Tuesday 30 September 2014

A Cycle Friendly Glasgow? Any Time Soon?

Today I took the afternoon off work to attend a meeting at Glasgow city council. This meeting was a follow up to the Cycle Friendly Glasgow Petition. It's taken a while to organise (the referendum got in the way a tad), but today myself, representatives from Go-Bike, Freewheel North, and grass roots cyclists (representing signatories) met with Cllr Frank McAveety (cycling Czar), and Cllr Alistair Watson (closest thing GCC has to a head of transport) and a few of the cycling council officers.

I'm going to write this meeting up in full at some point in the future, but there were a few specific things said at the meeting that I felt I should share now.

Alistair Watson said, that he would 'not make any commitments to future spending on active travel.' Not now, and not ever.

To be fair, Alistair said that he didn't have the power to do that, and despite us asking several times who did, we never got a clear answer. Therefore, we remain at a complete loss about whether there is actually anyone, or any specific group who has the power to agree this, or if it will ever be a realistic prospect.

There will be no commitment from Glasgow City Council on spending on active travel any time soon I'm afraid. 

When we pointed out that Glasgow currently has no actual targets (or even any aspirations!) for levels of cycling (there is an aspiration for more cycling, but no numbers attached to it) the only answer we received was that, '...we are serious about making targets', though there was no target given for the date by which they would set the targets. How can we measure progress if there is no targets by which to measure progress, or lack of?!?

They are serious about making targets though....

Finally, the lack of public consultation was, according to the cycling officers, due to the short time scales that they have to work on planning and implementing infrastructure. The time scales were short due to the fact that there is no consistent money and no overall planning. What money there is tends to come, when it comes, and not through design (i.e. Sustrans money etc). There just 'wasn't time for public consultation'. When we suggested to the councillors that if they planned long term, and they were willing to commit council funds over a longer term, then this would allow for proper consultation. This in turn would mean there would be a greater chance that the projects would actually be what were actually needed......At this point they once again pointed out that they couldn't commit to future funding.

Edinburgh council can. Why can't Glasgow?

There is more, but....its been a long day and a slightly depressing meeting. The rest will come later and perhaps after I get a promised official response to the petition and today's meeting.

I am grateful that the councillors and the cycling officers gave up their time to talk to us. They let me give a presentation and they listened to what we had to say. Unfortunately, as I often say to my kids, there is a big difference between hearing and listening.......


  1. It sounds like there is not a mechanism for long-term marking of capital spending, is that it? Do not cities usually have a capital plan? Of the money spent by a city, much goes to running its services, but usually also a capital plan, used for capital projects. Our council is just presenting and getting ready to vote on this year's capital plan. All itemized into departments, including transportation, further itemized into items including Active Travel. Wouldn't any city that does capital spending have this mechanism to do this?

  2. Shameful. Expected, but shameful nonetheless.

  3. They have targets to set targets, but what they need is a plan to have a plan. Specifically, a plan where active travel is a fundamental part of the transport budget rather than a potential leftover when they've done with the cars and buses.
    Active travel must be prioritised at least as highly as anything else or nothing will happen, but for the good of the city and the people in it it needs to happen.

    I wonder what The Powers That Be's thesaurus will come up with next for an increasingly woolly concept for sort of maybe kind of wanting something to possibly, like, you know, happen?