Friday 28 February 2014

The Truth About Drivers

I'm going to say something that is probably a bit controversial and perhaps not entirely politically correct. However, it is something that I unfortunately believe is true. In the past I have said on a number of occasions that the majority of drivers are good around cyclists. I no longer believe this to be true. I now believe,

The majority of drivers do not know how to drive around cyclists.

That's actually quite statement, but I hope to explain why I feel this way. First, let me share a few videos from this month. Remember this is this month only.




That's a lot isn't it.

What's really worrying is that this is not all of the serious incidents I witness/suffered. There were several stupid overtakes into the face of oncoming traffic that haven't made it to video. There is a close passing bus that will make it to video, when I get a chance. The worst incident of all happened a few nights ago, when three cars, all in succession squeezed past me in the face of oncoming traffic. The first one was (and I have no doubt about this at all) the closest/fastest pass I have ever suffered. 

It was horrific.

I knew as soon as it happened that it was one I would be reporting to the police. Unfortunately though, my rear camera memory card had got corrupted and wasn't recording (happens sometimes on my Contour Roam if I forget to format it every once in a while) and I had forgot to properly charge my Sony AS 30V. 

I didn't have any record of probably the worst pass I had suffered. I was livid.

I've lost count of how many significant incidents I've suffered this month. I'm almost certain it has been my worst single month of cycle commuting ever.

Why was it so bad?

Is it my riding? Am I, as some people suggest, asking for these incidents to happen? Is it the weather? It has been almost constantly wet all month. Is it down to the the dark? Is it because of the recession? Are driving standards dropping?

I won't comment on my riding, that's for you to decide on, but I think all the others are contributory, and I think it is contributing to impatience. When we are impatient, be it because we are a bit pissed off with the weather, the fact we are skint, or the damn continual rain, we take risks. 

We look for gaps that we can squeeze through.
We look for a wee bit extra speed on that slow road.
We are just a wee bit more likely to hit our horn at someone in the way.

We are a little bit more likely to get pissed off that a cyclist dares to get in our way and thus we will get past them at the slightest hint of an opportunity.

And that's the issue. Opportunity.

In the past I've based my observations about the proportion of bad drivers solely on the amount of incidents I have generally. Overall, I interact with hundreds of drivers a day, and the majority of those interactions are fine. So I used to surmise that the majority of drivers are fine. However, the fact is that the majority of my interactions with drivers are....easy. For example, in many interactions there is plenty of space for the driver to overtake, or there's absolutely no opportunity for the driver to overtake. What happens though, when the interaction is hard.

What do I mean?

I mean, what happens when there is a sniff of a gap or there is possibly enough time to get past? It is at moments like these that we can define a driver (or cyclist for that matter) as good or bad. It is difficult for me to show in my videos, but I'm coming to realise that when there is a hint of an opportunity, a large percentage of drivers will take it.

So we can blame it on the weather then?

No. Well, not exactly.

The weather and the other factors are behaviour modifiers. They work towards bringing our driving down to our 'base' level (if we let it). For example, when you aren't stressed or in a rush, you are willing to leave a big buffer. However, when you are stressed it brings you down to your lowest level, the level at which you think your driving is acceptable. If you are a good driver, that level is still pretty good. If your a bad driver.....well, all of the above incidents happen if and when the half chance opportunity arises. So whilst stress leads to more example of bad driving, I don't believe it is the root cause.

The root cause is that a large percentage of drivers just don't have a clue how to drive around cyclists and, due to never having experienced it themselves, are very unlikely to understand why their driving is so bad. They don't understand that that half chance opportunity puts you on your bike in significant danger.

I was nowhere near you.

We need to stop pandering to egos and face facts. Something significant needs to happen, and it needs to happen fast.Otherwise I and others will just become the next statistic.

I honestly feel like I survived this month. I don't want to just survive another month again.

Thursday 27 February 2014

1000 More Words

Ok, not a thousand more words, but a few...

After posting my previous blog on this picture....

I got quite a response. One of the most interesting responses was from a friend of mine who lives in Edinburgh, Grant Mason. He wrote this message on Facebook, but was happy for me to share it here.

