Thursday, 12 May 2016

Glasgow, A Cycling City!?

Drugs.

Yep, drugs.

That's the only answer I could come up with that could explain a link I was forwarded today. The writer of the article must have been on some pretty powerful recreational drugs.

At first the article made me laugh, but the article was not trying to be funny. Oh no. In fact this website was trying to list...

 '16 OF THE WORLD’S BEST CITIES FOR CYCLING (PLUS ONE ISLAND)'.

Great, what's funny about that. Surely it will be a list consisting of quite a few cities from the Netherlands, and Denmark, probably with a few other notable European cities, perhaps Seville, or Berlin. Maybe the odd US city. Perhaps, at an absolute push it might mention London, who at this very moment is taking baby steps, but important baby steps, towards building a segregated network.

It definitely wouldn't include Glasgow. No it wouldn't. Really!!

It did.

In at number 14, one place behind Amsterdam and one place above Berlin, nestled the Dear Green Place...Glasgow.

Wow. Perhaps I've been riding in the wrong parts of Glasgow. Perhaps I've just missed the good bits. Ok, there is teeny, weeny wee green shoots appearing here and there, but they are teeny weeny. Perhaps it mentions the South West cycle route.......OK, by European standards its a bit...meh....but you know...

No. Here is the wee bit on Glasgow.
Glasgow is home to the breathtaking Red Tunnel that leads from Finnieston to Hydro. The tunnel is car-free and offers an exhilarating ascent and descent. Glasgow has more than 300 kilometers of cycle ways as well as a flat traffic-free route that runs from the city, through the quintessential Scottish countryside to the canal side town of Kirkintilloch.
All of Glasgow’s must see sites, including the Gallery of Modern Art, the Riverside Museum, the Tall Ship and the Lighthouse, are easily accessible by bike and within five minutes of a Nextbike station. (Nextbike is the city’s bike-share program.)

Wait a minute!!! A 'breathtaking Red Tunnel'?! 300km of cycle infrastructure? And a canal path? That's what gets you to number 14? Oh I suppose they mention the Nextbike hire scheme...ok, that's a good thing, but that certainly doesn't make Glasgow a cycle friendly city!

So that Red Tunnel...What exactly is it?

Source: witness.theguardian.com
Yes, it's a red tunnel with some green and red paint in it, Cyclists are supposed to keep to the green and pedestrians are supposed to keep to the red. It has a few sharp bends in it, it goes up and down and....well, it is a million miles away from breathtaking! That is unless it is the occasional smell of urine that is taking your breath away.

Seriously this is not a good looking structure. It was built because the Exhibition Centre (and other more recent buildings) couldn't be built next to the train station. There is a ruddy huge road in the way!

I actually searched the internet to see if I could find any pictures of the outside of it. I couldn't. Not surprising when you look at the Google Streetview picture of it....


Breathtaking? Hmm.

But this is a minor issue. The biggest issue is the 300km of cycle infrastructure that Glasgow is supposed to have. Let me state this very, very clearly....

Glasgow does not have 300km of cycle infrastructure!!!!!!!

I'm not going to go into detail here, GlasgowCycleMan hits the nail on the head with his analysis, We currently have (its increased a bit) about 4km of segregated cycle route. We have about 70km of off road leisure (some commuting) routes. So we effectively have 74km of any type of reasonable route.

The rest is made up of paint on the roads (20.6km), shared use, like the fabulous red bridge (83.km) of which the vast majority is absolutely pants, 40km of what is called calmed/low traffic routes (40km) which are actually just....umm, err...roads that are a bit quieter.

Oh, and lets not forget the bus corridors. 83km of that. That is, roads that have some bus lanes. We can use those. We have to share them with buses of course...no problems there...ahem.... when there aren't any buses, sure they can be good. They can be reasonable. when there isn't a bus in it, and when the lane is within its enforced times, which it often isn't, oh and where the bus lane is continuous, which it almost never is.

This bit is important..... The whole of the bus corridor is counted as cycle network. I cycle down a bus corridor sometimes on Maryhill Road. Lots of Maryhill Road has no bus lanes on it. That doesn't matter. It all counts in Glasgow City Council's network. Some of Maryhill Road does have bus lanes, lots doesn't. It all counts.

So, dear article writer. I strongly suspect that you haven't ever set foot in Glasgow and, as I suggest at the start of the article, that you are on some really spacey drugs. Perhaps Glaswegian cyclists could do with those drugs and we would all be cycling in Unicorn Bike Land.....man.....

