Tuesday 7 November 2017

Political, Will or Won't

Today I received a response from Rona Mackay in relation to the questions I asked previously. You can find the response below.

Hi David,

Sorry for the delay in replying to you on this matter. Here is the council response to your questions:

On phase 1 there were serious concerns about the safety of the design, particularly at road junctions and crossings. Given these concerns, the SNP group made a manifesto commitment to make phase 1 of the project safe, and to this end we have discussed with the roads department the following outcomes:
a) The cycle way will be reinstated more prominently by Cala before they leave the site.
b) Where the separation zone juts out we will put in reflectors (this is particularly useful for motorcyclists).
c) Extra clear warnings when there is an access across the cycle lane.
d) Extra bollards at McDonalds.
In addition to the above, the off main road phase (Kessington to Maryhill Road) was reported to the PNCA Committee on Thursday and agreed on. This will be in relation to Traffic Regulation Orders prior to signs being put into use.
In relation to Phase 2, with the complexity of the layout of the A81 at the junctions with Boclair Rd and ASDA it is envisaged that only bigger problems will emerge. At this time there does not appear to be any political will within the council to revisit the next phase of the project.
I know that you will be disappointed regarding Phase 2, but should there be any developments in this regard, I will contact you immediately.

Best wishes,

There are a couple of things of note. First off, there are 4 issues with phase 1 listed. One is that they think there needs to be some reflectors fitted. Secondly, they think some bollards need fitted. Thirdly they think some signs need added and finally the junction at Cala (Allander sports centre junction) needs reinstated to what it was before.

Remember Rona stated that phase 2 wasn't going ahead because of major issues with the lane.....

OK, so lets get b), c) and d) out of the way first. Very simple, minor changes. Will they make any difference at all? Almost certainly not. Total waste of tax payers money, if you ask me. However, if it means we can go ahead with phase 2, yeah, lets get some reflectors, bollards and signs.

a) is a little more interesting. This junction is described on the Cycling Embassy of Great Britian's blog (11th picture down). Yes, it isn't perfect and Cala, who are doing some house-building nearby dug this junction up and made it worse (what you see now). It needs a bit more of a ramp (OK quite a bit more), some different colouring for the lane and perhaps a slight narrowing of the cycle lane itself (not something I normally ask for!). So actually, what I and Friends of Bearsway want, is more work than the councillors want. They just want it re-instated to what it was before, with a lower ramp and no coloured lane.

But hey, we sort of agree.

Wait though, this is a relatively minor alteration of this junction. Yes it might make a big difference, but the actual alteration is minor. So, umm...what are the major changes to phase 1 that are required before phase 2 can begin? Some reflectors, bollards, signs and a slight change to one junction!?!?

I wonder how much snagging is required on every road build. Do they stop completion of roads until the first has been fully snagged and are perfect?!?!?

Hauld yer breeks though....there's more. They mention the' off road phase at Kessington/Maryhill'. Well, ok....but this is actually a completely separate issue. Nothing to do with Bears Way at all. Completely and utterly separate. So I've no idea why this was mentioned here.

Then comes the rub.

I'll summarise

We think phase 2 might be difficult, so we would rather not do it, thank you very much. Making active travel a real alternative, so that it's not just for the brave, is just too darn difficult. Sure, there are more cyclist injuries in the area where phase 2 would go, but we are more concerned about getting voted in by Mr and Mr Angry of Bearsden and Milngavie at the next election, than actually giving two tosses about active travel. Traffic levels might well be increasing in the area, pollution is a big issue, oh yeah and so is congestion and yeah, our national party wants more active travel, but.....we are concerned if we allow it to go to design stage, that we might get a good design and we might actually have to annoy Mr and Mrs Angry and give it the go ahead....So, we'll bury our heads in the sand and hope it all blows over.

I think that just above covers the last two paragraphs.

Actually I can summaries it with two words extracted from the e-mail

Political Will.

Actually its quite unusual for a politician to admit that they just don't want to do it. No actual reason given, just that...nah...not for us, thanks. So we have a national party saying that active travel is a national policy and we have an MSP of that national party sending me a response that completely and utterly goes against national policy.