I know this road well as my daughter lives just off it. I've cycled on it. It's unforgiving for the inexperienced cyclist - how do you stay out of the door zone when passing the cars parked in the (joke that is a) 'cycle lane', when the vehicles passing you skim your elbows and force you towards the parked cars?

Yes, Edinburgh - our 'cycling-friendly city' that's anything but. Lack of investment, money wasted on pointless & potentially lethal, badly-designed infrastructure... where do I even start?

I try not to laugh when Edinburgh boasts of how much they've invested in new cycle lanes. They're NOT cycle lanes. They're parking bays. To pretend otherwise is an insult to everyone's intelligence. A dashed line means the lane can be driven in, parked in or obstructed perfectly legally.

Crazy. But come April, they'll (the government) put up a speaker for POP3 who'll lecture us on how much they've done for us and how grateful we should be for these pointless wastes of money. I bet it won't be Keith Brown, our Minister for Transport though. He chickened out last year, and his surrogate was roundly heckled. Given the total lack of progress or change since POP2 in 2013, I doubt he'll be brave enough to face the mums, dads, grannies, grandads, teenagers and kids who're still being failed by our politicians when it comes to making our roads safe enough for everyone to cycle on without fear.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

1000 Words

They say a picture can paint a thousand words. I think that is a major understatement. In fact, I  think a picture can capture an entire story. I think, it can covey very clearly the raison d'etre behind Pedal on Parliament.


This is why we need Pedal on Parliament.

This particular picture has been doing the rounds on Twitter recently......

Apologies, if the picture doesn't quite fit on my blog theme. I've made it quite big intentionally because the story is in the detail, but I'll try and summarise it for you.

Here we have a road in Edinburgh. It's a road that, I suspect, Edinburgh city council would tell us has cycle friendly infrastructure on it. Well, I suppose it does to some extent.

  • It has a sign in the distance with a bike symbol on it telling us that cyclists are welcome and expected here.
  • It has some bike symbols painted quite clearly on the road.
  • It has some road surface with a slightly different colour suggesting that this bit of the road has a different use, i.e. for cyclists specifically to use.
  • It has some dashed lines that again tell us that this bit of road serves a particular purpose, i.e. a place for cyclists to be.
All good as far as it goes. I suppose it provides us with a message of intent......We would quite like to accommodate cyclists here..... Unfortunately though, the good news ends there. It ends with good intentions and begins again with....well....I don't like swearing on my blog..... 

  • The blue sign means diddly squat.
  • The bike symbols mean diddly squat.
  • The road colouring means diddly squat.
  • The dashed lines means diddly squat.
I'm being generous here.

For a start, the bike lane is not mandatory, that is, it is not protected from the intrusion of cars. In fact parking is actively encouraged by the fact that this cycle lane also acts as a Taxi rank, and it allows parking and loading at certain times (see here). So this is a cycle lane for cyclists....except when cars or taxis are parked in it, which is probably most of the time, I suspect.

Fantastic. Well done Edinburgh.

You can bet though that when councillors give talks on the progress that Edinburgh is making towards cycle friendliness, that this lane is included in the calculations for the 'number of Kilometres of quality cycle infrastructure in Edinburgh' statistics. To be fair to Edinburgh though, it's probably the best city for cycling in Scotland.

It's far worse everywhere else.

However, it's time I stopped talking about the infrastructure and actually started talking about what this picture tells us.

What? You're not talking about the infrastructure? No I'm not. I'm talking about people.

Look closer into the picture and you see some cyclists, the closest of which is a mother and a daughter. Look at at what is actually happening to them. They were cycling along the 'protected' cycle path which ends under the car ahead. They had a choice at that point, give up and get off their bikes and walk along the pavement, or pull out (with care of course), into the traffic. The mother has decided to pull out, with the little girl to her left.

What!?!? What is that mother thinking?! Will someone please think of the poor child!?!? Not only that, but the child is not even able to go a bike properly yet. She is on a balance bike and could at any minute fall over! Call in social services!!!

Wait a minute! How did I know that the child was on a balance bike? How did I know that that bike was in fact an Islabike balance bike? And how did I know that the mother (and yes I know that is the mother) is riding a Ridgeback Cyclone known by its owner as, 'The Tank'?

That's because the little girl is my youngest daughter and the mother is my wife. Yes, if you look beyond the parked car you can see me cycling (in my kilt) with my two sons by my side.

