Friday, 6 June 2014

Making Glasgow Cycle Friendly

Sometimes you have to stop complaining and start doing something...

As readers of this blog will no doubt have surmised, I'm getting a tired of picking holes in Glasgow City Council's cycling policy. Each time a new announcement is made of a new 'cycling infrastructure scheme' I feel a darkness descend over me. I know, with almost 100% certainty that it will be of very poor quality. It's generally quite depressing.

Luckily I'm actually a glass half full kind of guy, and whilst I do feel depressed looking at these schemes (read here, here and here for some examples), I always brighten my mood by thinking of things that could be done to improve things. Yes, there are many people who say, 'och, why bother....nothing will ever change'. Yes if we take that approach they are right. Nothing ever will. I'm a great believe that things will change if we all try to make them change.

What could be done though?

Well, I'm always full of hair-brained ideas, and there are plenty more of them to come, but one idea floated to the top. With the Commonwealth Games coming, and there being false promises of a lasting legacy for Glasgow, with little evidence of it, perhaps it's time to give the politicians a wake up call.

A petition is born.

A petition? What? That's not going to change anything! 

Well, I actually disagree. POP started with a petition for example and POP is now a strong grass roots movement which is powerful enough to force Transport Ministers to take heed.

A petition is an excellent way to draw a line in the sand. It sets out a position, one that isn't coming from just one or two cycle campaigners, but one that is back by people. When someone signs a petition they are saying, 'yes, I agree with this'. A petition is an excellent place to start. So a petition has been started.

At the time of writing this the petition is already standing at 696. That's impressive in such a short space of time. Not only that but it has gained the official support of Go-Bike, Strathclyde's cycle campaign and CTC Scotland (the Scottish arm of CTC). I am hoping that other organisations will lend support to.

That though, is not the most impressive thing about it. I've heard politicians dismissing online petitions in the past, as they are just too easy to sign. In fact Glasgow has an official route for petitions, one that requires actual signatures and actual writing (so 20th century!!). It's a system that has official recognition but keeps the numbers down unless you have lots of people who have lots of time to stand in the street asking for signatures. I'm sorry, the times have moved on.

More importantly though, is that having the petition online actually allows people to engage much more than the councils paper petition. People have the option (it is not required), to add some comments. So rather than being easier, it becomes a little less easy. I have to say, I have been impressed with some of the comments, especially the amount that have been coming from people who don't currently cycle but would like to. So, I'll stop writing now, and I'll let you read about some of the comments that have been made so far.

I'd like to be able to safely cycle to work, and for my ten year old daughter to cycle to school. It's simply too hazardous as things stand.
I don't currently cycle in Glasgow because there isn't a properly connected cycle infrastructure in Glasgow. I would cycle if there was one - simple!
I cycle every day, often with kids on my bike and accompanied by a child on a bike. It is often dangerous and we always have to go a ridiculously long way to school to avoid potential accidents.
I cycle every day into Glasgow using the Fastlink route which has been a nightmare during construction. The plans for the finished route seem to have no consideration for cyclists leaving a poorer facility than we currently have. I would not, in any way, encourage others to take up cycling in Glasgow. I've been doing it for years so know what to expect and still find cycling an uncomfortable experience when commuting.
After years of struggling to obtain incremental improvements for cycling in Glasgow, I think now there needs to be radical change in the Council's approach to cycling provision. What the Council builds in the name of cycling has to be vastly better than what has been seen to date.
Moved away from Glasgow because the roads are so bad for commuting by bike or for recreational use. This is a long time coming and I would welcome it being initiated.

Please help make Glasgow a cycle freindly city by telling the council what you want for Glasgow. Sign the petition and leave a comment. It is possible with your help.

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