......What, you want to read the article in question? Well read on....man......

Friday, 6 May 2016

Sticks and Stones

Its the week leading up to Pedal on Parliament. Its always a busy week with e-mails flying back and forth between the organisers. At about 10:55pm on the 20th April, whilst I wasn't sending any e-mails, I was keeping an eye on them on my smart-phone whilst doing the ironing. That's pretty standard for me at that time of night on a 'school night'. In fact at this precise moment in time I was having a Twitter conversation with Ross Greer and making my mind up about voting Green in the Scottish elections.

Crack!

I hear a noise, definitely an unusual noise. I look into the hall and I see one of the cats mulling about. I look around for a moment and then assume it was just the cat knocking into something. I carry on as before.

The next morning I get up, and head downstairs. I open the curtains and, in passing, notice a mark on the front window. It looks like bird poop, so I think nothing of it. I get ready to go to work and off I go.

Later in the afternoon I get a text from my wife.

When you get a chance can you look at the CCTV for today. Not sure if someone has tried to throw a brick at our front window.

Eek! will do!

She'd spotted the marks on the window, and had taken a closer look. She also noticed a large rock in the garden.

I get home and look, and sure enough, there is a mark on the window, that exactly matches the marks on the rock lying in our garden. I quickly fire up the computer and log in to our CCTV system. There it was. At 22:55 pm I see someone running into our garden and throwing a brick at the window, before scarpering off.

Horrible, but fortunately no lasting serious done, apart from a few permanent scratches on the window...Double glazing is difficult to break apparently. Thankfully.

I called the police. When they came and looked at the footage, they agreed that it looked targeted. The suspect clearly hid his face as he ran into the garden. He targeted us, despite us having CCTV cameras.

Anyway a few days passed, as did a successful #POP2016, and life was heading back to normal (it takes a few days after each POP for that to happen!).

Then on the 25th April at about 10:20pm, when I was in the kitchen doing pretty much the same thing as I was on the 20th.....I hear a strange crunching sound. This time I head straight for the front window. As soon as I look out I can see strange reflections of light from the ground next to the back of our car. It looked very much like glass. I rush outside to see that the rear window of our car had been smashed and a large rock was sat inside our car.

They'd come back.

Once again CCTV caught the act.

Here is the CCTV footage from the two incidents.




The police were called again. Once again they agreed, that this was targeted and that it was likely something to do with my cycle campaigning. They went around the neighbours, no-one saw anything unfortunately. After some further discussions they suggested that I could share the footage. So I have.

I've been called names, I've been shot at, I've been threatened with arrest (completely inappropriately I might add!), I've been spat at, I've had death threats.

The last 10 (almost 11) years have certainly been interesting. All, because I took up cycling and, goodness me.... I dared to stand up for myself and not accept that things just happen. I'm not alone in doing this, I'm just particularly well known for doing this.

I am not anonymous and it is unfortunately very easy to find my address online. There's nothing I can do about that.

So, someone has decided to take direct action. Well, I say direct, by that I mean against my property and not me personally. They have thrown a couple of large stones. Perhaps they were also behind the tacks that were left at the end of my path previously.

What they expect to gain from this? I don't know.

I haven't received any demands, or any messages. They might be a driver I've filmed, a driver I've reported, someone who doesn't like POP, someone who wants the Bears Way cycle lane ripped out, a cyclist who doesn't like what I do......etc....

I just don't know.

What's pretty clear is that this is aimed at me and is 99% certain to be something to do with my cycling, helmet camera use or campaigning. I don't do anything else controversial and neither does the rest of my family!

So if anyone out there knows what this is about, please let me know. You can leave a message below (anonymously if you prefer). If you know who is doing this, either let me know or the police know via 101. Do you recognise the clothes the stone thrower (looks like slight to medium build) is wearing?

From the videos it can be deduced that the person (persons) is/are wearing:

Video 1: a cap, a puffer jacket with what looks like lighter patches on the shoulders, pale coloured shorts, a darker zip top under the puffer, possibly a watch or a strap on their left hand, and some trainers with distinctive bands on them as you can see in the video (anyone know the make?)

Video 2: Same build, cap which has a slightly darker visor (possibly the same cap as before), and possibly a motif on the front...otherwise difficult to see.

Were you in Torrance on either of these nights and did you see anything suspicious? Have you seen anyone boast about doing something like this online? Or have you heard anything about it in the pub?