This particular picture was taken by Andy as my family and I cycled to a nearby pub/cafe for the POP2 debrief. We had the kids on their bikes, so we tried to cycle. Carefully of course. However, just after that photo, we gave up. It just wasn't worth the stress and the hassle and we got the kids on the pavement.

It was a complete cycle infrastructure fail.

At POP we often talk about making cycling safe for 8-80. In fact that is just a set of convenient numbers. There is no reason why we couldn't make infrastructure safe from 3 to 103, so that my daughter (who is now 4 and would like you all to know that she uses a pedal bike now, thank you very much) could ride without fear.

Cycle infrastructure for a 3 year old?!

Yes. I've seen it, and I have ridden on it, in Amsterdam. I'd happily take my daughter cycling through the heart of Amsterdam, I can't say the same for any other city in the UK.

So, if you are happy that our cities are the domain of only those with cars or those with the gumption to mix with the cars, then go with the status quo. If however, you think that our cities should be for everyone, even 3 year olds, then help us call on our government to make Scotland a cycle friendly nation.

You don't even need a bike.

Thursday 20 February 2014

Turning the Volume to 11

Almost two years ago after having discussed a crazy idea with two other crazy cycle campaigners I posted this blog. This blog shared the crazy idea that it might be worth 'riding on Holyrood' to send a message to politicians that cycling safety mattered.

Totally crazy.

Perhaps, we thought, a few hundred folk would turn up, we'd make a point and perhaps we'd make an inch or so in a couple of papers. It would almost certainly be a one off.

Here we are two years later, with two POPs behind us, (3000 and 4000 attending), with a reversal in the fortunes of cycle infrastructure funding in Scotland (now increasing instead of decreasing) and a government who now understand that cycling can't just be ignored.

Time to call it a day and quit while we are ahead?

Ahead?!? AHEAD?!?

Not a chance!

The reality is that last year we had an increase in cycling deaths on our roads, and there has been little or no change in the road environment with the government is only investing a fraction of what is actually required. Yes there has been an increase in funding, but it still only amounts to a small pile of crumbs.

Change doesn't happen overnight, but one thing that is certain is that change does happen if we make a lot of noise. We just haven't made quite enough noise yet. How do we make more noise?

We need you.

In fact we need you and your friends. need you and your friends friends. We need you and your family. We need you and your work colleagues. We need you and every single person you can muster.

We need you to spread the word as far and as wide as you can, that if we turn up outside Holyrood in such large numbers that the noise becomes deafening, we can at last start Scotland's transition to a cycle friendly nation.

Please, PLEASE, PLEASE come to #POP2014. Please PLEASE, PLEASE spread the word any way you can, be it by social media, or carrier pigeon.

Please help us make Scotland, independent or not, a nation to be proud of. A cycle friendly nation.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

13 Seconds

13 Seconds. Yes 13 seconds. How much is 13 seconds worth?

For 3 drivers on Valentine's Night it was worth risking another human beings life. Mine.

Cars are not the biggest danger on our roads and neither are buses, HGVs or taxis. By far the biggest danger on our roads is impatience. Having cycled on Glasgow's roads for eight and a half years now I have come across many, many examples of driving where a road user will risk my life just to save a second or 13 from their journey time.

How do I know that impatience is the culprit and not some other factor?

I've found over the years that bad driving patterns can almost be predicted. If it is dark, people want to get home quicker. If it is pouring of rain, people want to get home quicker. If it is Friday, people want to get home quicker.

Bring all of these factors together....dark, wet, Friday night....throw in some strong winds, and add the fact that it is Valentine's night into the mix and you can almost predict that the driving will be dire. I say almost, when in fact what I should say is: CAN predict it with a high degree of certainty.

In fact I did predict it a few days ago.

I was getting ready to leave work, having shut my computer down and having put on my cycling gear. Looking out the window it was obviously dark, very wet and windy outside (average wind speed was 23mph with strong gusts). It was also a Valentine's Friday night. Thus, I sent the following tweet:

Pouring with rain. Friday night. Dark. I expect some bad driving on the way home. Experienced some this morning.
This is the driving I had experienced in the morning.

