ride a bike.

S4C isn’t just about cycling, but about better streets and neighbourhoods for everyone.

Pedestrians get a raw deal in most UK cities and Glasgow is no different. Ever felt like you had to wait ages to cross a road, or the crossing was too complicated or in the wrong place? Wished there was a bit less of the traffic noise and fumes, and a bit more peace and calm in the city? Then Space4Cycling is for you!

Most people on bikes don’t want to share busy pavements with those on foot: proper Space4Cycling means a more enjoyable and relaxing experience for everyone. And a cleaner and more sustainable city!

Plus, incorporating physical activity into daily routine is more effective than interventions that require people to make a special effort, like going to the gym: if more people cycle, that means reduced burden on our NHS in the future.

2. Local businesses rely on cars and car parking: space4cycling would get in the way.

Cars don’t shop: people shop, and they spend more in places that are pleasant. Otherwise, shopping centres would have the roads through the middle!

Evidence shows that improvements to the street environment can increase economic value and activity in an area, reflected by the sale price of residential properties and the rental price of retail premises. Another study showed that local retailers tend to overestimate the proportion of shoppers arriving by car (41% compared with the actual proportion of 22%) and underestimate the number of shoppers arriving by cycle, on foot and on public transport.

Finally, the GDP per person of the Netherlands is 10% higher than the UK…

3. How will you fit Space4Cycling in? There’s no space!

There is plenty of space if we share properly between walking, cycling and motor vehicles. Many major roads and streets in the city have several lanes of vehicles in each direction. By giving all this space over to motoring, we’ve squeezed space for cycling and walking to the minimum. But walking and cycling are much more suited to a city environment: efficient, clean, healthy and quick for short distances. More than half of shorter journeys (under 5 miles) in the UK are made by car, and over a quarter are less than two miles.

Reallocation of road space is a brave decision, but it works because if motoring becomes slightly less convenient or quick, people will consider forms of transport that are much better suited to a modern city: buses, trains, walking and cycling.

4. Surely more Space4Cycling means more traffic jams?

A study at a major junction in Amsterdam showed that in 10 seconds of cycle green light, more than 50 cyclists passed through the junction. In 40 seconds just 20 cars passed through. So even if every car had 5 occupants (and how often do you see that?) cycles are still more efficient at moving people around cities. More people on bikes means fewer jams: that’s why cycling makes so much sense as a transport option for short journeys!

5. But you can’t compare Glasgow with Holland. They always had a ‘cycling culture’.

In the 1950s, the Netherlands was embracing the car just like the rest of Europe. They started to forget the bicycle and turned their streets into space for vehicles.

But then there was a public outcry about road safety, and the government gave in to public pressure to turn things around. There is no reason we can’t do the same: it’s not particularly difficult or expensive, just takes firm political will, long term commitment, and a willingness to learn from our neighbours across the North Sea.

6. Does Space4Cycling mean putting separate cycle tracks alongside all the roads?

In the Netherlands only about 50% of cycling is on protected space alongside roads: the rest is on quiet, calm residential streets, or on greenways. That’s why protected space on main roads is just one of the Space4Cycling six priorities: reducing through traffic and greenways are also important, and may be cheaper and quicker to put in place. But there’s no getting away from it: main roads need good quality protected space for cycling.

7. There already is some protected space, and the cyclists don’t use it.

If the cyclists aren’t using a facility, it probably means there’s something wrong with it. Does it seem dangerous? Does the cycle path suddenly disappear and cyclists have to re-join the carriageway? Then staying on the road may feel safer.

Is it slow and inconvenient? Are cyclists expected to stop for loads of fiddly crossings, or give way at every side road? Then the cycle lane or path may be so inconvenient and slow that staying on the road is preferable.

But cycling shouldn’t have to be a choice between convenience and safety: no other form of transport requires this choice. It is possible for cycle-friendly design to feel safe, convenient and direct.

8. Why should we spend money on something that only benefits a few?

Investment in cycle infrastructure is great value for money! In fact it has better cost benefit than almost any other transport investment.

Portland, Oregon in the USA built 300 miles of high quality cycle infrastructure for just £40 million, which increased modal share of bicycle journeys to 8%. The payback on Portland’s investment, purely in terms of reduced health costs, is around 6.5 to 1!

Compared with this, we spend billions of pounds on projects like widening roads, putting signals on roundabouts and increasing the number of vehicle lanes at junctions: this type of intervention is very costly, and benefits are transient because so-called ‘congestion-busting’ schemes end up encouraging more people to drive for shorter journeys… creating just as much congestion, making the population unhealthy and our environment unpleasant.

9. But cyclists go through red lights! And cycle on the pavement!

Cycling through red traffic signals is dangerous: but this is rarely a factor in crashes. In 2013, in collisions involving a cycle where the police assigned a contributory factor to a road user, just 1% of the cyclists ‘Disobeyed automatic traffic signal’, and around 2% were ‘Not displaying lights at night or in poor visibility’.

On the pavement in the UK you are about 100 times more likely to be hit by a motor vehicle than by a cyclist. In fact, as a pedestrian on the pavement in the UK you are more likely to be injured by your own trousers than by a cyclist. It does happen, but thankfully, very rarely.

And why would we blame a whole group of people for the bad behaviour of a few, just because they happen to use the same form of transport? That simply makes no sense.

10. I’m a cyclist, and I don’t want to lose my right to cycle on the road.

In practical terms, about 98% of people who might cycle in the UK have already lost their ‘right to the road’: it’s become too hostile for them to consider. We want everyone to be able to choose cycling, and that means high quality, joined-up infrastructure. But it doesn’t mean the sort of shared-use, pavement-conversion rubbish that has been passed off as ‘cycling infrastructure’ in the UK for so many years.

Good quality cycling infrastructure means smooth surfaces and gentle turns, so you can cycle at a reasonable speed. The route is easy to follow and well sign-posted. It doesn’t involve having to stop every few metres for a Toucan crossing, or to bump up a full height kerb, or turn at right angles between ugly guard rail fences. The way isn’t barred by access barriers – that stop people with cargo bikes, trailers, trikes and handcycles. Good cycle infrastructure means good for everyone.

Sound like something you can support? We’d love to hear from you!