Anything you can do to help would be appreciated.

As for cycle campaigning...well....there is still lots to do.....




Monday, 18 April 2016

Important isn't Important Enough - Pedal on Parliament -

Important.

How many times a week, or even day do we hear that word. It's important to do this...it's important to do that....This event is important you must go to this....and so on.

Important is a word that these days doesn't seem important. Too many things are important.

So it has been each year when I write a blog asking people to come to Pedal on Parliament. Every year it has been important. The first year because... well... because it was the first! The second because we had to prove it wasn't a one off. The third, as we wanted to build a head of steam. The forth as we needed to keep up the pressure.

Here we are now at POP 5 and....I'm not going to tell you it is important. Quite simply it isn't. The truth is that this POP is far too important for that word. This is without a doubt the most important...ahem....of all.

This POP is absolutely, categorically, significantly, VITAL!!! Attendance is salient, paramount and essential!

(Yes I did look for synonyms of important!)

If you only ever come to one POP, this is the one!!! Seriously!!

Here we are only a few weeks away from the Scottish election. For the first time parties are starting to put spending commitments into their manifestos. For example the greens are committed to 10% of the transport budget. Brilliant! The other parties are making promises too, even the conservatves have for the first time committed some cash (a tiny £5m, but they have never committed anything before!).

I don't think we can say for certain that POP has made a difference on any particular issue, but I honestly think we wouldn't be looking at these promises if we hadn't had POP.

I also hear from various political insiders (including politicians themselves) that POP has had a huge impact in political circles. Active travel is on the agenda here in Scotland.

Despite this I still hear people say to me:

Och, I've been to POP before, so I don't need to go again.

or

What's the point, nothing ever changes. Politicians don't listen...

No!!!!! They absolutely do listen. Sure, they only listen when it becomes politically useful to listen, but right now is one such time. They are listening!!

How do I know this? Well, here we are with the Scottish election looming. Party leaders have lots to do. They have to be out winning every vote. They won't come to POP, will they...?

Oh yes they will!

We already have firm commitments from leader of the Greens, Patrick Harvie, and leader of the Lib Dems, Willie Rennie. We also have a promise from the leader of Labour, Kezia Dougdale to come along barring any last minute issue. She has after all been to every POP so far! Are you listening Ruth Davidson!?!

What about the SNP? Well, OK, we don't have a commitment from Nicola Sturgeon.....yet.....but we do have the Transport Minister Derek Mackay coming, so that's not too bad!

We have many other politicians coming as well. They have all made the decision that active travel is too important not to attend. Yes, ok, we have't got what we want yet, but at least they are listening.

Listening though, is only half of the story. To listen there has to be something to listen to, and that is exactly where you come in. We need your voice, we need your noise, we need your banners, we need your enthusiasm, we need your friends.....

We need YOU!!!!

Don't have a bike? Not a problem. Come and walk with us. In fact, it is people without bikes....those who currently don't cycle, that this is all about. It's about making cycling safe and convenient for people who currently don't cycle.

It'll never happen.....bah humbug......etc....

Oh really? We just need to look to London, and the small baby steps they are taking. Something amazing is happening there. Sure it is only in small pockets, but this is happening....



No, that isn't Amsterdam, that is London. Seriously. Videos and pictures just like that are starting to pop up everywhere demonstrating that even in the political hotbed of London it is possible! Yes, it takes time and it has taken time in London (they have been fighting for infrastructure like this from before I started campaigning...), but persistence has paid off, and it can and will here too.

There are already early signs of a cycling spring, you just have to look hard....

So get yer bike out, or your walking shoe on (or your skateboard, your wheelchair, your adapted bike etc....). This Saturday do your bit to make a difference.

Come to Pedal on Parliament this Saturday (23rd April) at the Meadows in Edinburgh, just before noon. Join us on our journey to parliament. Listen to the speeches. Talk to the politicians.

Help us.........make Scotland a cycle friendly country!!!



Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Swings, Roundabouts, and U-Turns

The Bears Way.

There I said it. Just saying that word is enough to start an argument. I should know. I was out socialising recently (something I get the chance to do very rarely!) and I got chatting to someone I know well. Really nice chap. Really intelligent. Just so happens to live near…..Bears Way.

So, what do you think about Bears Way?

Mistake.

