What has Glasgow City Council been doing for cyclists?
I asked a number of very specific questions:
How much of the councils own transport budget was spent on cycling infrastructure in the last five years?
Of that, how much was spent on quality cycle infrastructure, that at the very least meets the minimum requirements of 'Cycling by Design' (a document that is itself in need of improvement)?
I would also like to ask you to look at this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQmcdSXJeAo). Are you happy with the standard of this new facility? Do you think that this facility improves the safety of cyclists, and do you think this is money well spent?
Also, can you tell me how much money the council is investing out of its transport budget in the facilities that are being put in place around the new Southern General Hospital?
I also asked about the city councils approach to segregated infrastructure:
Do you agree that it would be a preferred way of keeping cyclists safe on roads where there is potential conflict with motor vehicles?
Do you agree that in general, some space needs to be taken from the motor vehicle to not only improve the safety of cyclists in Glasgow, but also to improve the city centre environment?
Whilst I was on holiday I received a reply. Here it is:
|£3 m||£2.6 m||£3.3 m||£1.3m||£3.5m|
I'm not going to pick apart the letter in detail. I will though pick up on a few critical points.
My original letter was addressed to a politician, but a council officer replied. Now that isn't entirely unusual, however, I think it is important for me to point out that I don't think the issue is with the cycling officers. Far from it. I think they work in difficult conditions with little political support or funding. Therefore I was disappointed that there was no reply from the councillor himself.
I'll be very interested to see how 'promotion' of the parking restrictions on Langlands Road (I couldn't see many when I cycled it) will make a difference, though I'll certainly revisit the area in the near future to see how that pans out.
The partnership money that is mentioned is Renfrewshire's money, as far as I can make out. It isn't Glasgow's money. I am also pretty sure that this is for infrastructure outside of the Glasgow boundary. Happy to be corrected about that if I am wrong, but I am 99% sure I'm not.
With regards to infrastructure, the use of the words 'where possible' say it all. Cycling by Design is a document that sets out minimum standards. In fact even these standards are way out of date, so in effect GCC are admitting that they install infrastructure that doesn't even meet out of date minimum standards. Fantastic.
Finally, with regards to funding, my question has not been answered at all. They list total money allocated for cycling and walking. So some of this money will not be on cycling (though spending on walking is good of course). It would also appear to contain money from outside sources, i.e. Sustrans money, Cycling, Walking & Safer Streets (CWSS), and spends that occurred as part of national level infrastructure projects (and possibly some other sources).
I'd asked how much of their transport budget they had spent in the last 5 years.
Thus we don't actually have an answer. However, we can get a hint at the answer thanks to the good work of Spokes. Each year they carry out a survey of Scotland's councils to get a handle on cycling spend. You can find this information here in the last bulletin of every year. It's worth a look.
The figures are complicated, but there is one headline figure that stands out. In the years 10/11, 11/12, 12/13, Edinburgh council spent £2.23m of their own transport funding on cycling. The yearly figure has actually been rising despite the actual transport total falling. Glasgow has spent approximately £0 of its transport budget on cycling.
Yes, that's right, diddly squat.
OK, so it would be remiss of me not to look beyond that headline figure, and yes Glasgow has spent some other of its own money on cycling over these three years. However, this has been part of big ticket projects such as the East End Regeneration Route (EERR) project where some money HAD to be spent on active travel. These projects were happening anyway and cycling only, pardon the pun, came along for the ride.
Looking at the figures alone, and this is the real headline, it is obvious that Edinburgh is planning. It is setting aside a budget and increasing it over time. Glasgow is spending what it has to on the back of big road projects (oh yes, we'd better put something in for the cyclists) or what it can cobble together from other sources.
Glasgow is the city where approximately 50% of households don't have access to a car. Glasgow is the city with the incredibly poor health record. Glasgow is the city with severe pollution problems. Glasgow is the city where the lead councillor claims to be 'investing in making cycling safer'.
It's time we let the politicians know what we think of Glasgow's approach to cycling. It's time we called for a minimum of 5% of the transport budget to be spent on cycling infrastructure. It's time to sign this petition (as many of you have already) and let the leaders of the council know that now is the time to invest in the future of what could be a happy, health and environmentally friendly city.