So I had made a prediction, one that I unfortunately knew was likely to come true, and come true it did. In fact I experienced quite a few episodes of poor driving that night, however, one particular incident was particularly horrible.

It was on Balmore Road, not my favourite road to cycle on, it has to be said, but one that is a direct route home, and one that would get me out of the terrible weather as quickly as possible. On the section of road where the incident occurred the lane width was about 3m (I checked on Google maps).

I am about 50cm wide when I sit on my bike. On a road like this I try to remain a minimum of 90cm to 1m from the edge of the road (this is where my wheel sits, so I extend 0.25m to the right of this). Cars, including their wing mirrors generally have a width of about 1.8m to 2m.

Let's do some adding up then, assuming the minimal dimensions.

0.9 + 0.25 + 1.8 = 2.95m

Thus, assuming that the car is touching my right arm as it passes, we take up the whole lane.

The agreed safe distance to pass a cyclist is 1m. Thus, assuming a car passes at this distance, the passing car has to sit at about 1m into the opposing lane to pass me safely.

Now let's add some realism. Let's add the wind, which was a mixture of headwind and crosswind, and which was gusty. Let's add the heavy rain. Let's add the dark. Let's add the fact that this is an unlit section of country road, and let's add the fact that on this section the road is national speed limit, meaning cars can be approaching at 60mph (sometimes above).

With all that added, and assuming that cars are approaching, would it be appropriate to pass?

Let's also assume that a matter of seconds later, let's say....13 seconds later, there was a long clear gap in the oncoming traffic which would allow for safe passing. 

The scene is set. What would any reasonable driver do? 

I know what I would do, and I know this road very well, having driven it as well as cycled it many times. I would not even consider overtaking a cyclist in these circumstances in perfect conditions. It would not even cross my mind. Therefore, and I don't think I am stretching things much here....any reasonable driver would hold back for the 13 seconds and overtake safely at that point.

Not these three.

That 13 seconds saved was important to the first driver. The 7 seconds saved was important to the second, and the 2 seconds (despite me indicating to him it was not safe to go) was important to the third.

These cars were not driven by drivers, they were driven by impatience. They just didn't care.

So if you ever happen to see any of these three cars, (YX05ZRN, SH59PGZ, SA63 JXF), don't abuse the drivers and don't shout at them. Just calmly ask them to Google their registration numbers, so that they might come across the video. Then we might find out if they still feel that 13 seconds, 7 seconds or 2 seconds were worth risking my life for.


Thursday 13 February 2014


I've written a couple of posts in the past where I attempted to keep things simple. I'll try and continue the theme of keeping things simple by making a very simple statement that hopefully will be clearly understood.

My position on the road in front of you, doesn't matter.

It's quite a short sentence and, I think, pretty clear in what it is saying.

Unfortunately with all simple statements that have been made without any preamble or detailed explanation, they probably need a qualifying the statement. However, I hope that if you reach the bottom of this blog post you will agree that the whole blog can in fact be summarised by that one statement.

I cycle on the road. I cycle on the road in a way that I feel keeps me safest. I do not cycle on the road with the aim of annoying other road users. However, I understand that occasionally happens. It happens because occasionally my road position holds up road users who happen to be behind me at that point.

Why does this happen?

Again, keeping things simple, I'll make another simple statement.

Road users generally want to get to their destination as quickly as possible.

I think this statement is pretty uncontroversial, especially during rush hour. First thing in the morning everyone is generally rushing to work. We have to be there by a set time and generally we tend to depend on circumstances allowing us to get there on time. If there a road works holding up traffic, we get delayed. If the weather has caused flooding, we get delayed. If we need to scrape the windscreen, we get delayed. If we get stuck behind a tractor we get delayed. 

If we get stuck behind a cyclist, we get delayed.

These drivers felt delayed.

Real delay? Umm, err, actually that very rarely happens, especially during rush hour. It is rare for me on the urban part of my commute (my rural part on the way to work is on very quiet back roads, and it's rare for me to see a car!) to delay a car and its driver by more than a few seconds. In fact it's not unusual for me to pass most drivers who have passed me earlier in a commute as I filter through miles of slow moving traffic.

Had the drivers in the above video held back, would I really have delayed them much?

Anyway, I digress. Cyclists can sometimes be perceived,  and on rare occasions might actually, delay people in cars slightly on their way to work.