Out flows a whole heap of anger and illogical statements…..cyclists do this, cyclists do that, blah….. the precise nature of which, doesn’t matter. What matters is, that for some people, messing with their (ahem) roads is very bad for karma.

This doesn’t just extend to Joe Blogs at a social gathering, it extends to the press.

The local paper is the Milngavie and Bearsden Herald. This paper is that sort of local paper that is almost certainly struggling to survive in the digital age. It probably has a dwindling readership and thus is trying its best to infiltrate the iterweb thingy with its mediocre online site.

Clicks are gold. Clicks are advertising revenue.

So we have a situation where reporters, and most importantly their bosses, are driven by clicks, so they ensure that any story they can produce will help to increase that days clicks, and perhaps increase the chances of the paper surviving. Yes they have to post a story about a cat getting stuck up a tree, but so long as it is next to click bait....

Bears Way is click GOLD.

We’ve all been around a while and we all know that no story is quite like a car v’s bike for getting an angry fervour going. The population as a whole has, for many years, bought into the dream that the roads are a happy care free place without much consequence. They have bought into it with significant amounts of money. I know this personally as I’ve just bought a new (well year old) car that cost many multiples of thousands of pounds.

Cars are generally the second biggest purchase after homes. In fact for many the car is THE most expensive as few people these days can afford a home. So take away space from their car and you threaten the only thing that many can realistically aspire to.

Anyway, as I was saying.... Bears Way is click GOLD, and thus the MBH has been feeding off that for a while. They have realised that people fear loosing the right to drive 40mph down a 30mph and have thus been publishing lots of anti-Bears Way rhetoric.
Car crashes due to Bears Way. Another car crashes due to Bears Way. Threats made because of Bears Way. Anger at work on Bears Way, even though it isn't actually Bears Way (This article has been completely changed today!). Dismay at attempt to make dangerous roundabout safe as part of Bears Way. Cancer caused by Bears Way….oh wait, we’ve not had that one...yet….

So it has happened again.

New cycle lanes blamed for crash on Milngavie Road today

I would link to the story here, but I can’t, for reasons that will become clear later. In the mean time you can read the text here…

There have been several reports of a car crash on Milngavie Road this morning and one local businessman sent in a dramatic picture of the aftermath.
Crash on Milngavie Road

The accident happened at about 10.50am and sources say that it involved a Volkswagon Beetle and a cyclist near McDonald’s takeaway in Bearsden on the A81. The road layout has recently been altered, it has just one lane for cars now and is less wide than it was previously, due to the council’s ‘Bears Way’ project which involved the installation of a new segregated cyle lane.

One woman, who lives on Milngavie Road, said: “I’m demented by this new road layout. It’s a nightmare.“I regularly get tooted by other motorists now when I’m just trying to get my car on to Milngavie Road from my house.“It’s getting worse. I see cyclists not using the new cycle lane every day and causing an obstruction for cars.“I’m going to contact my local councillor - the council should put the road back to how it was before.”

A Milngavie lady who travelled past the accident on her way to Glasgow at about 11am and then returned an hour later says it’s caused terrible traffic.She said: “People are being directed by the police just now.“It’s all because of this new cycle lane.“It looks like a car has swerved to avoid a cyclist coming out of the lane to cross the road.”

Victor Budas, Vice President of Burnbrae Resident’s Association, also sent us some pictures.He has lived in the Burnbrae area for nearly 40 years and says he’s never seen such an accident at this location. Now he’s seen two nearly identical accidents (another one happened last November), when the traffic light posts have been completely flattened across the pavements, in under five months.He said: “The driver was badly shaken.“It’s scary - this has happened where the road is very narrow.“A woman crossed this road with her baby in a buggy just moments before - they could have been hit.“Most people thought this new road layout was an accident waiting to happen and now it’s happened twice.“Will it take a death for something to be done about it?“I know several old people who are frightened to walk along there now.”

Independent Bearsden Councillor Duncan Cumming said: “This is awful and I sincerely hope no one was injured.”
However Police Scotland insist that this incident was not a result of the road layout.

