Sunday 4 September 2016

Bearsden and Milngavie - Not for Children.

Last week I attended a very aggressive and very depressing public meeting which was supposed to be focusing on the Phase 2 design of the Bears Way Cycle Lane. I honestly cannot put into words how utterly shameful the event was. It was the most intimidating atmosphere I have ever experienced at a meeting, in my life.
This is not, of course, how the local paper describes it. It focuses on the outrage of the braying mob at being held up a little, and the positioning of the projector. They didn't mention any of the reasonable facts that the council shared to counter the many unsupported assertions from the angry mob. They didn't mention the resounding 'NO!' to the question, should children be able to ride along the A81. They didn't mention the fact that people were saying that, 'if you don't live in the area, you don't have a say'.

I'm not going to link to the website article. It's just click bate. 

Rather than me trying to describe the meeting, I ask you to spare at least 10 minutes of your time to listen to some of the audio from the event. The audio is longer, and if you can, it is all worth listening to all of it (and the second half is linked at the bottom if you want the whole lot), but I can understand if you want to stop at about 10 minutes. Here it is here. On listening to this you will understand why I use words like lynch, braying and mob. I do not use them lightly.

It's pretty shocking isn't it. I'm sorry you had to listen to that.

Anyway, I will leave the rest of this blog to a guest blogger. He specifically answers one of the criticisms about access for emergency services. Many suggest, 'lives will be lost because the road is narrower and thus emergency vehicles will be held up'. He also answers many other points as well.

The following is written by Dr Robbie Coull  Pre-Hospital Immediate Care Doctor. He has agreed that I can share this with you.

The Bearsway cycle path is an excellent path that will really enhance the future health of the generations living in Bearsden and Milngavie. Thanks to the team at Bears Way and Sustrans and EDLC for making this possible.
As an advanced trained driver (IAM and blue light) who regularly uses the A81, I can give my expert opinion that the road is entirely safe. The only accident I've attended on the A81 was as the Hillfoot end of the Bearsway and was due to excess speed on a bend in the wet by the driver. ED Police have confirmed that all accidents on the new road have been due to such driver errors.
Having driven on the A81 in Hillfoot and Milngavie since 1986 when I first took my test, and passing my Institute of Advanced Motorists test in the area in the 1990s, it is my expert opinion that the old A81 was dangerous due to the excessive speeds being used on four narrow lanes. 36-40mph was the norm on the road for as long as I have been driving on it.
The Bearsway redesign means the A81 Hillfoot cannot be driven safely at speed in excess of the speed limit. I drive it at 25-30mph in good conditions. If you find the road 'feels' dangerous, then you should reduce your speed by 5-10mph and see how that feels. Remember to turn off the road over the cycle path at very low speed, checking for cyclists ahead and behind as you approach.
I'm happy to do ride along for anyone who is struggling.
There were concerns raised about older people and the disabled. Both groups can cycle given the correct infrastructure, and removing cars from the road improves the driving and parking for people with chronic illness that must use a car.
There were concerns raised about the buses. The buses were struggling to move once stopped and stopping on the carriageway shortens bus journeys. The average queue behind a stopped bus is 2-4 vehicles.
There were concerns raised about crossing the road if you have a disability or are frail because of the cycle safety kerb at Reid Ave. I've checked the route, and there are gaps in the safety kerb to allow crossing at Reid Ave as well as other points for bus stops along the route. This is now safer than before due to the slower speed and less lanes of traffic.
It was mentioned that cyclists are crashing into the architecture (bollards etc). While this may well to apocryphal (I've not come across any cases), if true it is still safer than crashing into cars due to the much lower Killed Seriously Injured (KSI) rates. This also applies to head on cycle collisions should any occur.
There were some wild fantasies about cyclists chatting, hitting the kerb and being thrown into traffic that can be discounted as much less of a risk than the old cycle paths.
There seemed to be a lot of anger at the meetings from groups of much older residents who reported increased journey times. I found this odd, as this demographic have less reason to be concerned about journey times than those working, looking after children etc..
Journey times are going to be increased from road calming meaning that excessive speeding that was the norm is now much more difficult. Complaining about not being able to break the law is not an acceptable concern.
Journey times will also be increased from lane reduction to clear space for vulnerable road users. This reduction is not great, and is a price that any right thinking person will see as a reasonable sacrifice to ensure a better environment and better health for our children and grandchildren. In civilised societies, the views of those not willing to make small sacrifices for the future generations are rightly discounted.
Furthermore, the mob of angry, bullying, rude people shouting down experts, ridiculing scientific evidence, and booing the idea of children cycling on cycle paths, devalued their standing in our society. Loud ignorant views are also rightly discounted when health and safety planning are being considered.
When an angry mob who's average remaining life expectancy is 10-20 years demand that their views should outweigh those of children who will be using the cycle path for the next 80 years, and those views are based on minor inconvenience and a desire to continue to break traffic laws, then we need to stand up to such bullies and say 'No, your behaviour is selfish, rude, and unacceptable in a civilised society'.
There is a follow up meeting this Wednesday 7th September in Milngavie Town Hall at 7pm . Wouldn't it be fabulous if we had more reasonable voices there? Voices that call for safe infrastructure for all, and not just for those in cars? Voices that realise that children have as much right to independent, safe travel, as any adult?

Please come to the meeting. Please write to the council ( to let them know you support what they are doing, even though it might not be perfect yet.

Please help us make East Dunbartonshire a cycle friendly area.

The following is the audio from the Q&A session toward the end of the meeting.


  1. Got as far as 2min 52sec. God! I'm depressed. Keep going mate! Yes I'm originally from the East Riding of Yorkshire and I live & work down in London but you have my admiration and respect. Keep fighting, we'll get there in the end.

  2. Just wait until they learn that the law set down that the Council is only required to provide roads for moving traffic. (Section 1.9 Roads Scotland 1984 IIRC). Then enforce s.129.2, s.129.5 & s.137 Highways Act 1980. Should be fun!

    Being kids along to the next meeting!