Friday 21 April 2017

Anger Will Make me PoP

It's here! It's Pedal on Parliament weekend! I hope you're coming! (Yes that's three sentences with three exclamation marks! Opps another one....)

I feel in a exclamation mark sort of mood, I must admit, as I've just read something online that has made me angry.

Very angry.

This is probably good timing though. Being angry about what a prospective councillor in my area has said, the day before PoP Weekend (oh, should we use #popweekend on Twitter!?) is good, because I can calm down surrounded by thousands of like minded people.

Anyway, what am I so worked up about? Well, a candidate for the SNP Denis Johnston has released a statement with the following headline:

Bears Way proposals would have an adverse impact on Bearsden

Off to a great start there Denis!

You can read it yourself here.

Below I'll go through it with comments. They might be a bit...angry.

ACTIVE and safe travel is a top concern for candidates in the upcoming East Dunbartonshire Council election.
Indeed it is. You are concerned about winning votes from Mr and Mrs Angry.

The SNP is encouraging motorists to use other forms of transport, has secured an update to Active Travel Routes and is promoting rail halts across the local authority.
Ah the rail halt, the one which was scored very poor value for money in a recent analysis.
Denis Johnston, candidate for Bearsden South, said: “In East Dunbartonshire, the SNP group has a proud record of supporting policies and measures to get people across the whole local authority getting more active.
“For example, the SNP secured a commitment from the Council to update all Active Travel Routes to schools, to encourage walking and cycling to school by identifying safe routes.

Ah. This is called the 'round the houses' policy. This involves looking at where people live, looking at where the school is, and drawing a really wiggly contorted line that goes on the quietest roads you can find. Spending consists of producing maps with the wiggly lines plotted out, giving the route a name (Wiggly Way?) and putting up some pretty coloured signs. Most importantly it inconveniences car drivers the least.
“In addition, we are heavily involved in the modal shift agenda encouraging motorists to use other forms of transport and are promoting a new Allander Rail Halt with Park and Ride facilities to assist these changes.”
Ah more parking spaces at stations, which would actually increase traffic in the area, and once again, the really poor value for money rail halt. Public transport is an issue in the area. Now if we only had a decent bus service....
On the Bears Way, Denis added: “Many safety concerns have arisen after the first part of Bears Way was finished. For instance, worries at junctions and crossings. On the back of this, the SNP instigated a moratorium on the project pending a report on its safety.
Safety concerns! Wait!! Why weren't there any safety concerns about the utter, utter crap cycle lanes that were there before? Where was your (or your party's) concern then? As for safety, have you ridden it Denis? I'd be really interested to know. Did you ride it before the lane was built? I can assure you, 100%, that it is vastly safer than it was. That's why you now see kids and families riding on it, when you never did before. Sure the entrance and the exits are a bit rubbish, but....and here's the doozy.....that will only be resolved by extending it!! Oh wait, your party stopped that from happening...
“Looking ahead to the potential phase two, even more problems are leaping out, with the public questioning the complete lack of common sense in them.
A small proportion of the public whom the vast majority of which have probably never ridden a bike on a road in their lives. And what plans are their concerns based on? Well, there were some very basic proposals produced by the council, and they did some early traffic modelling. These were produced to get a feel for which proposals were preferred. There was no detail at all, just a number of options.

In fact the preferred option had a good chance of improving the function of the junctions in the area. Yes there was uncertainty, which is why the council wanted to go to the detailed planning stage. You know, the stage were you actually have some plans to base decisions on. Yes, that stage that the SNP and Lib Dems stopped being produced by the moratorium you mentioned earlier....
“For example, the section that would go down Boclair Road. This road is very busy and there is absolutely no room to fit a large cycle path in at either side. Not to mention the chaos this would cause road users during the lengthy construction period.
That road is very busy. I know, I quite often drive up and down it. So does my wife. There are though, absolutely no plans whatsoever for the cycle lane to go down (or up as it is a 12% hill) Boclair Road. It will go past the bottom of it though.
The council had a very innovative suggestion for how the Boclair junction could be improved (and would according to initial modelling actually improve it....). Had we gone to the detailed planning stage then we would have been able to make some proper decisions, but.....I think you know where I am going here.....the SNP and Lib Dems blocked the the detailed planning stage. So we are left with your, and Mr and Mrs Angry's hearsay.

“The SNP overwhelmingly supports residents cycling, but rather across the whole of East Dunbartonshire, instead of one single route, which looks doomed to fail at significant cost to the public.”
Oh boy. Oooooh boy.

Where exactly do you 'overwhelming support' residents (I suspect as someone who lives in East Dunbartonshire, but not in Bearsden, that I don't count as a resident....what about people from Glasgow, or elsewhere...?) cycling? On the back roads out of the way? Yup. On a main arterial route, which is a main arterial route....for the very reason.... that its the most efficient road to travel on from A to B, which unfortunately, and rather annoyingly for important people in cars, is where people want to travel on bikes... No.
Mind you, you have a point. Cycling should be safe across the whole of East Dunbartonshire, not just along the A81, but this is where your argument falls down (well it sunk ages ago...). The A81 will hopefully be a part of a network. That network will consist of spokes. That is, arterial routes. These spokes will connect to other areas, some of which would have segregated lanes (which unfortunately might force drivers to keep to the speed limits) some would have 20mph speed limits (damn, speed limits again), filtered permeability, where some routes have to be closed to cars reducing rat running etc.
For this whole plan to work, you need Bears Way. Then, you need another Bears Way, Then another, and then you look at all the other improvements that allow people to get to and from the spokes that take them to the places they want to go.