Third statement coming up.

People generally do not like being late for work.

Once again, I don't think I am being controversial there. If we are late, we might miss a meeting. We might get in to trouble, or we might miss out on a coffee....God forbid.

Oh, go on, one final statement....

Delay is bad.

Delay cannot be tolerated and thus, anything that delays us, or appears to delay us is bad. Thus, cyclists cycling in the middle of the road are bad.

The logic, when you break it down is pretty simple.

This is a problem. The problem is that as a cyclist who cycles on roads that aren't designed for bikes (yet!), I have to take central road positions and I need to delay, or appear to delay drivers for my safety. I'm sorry, really I am, but it's a fact of life. Taking a central position is how cyclists are taught to cycle.

Hold on a minute though! Why am I even talking about why I take certain positions? Why do I need to even justify it? That is the crux of the issue. I shouldn't have to.

Where I chose to ride on the road is my business. My position is, my position. If you come across me in your travels and you see me in front of you, it is up to you to wait behind me, and if and when it is safe to do so, pass me safely.

That's it. Nothing more.

If a pedestrian is walking in the road, yes you might not like it, but you wouldn't drive past them close and at speed, just to make a point. No. You pass them safely.

If a horse is taking up your lane, you don't rev your engine as you pass. No. You pass slowly and at a distance.

If a tractor is holding you up, you don't hit your horn at them. That won't help, it's probably at its top speed already. You wait until it is safe to pass or they turn off.

Why then, when a cyclist is in a position that you don't like do you feel the need to make a point? If you don't like it call the police. If you don't like it contact your MSP. But don't, DON'T make a point with your vehicle. Don't just squeeze past. Don't take a risk with my and other people's lives.

My position doesn't matter to you, but my safety should.

Thursday 6 February 2014

Winter Glove Review - Louis Garneau

If you've been paying attention to my blog, which you should be, you'll have noticed a while back I reviewed one of two pairs of gloves that Evans Cycles asked me to review. The first review was of the Castelli Diluvio Delux gloves. I liked them then, and I still like them now. They serve the 5C -14C temperature range very well on all but the wettest of days. 

Now it's the turn of the Louis Garneau Shield Gloves.

 Looking at the the Louis Garneau website, it is suggested that these gloves have LG's top level of insulation and are for extreme conditions. A quote from the website suggests:

Popular for those who brave the extreme conditions on their bike, the LG Shield has varying insulation at different spots for the utmost in protection

They sound perfect for Glasgow!

Before I discuss the 'extreme' credentials of these gloves there are a few other specifications worth mentioning. The gloves are described as waterproof yet breathable. In fact LG on the packaging that comes with the gloves do go to some lengths to point out how breathable the gloves are. Part of that is down to a 'breathable membrane' and part of it down to the red palm mesh that can be seen on the picture above.

Are they waterproof? Yes, I'd say they are. I've been cycling in pouring rain and the rain has been held at bay.

Are they breathable? Umm, errr, hmmm. I must admit I couldn't tell much difference in the 'sweatiness' of my hands with these gloves on, compared to other gloves I've had. Perhaps they were a little less moist inside, but not so much that I particularly noticed. Personally, it doesn't bother me too much if my hands are a bit sweaty, so long as they are warm.

That brings us to the important question and the reason that most people would buy a pair of gloves like these.

Do they keep your hands warm?

Yes they do....up to a point.

The weather this winter has been suprisingly mild compared to recent winters, and whilst I've had the gloves the temperature hasn't dropped to below 2C. However, at that temperature, whilst these gloves did a reasonable job of keeping my hands warm, they weren't kept, 'extreme insulation' warm, and that's my problem with these gloves.

They aren't terrible gloves, far from it. They actually feel well made, and are very comfortable to wear, but they certainly don't provide extreme insulation. At 2C they are just about OK, and they would probably be OK down to 0C, but below that, I'd be wanting for something more. Yes that something more might just be some silk liners, but I would feel cheated with that.

If a manufacturer suggests they are for extreme weather, then 0C just doesn't cut the mustered.

Perhaps if I had reviewed these gloves a few years back I'd have been a bit kinder. However, having taken ownership of some Sealskin Lobster gloves at the start of winter, and having worn them in sub zero temperatures, and having had slightly sweaty hands in those conditions, it leaves the Louis Garneau Shield gloves wanting.