Sounds horrible, and it was. A car is seen impaled on a traffic light. The poor driver appears to have swerved to avoid a dastardly cyclist who was cycling on a dastardly cycle lane. Poor, poor driver.
The paper heralded it on Twitter and Facebook, knowing full well it would get clicks galore.
However, something wasn’t right. I wrote as much on the Facebook page, which was festooned with commentators asking for the road to be returned to its former glory…

I wrote:

Is anyone actually paying attention to the people who know what they are taking about? Anyone? The police say that it was not caused by the road layout. The police. You know, the people who went to this and will have investigated this. Yet more credence is paid to folk who just have opinions. Fantastic. Do we have the facts of what happened? No. Did the road or cycle lane jump put at anyone? No. Is the cycle lane perfect? Far from it. So your answer is rip it out and return to the people hostile environment it once was? Perhaps just perhaps the issues can be fixed, the lane extended and more active travel encouraged. But wait, that might mean you have to keep to the speed limit. Nah. Can't have that....

The most important point I made was that, we didn’t have the facts. It was all hearsay. The paper, jumped at the chance to get a click-bait story out that was feeding on the prejudices it knew a lot of its readers had, and it thought it was onto a winner.

But….yes you knew that was coming….but……

The problem with filling in the blanks is that you are likely to get the blanks wrong. So here we have the exact same article as above, the following day (note this is not a new article, but a deletion of the old one and a completely new article that is linked from the URL of the old one).


Go on, click it. Yes I know it is giving them clicks, but this is worth seeing in all its glory.
Yup, there was no cyclist. Well, ok there was, but they weren’t involved in the accident in any way, whatsoever. They just witnessed it. In fact, said cyclist not only witnessed it, but hung around for a good long while to confort the pedestrian that was nearly killed by the tumbling traffic light that was sent tumbling by the car, that was being driven by the driver.

Oops.

That and the police re-iterate that the accident had nothing to do with the road lay-out, apart from the fact that the pavement and the traffic light got in the way of the car and its driver’s chosen route.

Now let’s be clear, we still don’t know the full facts. Perhaps a cat ran out and the driver swerved to avoid it. Perhaps there was a failure in the cars steering. Perhaps the driver was busy using their mobile phone, responding to the latest anti- Bears Way article on Facebook. Who knows?! But it wasn’t a cyclist’s fault and it wasn’t the fault of the road layout.

Way to go MBH for getting an article about as wrong as you possibly can! High five!

Will this abate the hatred for the cycle lane? Of course not. The haters will keep on hating it even when in their own minds, it becomes, just 'cause! What I do hope is that the reasonable people of Milngavie and Bearsden will look at this sorry episode and see it for what it is. Blatant stirring of local prejudice.

Is the Bears Way perfect. Absolutely not. The Friends of Bears Way have never said that. Could it be used as a stepping stone for a healthier, fairer, less polluted Milngavie and Bearsden?

Yes it could.


Oh and as I write this I see that yet another article has been edited from a previous version (old one is gone), now with the council comment. Is this a newspaper you can trust?

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Support the Bears Way

Today (Sunday 21st Feb) myself and other concerned people are meeting at the Bears Way cycle lane in a show of support for the lane and for the future plans, which include this exciting prospect at the Burnbrae roundabout.

Some locals are though fighting it as you can see in this recent newspaper article. 


It's worse than that though. There is now a petition (which I won't link to) asking for the council to stop the whole project and take the lanes back to the utter mess they were to start with. This is the wording of the petition:
PHASE 2 OF THE BEARSWAY CYCLE LANE IS UNDER CONSULTATION AND WE HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT UNLESS THERE IS GENUINE REASONS OF OBJECTION IT WILL GO AHEAD.

SINCE PHASE 1 MILNGAVIE ROAD HAS BECOME EXTREMELY DANGEROUS, AND VERY CONGESTED. THE ROAD IS BADLY LIT AND DESPITE THE COUNCIL CLAIMS IT IS MADNESS TO TAKE AWAY ALL PROVISIONS OF SHOP AND COMMUTOR PARKING. 

PHASE 2 WILL INCREASE CONGESTION AND CONTINUE DOWN TO KESSINGTON HALL MAKING IT A COMMUTER NIGHTMARE. PLEASE SIGN THIS TO SEE IF WE CAN PUT A STOP TO THE MADNESS.
Milngavie Road has not become extremely dangerous and it most definitely hasn't become congested. The only issues are if a bus stops at a bus stop, it is harder to overtake it. That's about the size of it. No lanes have been lost and if the above roundabout goes ahead, in the worst case scenario, only about 20m of dual lanes, will be lost.

Do these objectors really want more traffic driving through Milngavie?

If you feel that its time for change, if you feel that roads should be for people, and not just for people in cars, then join us today, at Hillfoot station at 1pm. Don't let a little rain put you off!!