This is how transport works!

It cannot work without Bears Ways! Unless you have some new innovative way of making towns and cities cycle friendly, which the rest of the world has missed? Elevated cycle ways perhaps?

As for 'doomed to fail, and 'significant cost the public'....Do you actually understand the huge costs to society that increased levels of driving, and the resulting pollution brings? Do you actually have a handle on the relative spend on cycling and walking compared to road building in this country? Do you understand the power of 4 relationship between road damage and axle weight which results in cars doing significant damage to the roads, where cyclists do practically none?  Do you understand the societal costs to health of a sedentary lifestyle? Do you understand the cost of thousands of people being injured and killed by bad driving every year?!

I'm going to hazard a guess.... no.

And finally....'doomed'. Well, yes, it might be. Why? Not because there are any significant flaws in the project or the vision,....sure its not perfect, it needs tweaked here and there, oh and extended....... but because people like you don't listen to facts. You listen to Mr and Mr Angry and you think....hmmm, how can I get a few extra votes so that I can get elected to council? Honestly, that is how this comes across.

Anyway, thanks for helping me write my short speech that I will be giving at PoP Glasgow. I honestly, seriously hope you will come and join us, so you can see what an 'adverse impact' really looks like. I think you'll find it looks like a people friendly Scotland.

What I do ask, is that anyone who is reading this, who is a resident of East Dunbartonhsire, please seriously consider who you want to put a 1,2, or 3 against on the ballot papers...and seriously consider who you want to put the largest number against.....


  1. Ah Bearsden just a 20 minute bike ride from the West End. What? Takes you longer than that in a car - quite possibly as I often see cars clogging up the streets around Charing Cross where I live. We're a remarkably tolerant bunch in Glasgow, just over 30% of households own a car, and most of the time we have vast open streets, with hardly a car being driven in sight. But twice a day bedlam in a car it can take 20 minutes to get from where the car was parked to the Motorway, even longer to get from St Georges Cross to Anniesland, or Canniesburn Toll to Crow Road. Take a look at Dave's videos on the cycle-lane-free Switchback Road - in a 10 minute ride he overtakes around 500 cars. Funny thing us that only happens in the mornings and evenings.

    But let's get back to Glasgow, and the dreadful pollution and dangerous nuisance of that twice a day invasion of cars, each taking up a minimum of 10 sq metres for each individual person in each individual car, which us then parked in car parks, where allowing for the access ramps etc requires at least 20 sq metres per parked car - spaces that are often occupied all day by one car at a derisory rate of return compared with the earning power of the same plot used for retail, offices, hotels or housing. At a rough estimate there are around 20,000 off street parking spaces in the city centre. Few people who live in Glasgow use them (remember just under 70% of us enjoy the financial benefits and freedom of not owning a car - note that many of us still drive probably nicer and certainly newer cars than our car-owning friends) what happens is that between 4 and 5 pm every weekday that 20,000 car 'reservoir' breaches and floods on to the streets. Even at an optimistic 6 seconds per car getting away on say 10 core routes in 2 lanes that makes at least 100 minutes (approaching 2 hours) for the car at the back of the queue to get clear of the 'car park' With all this harm and nuisance (and cost) borne by us Glasgow residents the solution of closing down the car parks, or managing their use better looks a very promising prospect, and one a few of the Glasgow candidates have on the agenda.

    To illustrate the 'Homer Simpson' mindset of one of the drivers who used to make use of the free parking outside my house before the CPZ regime was delivered and the mass of badly parked cars vanished overnight. He drove in to Glasgow from Dunblane - he had to arrive before 07.30 to secure the parking space, and avoid the gridlock on the A80/M8, so he ate breakfast and read the paper/listened to the news in his car (and like many others dumped his rubbish in our garden/at the roadside) before heading off for his work at 08.45. To do this he must have needed to get up before 06.00 and away from Dunblane by 06.30. At night the queue to get out from my local streets could keep a driver trapped for 20 minutes to travel barely 200 metres to join the road going to the motorway. Had he used the train he's have had at least one hour longer in bed in the mornings and been home earlier by an equivalent amount. The running costs alone for the car that was parked for over 10 hours a day outside my house doing nothing would have amply covered his rail fare!

    Remember no one is required to provide any road space for parking - roads are for moving traffic of all types including pedestrians and cyclists, and the metric needs to be on the number of people and amount of goods being moved rather than the vehicles. perhaps sometime we arrange a trial with a cordon line on the Switchback Road (with no cyclelanes) and measure how many people can be moved through the cordon by bike and by car in a 20 minute window (with the facility to keep the supply of cars/cycles maximised by sending them back via the other carriageway to ride/drive through the cordon) Could be an interesting result

  2. If Wikipedia is correct, then Bearsden is the 7th richest postcode area in the UK, and a "middle-class commuter suburb" whose "residents travel daily into Glasgow." Of these, 73% make the 9km trip into town by car.
    I don't know the A81, nor the detailed design plans of the separatist infrastructure that you propose, but I suspect M. Johnson understands his would-be constituents only too well. That he pays lip service to promoting active travel, while dog-whistling the opposite to the electorate is nauseating, but hardly surprising in a contemporary populist.
    Such "leadership" beckons disaster. But as your other commenter suggests, effective measures to reduce dependence on motor travel, such as taxing parking in the centre of Glasgow, or excluding the private car altogether, would be likely be more important in tackling at source the reason why cycling on the A81 is currently unpleasant.