Monday 30 October 2017

Bear Way Extension? Not Likely!

Here is a short e-mail trail between myself and my MSP Rona Mackay concerning the active travel discussion in Holyrood tomorrow (31st October some time ater 2pm), and the extension of Bears Way. I'll leave the e-mails here without further comment, unless you want to add your own....

Dear Rona,
Following on from my questions on Twitter, I was wondering if you will 
be attending the active travel debate on Tuesday at Holyrood?
I am very concerned with the state of active travel in East 
Dunbartonshire. I have heard from very reliable sources, that the SNP in 
the region do not want to consider extending the Bears Way cycle lane 
past its current location. This is particularly concerning considering 
recent data released demonstrating that the majority of cyclist 
incidents (resulting in injury) occur in the area of phase 2.
You can see the data for yourself at this link 
Bears Way phase 1 was a great start, but on its own provides no 
significant safety to those cycling through the area, as they still need 
to cycle on the road in the most dangerous areas. The extension of Bears 
Way is absolutely vital to the area in which traffic congestion will 
only serve to get worse with the new builds in the area. 
I would be very grateful if you could attend the debate and address some 
of these issue.

Reply from Rona:

Dear David,
Thanks for your email. I asked you to email as I prefer not to enter into constituent discussions on social media. I hope you understand and didn't want you to think I was ignoring you.
To answer your question, I am not taking part in tomorrow's debate on Active Travel. I am speaking in another debate tomorrow which is more directly related to my work on the Justice Committee.
With regard to Bears Way, I think you know my stated position - and that of the SNP group on EDC who voted to postpone the extension before the May election - that I am not in favour of extending it until the problems with Stage 1 have been addressed. How long this will take, and if indeed anything has been progressed on that front, I will have to ask the Council, which I am happy to do on your behalf.
I am fully supportive of Active Travel and I am happy that the Government is taking this forward as a priority throughout Scotland. However, I maintain my position that Bears Way is extremely badly designed and I do not believe it serves the best interests of cyclists, motorists or pedestrians.
I know it is unlikely you will agree with me on this, but I hope you respect my position.

My reply:

Hi Rona,
Many thanks for your reply. Of course I respect your position on this, 
however I do wholeheartedly disagree with it. As someone who finds phase 
1 Bears Way the safest and most enjoyable part of their commute, I find 
it hard to understand what problems with phase 1 would justify a 
moratorium on the design and implementation of phase 2, something that 
the crash data demonstrate is desperately needed.
I would be the first, and probably was the first 
( to 
criticise some aspects of Bears Way. It certainly isn't perfect. 
However, it is far superior to what was there before. As I have ridden 
on it over time, and seen others (including many children) riding on it, 
I have come to realise that despite its minor flaws, it is a huge 
benefit to those who use it and who could potentially use it, if it was 
Just recently the Cycle Embassy of Great Britain, a well respected UK 
wide campaign group, rode on the lane and gave it its approval 

Considering that the overwhelming majority of the cycling community 
support the extension of the cycle lane (I could provide a list of 
organisations if you require it), could you please list for me what 
issues that the EDC SNP group have with phase 1? Also, if the resolution 
of the issues on phase 1 are all that is holding up phase 2, can I ask 
what work your councillors have been conducting, and what internal 
communications they have been making on behalf of constituents to 
resolve these issues? I have seen a lot of public discussion with 
regards to the shared space on Kirkintilloch (which I might add, I am 
not a huge fan of), but absolutely nothing with regards to progressing 
Bears Way.


  1. Thanks for the updates - I've only seen the Bears Way on street view and in videos but I'm sure many places in Scotland would gladly have this "extremely badly designed" piece of infrastructure built in their area!

    Perhaps you should ask her if she thinks the previous painted lanes were better or worse than what you have now.

    I also like the bit about it not serving the best interests of cyclists, motorists or pedestrians. Unless you make it a 6 lane motorway with a wide cyclepath plus pavements you're never going to serve everyone's best interest. Pretty sure no road in Scotland even has that...

    Interesting to see the collision data. There's no recorded collisions along the Bears Way either before or after it was introduced (although maybe fewer people cycled on that road before it was there?).

    But further down the road at the phase 2 section, there's 11 collisions, including a slight one in 2016. So basically the council have done the easy bit in delivering phase 1 where there was enough road space. However they don't want to implement the most important section, which will greatly reduce cyclist injuries, because of the motorist backlash.

    Have you considered contacting your list MSPs, especially opposition parties, to see if they are speaking in the debate?

  2. From Conservative list MSP, saying,erm..not much

    Thank you for your concern,

    The Scottish Conservatives are committed to increasing participation in active travel. Active travel brings a wide of range benefits; from cutting carbon emissions to tackling obesity.

    The SNP Government have not made significant progress in the uptake of walking and cycling as a mode of transport, as they are on track to miss their target of 10 per cent of journeys by bike by 2020. We believe that they have fallen short of their promises and more needs to be done urgently, in order to encourage people to cycle.

    Unfortunately, physical inactivity contributes to over 2,500 premature deaths in Scotland each year. Cycling and walking have been proven time and time again to tackle this problem and reduce levels of obesity. Recent results from a five-year study of 250,000 UK commuters showed that regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41 per cent, the incidence of cancer by 45 per cent and heart disease by 46 per cent.

    We want to work with local authorities and third sector partners on improving our cycle path network by investing an additional £5m in active travel. Establish one segregated cycle route in each of Scotland’s cities, and also support safe travel routes to schools.

    Thank you for contacting me once again.

    Kind Regards,

    Maurice Golden MSP