OK, I'm not quite comparing like for like. There is always going to be an advantage with the lobster design, however, manufactures need to be honest in saying that without advances in insulation technology, five finger gloves will never provide extreme protection.

If you are looking for gloves that will provide protection in the 0C-5C range that allows the use of all of your fingers, then certainly consider the LG Shield gloves. If however, you want gloves that will keep your hands warm in sub zero temperatures, then you should look elsewhere.

Monday 3 February 2014

Fastlink Cycle Provision Update

As I have discussed the Fastlink plans previously, I thought I'd pass on this message sent to me from Glasgow City Council.

This specific message was in response to my objection to the Squinty Bridge plans. These plans were removing the right to allow cyclists to use the bus lanes over the bridge. Cyclists would instead have to take a long and shared use route via the Bell's bridge instead.

The e-mail was as follows:

Dear Dr Brennan

With reference to the undernoted enquiry I confirm that a number of objections have been received regarding cycling provision along the route of the Fastlink Core Route. The objections received will now be assessed to determine if the objection raised is valid. Assessment of the received objections will require time to complete and it is proposed now to undertake this task. On completion of the assessment I propose to respond to this enquiry providing full details of the assessment and amendments to the proposals if required.

Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me directly...

Jim Fleming
Project Manager
Land and Environmental Services

Interestingly, this reply does not just mention the Squinty Bridge (otherwise known as the Finnieston Bridge or Clyde's a bridge of many names....) specifically, but instead mentions cycling provision along the route of the Fastlink Core Route

It would appear that Jim Fleming is in charge of this project. Therefore, if you think there are any issues with the cycling provision along this route (you can find the full plans here), then this might be the person to contact. Whilst this particular consultation has ended, there may still be time to register your comments about the cycling provision in general. 

Jim, who's e-mail is already advertised on the city council's web site, can be contacted here ( It wouldn't do any harm to send him a wee e-mail, would it?


Saturday 1 February 2014

Rock Bottom Glasgow

It's an unfortunate symptom of what I do, and where in the country that I am based, that this blog often comes across as very negative. I'll be honest and admit that overall I do post far more negative posts than positive ones. As hinted at in my opening sentence that is because I am a cyclist and I am in Glasgow.

I was asked recently to write a short article on the state of cycling in Glasgow for Cycling Weekly. I wrote that in the run up to Christmas, and I think whilst it was negative in the sense that Glasgow as it stands is in a poor position, it did contain some hope in that we had Frank in place and that he, as a representative of Glasgow city council was doing and saying the right things.

Since then though I had the misfortune of seeing the plans associated with the Fastlink bus route in Glasgow, and I realised that whilst Frank is a nice guy, I don't think he has any power. He is Glasgow City Councils stooge.

Keep the cyclists happy and out of our hair please Frank.

Despite my feeling on this I decided to attend a meeting organised by SEDA where there would be opportunities to chat to Frank and ask him some searching questions.

There were lots of searching questions being asked of Frank, especially with regards to Fastlink, personally though I just wanted to find out who was actually in charge of transport in Glasgow, as it's not actually obvious. Who exactly should we be talking to?

Frank admitted that transport is a complex structure in Glasgow. SPT work across multiple local councils, I suppose trying to join everything up, so they certainly have some input, but within Glasgow itself it seems to be Land and Environment services (LES). The senior politician in LES is Councillor Alistair Watson, and the non-elected Executive Director is Brian Devlin. You may have seen Brian Devlin's name on the cycling plans for Fastlink, of you were paying attention. These are names worth remembering....

Frank also mentioned that there was a Public Petitions Committee in GCC. Certainly something that we need to consider.

Cyclists in Glasgow need to start engaging with their local councillors more as well, with Frank mentioning that he knows of about 7 or 8 councillors that have some amount of interest in cycling. We need to make sure that cycling is on the radar of every councillor in Glasgow (Scotland in fact).

None of this though explains the title of this blog. Why Rock Bottom? Yesterday morning, having ridden in to work (and nearly having been knocked off my bike, but that's another story...), I attended a Bike Breakfast at my work place, the Southern General Hospital (SGH). The SGH is one of the National government's pet projects as on the site of the current hospital, a new hospital is taking shape. It's going to be huge and will be replacing two other hospitals.

