No point in posting random pictures of course, so I selected some very interesting (to me at least) pictures which I think tell a story. I think the following pictures bring some perspective to my grumps and misgivings about cycle infrastructure in Glasgow.
I was playing with Google Maps, as you do, and I was interested in the 'Bicycling' option that you get if you zoom in to certain areas. If you are looking at an area, say a city, for which Google has cycle infrastructure information, you get a map of green. At least, you get a map of green if there are decent cycle routes (I do not know how they classify decent!) So how does Glasgow look when you compare it to other cities around the world?
I'll start with some obvious comparisons and throw in a couple of interesting ones. Then I'll say what I think the pictures say. All the maps are at the same scale.
First the disclaimer. I have absolutely no idea how Google defines bike paths, and I certainly have no idea how it defines 'cycle-friendly roads'. Looking closely at Glasgow I know for a fact that at least some of these so called 'cycle friendly roads, are far from it! Thus, we can't read too much into the maps. Direct measurements of the amount of high quality infrastructure are not possible. For example I know 99% of Amsterdam's infrastructure is better than 99% of what Glasgow has!
However, looking at these maps, something struck me. It wasn't just the mass of green on nearly all of the non-UK maps, it was something more. Look closer....
On nearly all of the non-UK maps, just by looking at the green lines, you get an idea of the layout of the city. You can work out where the centre is by just looking at the green lines. They generally radiate and occasionally circle the city centre. In comparison, if you look at Glasgow, which I think (even ignoring my bias) is the worst of the UK cities I've listed, there is absolutely no pattern to the green whatsoever. Look at the green only and you'd be hard pressed to pinpoint the centre.
Why is this?
Glasgow and other UK cities are pretty damn poor at building and investing cycle infrastructure. It's actually quite embarrassing looking at these images. For a city Glasgow's size the lack of infrastructure is quite shocking (the scale of each image is the same).
However, it goes beyond the amount of infrastructure. The green you see on nearly all of the cities where it radiates from the centres look..... planned. The images scream...PLANNED... at you. Each city is systematically working towards creating (or already has) a viable network of safe routes ,not just in the areas that it is easy or cheap to implement, but where it is needed, i.e. on all the arterial routes of the cites.
I know for a fact that Glasgow doesn't have a plan. I know for a fact that it spends other people's money on bits and pieces, here and there without any overarching forethought. Thus, we end up with a city that does not look inviting to anyone looking at the Google 'Bicycling' tab. There is no way you could actually plan a journey to get from A to B in the city and remain on the green routes.
So, when I arrange to meet councillors over the next month or so I'll be making this quite clear to them. We need investment AND we need planning. In fact we need planned and recurring investment. The time for piecemeal cycle infrastructure is over.
Anything else and we are resigning Glasgow to many more years as the sick man of Europe.