Hello Transport Minister, are you reading this!?!?

So, that's it then. Time to pack our bags, and give up on the lost cause that is East Dunbartonshire.....well, ....no. Quite the opposite.

First off, if you live in East Dunbartonshire, contact your councillors and MSPs (of every party) and let them know that this is not acceptable. You can do that easily here. It's time to find 'the political will'. I'm not just talking to you, the resident of East Dunbartonshire though. I'm talking to everyone else in Scotland. Contact your MSPs and tell them that you are shocked by what you see happening in East Dunbartonshire. Let them know that you will not accept that attitude where you live.

Finally, contact Humza Yousaf (his e-mail is scottish.ministers@gov.scot Just add FAO Humza Yousaf). I actually think Humza gets active travel and I'm excited by the national changes that are occurring, but if he has councillors and MSPs from his own party that are rebelling against national party policy, that needs to be dealt with, right?!

Oh and you, yes you, cycling campaigns, cycling orgs etc. You don't get off scot-free either. It's time for you to make your voice heard as well. What do you think about this approach? Is it acceptable? Should we just abandon all hope in East Dunbartonshire, or will you help me lobby the council, and all the parties in the area to find this missing 'political will'?

We sit on the edge of a great opportunity to truly take Scotland's transport system into the 21st century. However, if we sit back and expect politicians to make the leap, without being pushed, we will find ourselves falling back into the car dominated abyss. So take this stand with me. Let's help give our politicians the political will, to make East Dunbartonshire, and Scotland, cycle and people friendly.


  1. So they're going to put some reflectors, warnings and bollards on the safest section of the road to make it even "safer" - yet the more dangerous section is just being left alone! Keep pushing with the accident data angle in phase 2.

    Given the serious concerns about junction/crossing safety in phase 1, has there been any accidents reported with cars crossing the cycle way?

    And surely with the two junctions mentioned being 4-way traffic lights, it shouldn't be too difficult to incorporate signals for cyclists as well, like in London? Even if cyclists get delayed at the lights at least the rest of it would be better than just now.

  2. Not sure why some one from Torrance wants to mess up the Roads in Milngavie or Bearsden For his information population of Milngavie is 13000 and more than 40% are over the age of 65 some of these I am sure they like to Cycle however when they are lying in an ambulance trying to get to a Hospital in a hurry no doubt they will have second thought regarding cycle tracks. I do feel sorry for our emergency service drivers who have to cope with this Road

    1. The current congestion problem stems from excess motor traffic. If we provide a safe environment in which anyone can can use people friendly transport then it gives an alternative to taking the car for short trips. This frees up road space for drivers who really need to take the car, and of course ambulances.

      Aging people will likely face the problem of not being safe to drive anymore. If there's no alternative then they will either be trapped in their own home or drive when they shouldn't. We need to give these people a means to maintain their independence. Friends of Bears Way have touched on this issue: https://friendsofbearsway.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/beyond-driving-transport-flexibility/

    2. Anonymous - you've obviously not seen the videos of ambulances and police cars using the cycle superhighways in London in an emergency!

      BTW the emergency services were consulted in the planning stage and raised no concerns, and haven't reported any issues since it opened.

  3. Have any of you contributed to the Milngavie town centre strategy which is out for consultation. The reason I ask is there is no mention of cycling groups,there was a recent consultation about cycling in the precinct and the town centre strategy has expanded to incorporate Lennox park and Woodburn way.

  4. Interesting view on the matter. In a lot of the comments on YouTube, you see people asking for a more Dutch approach. Coming from the Netherlands and currently writing a piece on the dangers these days of our famous cycle paths, it is worth noting that in the seventies, when most Dutch infrastructure was designed, the main reason was not the safety of cyclists but the comfort of cars and lorry’s that had to slow down for cyclists. It was a differerent approach that seemed to have worked in politics. The problem nowadays is that these paths are used by too many different vehicles that they don’t want on the road for the old reason of not want to bother the cars and vans.