As I've mentioned before when discussing Fastlink, transport to this New SGH or NSGH is going to be an issue for not just cyclists, but everybody.

Fear not though (and this is now ignoring the Fastlink cycling plans which are separate plans), with the build of the NSGH came some money, £750,000. That money would provide cycling access to the hospital by providing safe routes in the close surrounding areas (to link up with the crap beyond of course). Over time a decision was made by Sustrans to match that funding with a further £750,000, giving a grand total of £1.5m.

That's a reasonable pot of cash.

Problem is that it isn't for one route. It isn't for 2 or 3 routes. It is for 10 different routes to the NSGH. That's about £150,000 per route. Add into that, the fact that some of the money will have to cover the instillation of pelican crossings, and improved lighting, and the money actually spent on cycling comes to....not very much at all.

So I went along today fearing the worst.

Now I should point out that none of the plans I looked at this morning are actually publically available, except for viewing at this event, and I assume some other drop in sessions. I've personally seen some plans before at a previous drop in session, but nothing has ever been released beyond that. Despite this, the work is apparently going to start on some of what I saw today, in a few weeks time.

That what a consultation is in Glasgow.

The plans themselves?

Well, I took some photos and I wasn't wrestled to the floor when I did, so here are what I have.

Approach to hospital on Langlands Road

More of the approach on Langlands Road

Inside the NSGH grounds
Unfortunately this is all I got, as I unfortunately had to head off to work. Most of my time was spent chatting to the chap who designed these plans, and to two Sustrans people.

To be fair the designer chap seemed nice, he seemed genuine, and he was working on an impossible task. Make cycling safe for people coming to the NSGH on 10 routes with a tiny budget. However, he found it very hard to answer nearly all my questions without pausing, knowing that the answer he would give me wouldn't be a good one.

Is that section just paint on the road?
Umm, err, yes.
Does that dashed line next to the lane mean that it isn't mandatory, and that people can park in it?
Umm, err, yes. However, we plan to see how the situation goes, and if parking in the lane is an issue we can revisit it later on, though these things are very difficult to do....
Why not make it mandatory from the start?
Umm, err...but it is hard to do and we have little time to do it in, it needs to all be in by the time the hospital opens...
Ah, so it's a rush job?
Umm, err....not really....
How wide is the painted buffer between the parked cars and the cycle lane?
Umm, err...about 0.5m
That's not very wide is it. What about the bus stops, why does the cycle lane stop and restart at bus stops, won't there be conflict between cyclists and buses and didn't you consider bus stop bypasses?
Ummm, err...we did consider bypasses, but....
Why are you using lots of shared use paths? Is there an unwillingness to take space from cars?
Umm, err, in one area we are taking space from cars and widening the pavement a bit so it can be shared...
But there is no physical separation between pedestrians and cyclists?
Umm err, no.

To be fair the chap was nice and as I said he is designing the impossible, but what we have here is cycle infrastructure that could have been designed 10 years ago, before officers and politicians from Glasgow had been to the Go Dutch conference in Edinburgh and before they had visited Amsterdam and surrounding areas on a fact finding mission.

Why did they bother? They have learned nothing. Not a thing.

What bothers me the most about this is I did consider trying to put some political pressure on locally and nationally about this project over a year ago. I was told by one person involved in the project to hold off on doing that until later, and another from another organisation was more direct and told me to effectively 'keep my nose out'. At the time I was busy with other things, so I decided the hassle wasn't worth it and I decided to play the waiting game.

I wish I hadn't, and I am annoyed I didn't do what I felt was needed.

Is everything lost? I don't know, I really don't know. I felt so depressed when I left the bike breakfast, and there was a small part of me that said, just forget it and move on. Perhaps though all is not lost. Perhaps it's time to start asking our politicians (and that includes our national ones, as this is a national project) whether they are happy to have the 'jewel in the crown' Scottish hospital surrounded by some of the worst active travel infrastructure in the country?

We want a healthy Scotland, so we build a hospital to treat the sick, yet we can't encourage people to get there in the healthiest of ways. Perhaps this is the government's way of drumming up future business for the NSGH. Am I being too cynical?