There isn’t much appetite at Glasgow City Council for listening to public opinion. You’d think that a collection of people so bereft of vision and basic competence as this one would be desperate and deeply grateful for someone – anyone – to help them do their jobs, but so complacent are they that the possibility of ordinary people having something valuable to contribute is never seriously entertained. Thanks to Andy Preece on Twitter, however, I’ve got a hold of some plans for a cycle route between Silverburn Shopping Centre and Newlands. And they shall be subjected to my critique.
Let’s take a look at this thing. This is the western half of it:
It runs along Barrhead Road then loops around past Silverburn, along Boydstone Road, and back to Barrhead Road. Just the kind of roads that need off-road provision for cycling. It’s all shared-use paths, but there aren’t many pedestrians here so that’s fine. The problem, as ever, lies in the details of the design. Take a look at what Brian Devlin of Land and Environmental Services regards as an appropriate solution for one of the monster road junctions outside the shopping centre:
That’s right – it’s our old friend, the four-stage toucan crossing. Using this “facility” will undoubtedly be a thoroughly degrading, humiliating, frustrating, and inconvenient experience. Expect long delays, difficult manoeuvres, cattle-pens, and conflict between pedestrians and cyclists. Expect the same at the two-stage toucan crossing a little to the south. As ever in Glasgow, pedestrians and cyclists must pay the price here for the Motorist’s expectation of direct routes, slip lanes, high speeds, and Smooth Traffic Flow.
The treatment of the minor junctions is also abysmal. Entirely different designs, all stunningly crap in their own way, have been employed for identical situations, which makes it clear that the clowns at LES have no idea what they’re doing and have simply decided to try a bit of everything. Everything except something that might actually work, that is.
Here’s the treatment that’s most familiar to British cyclists: the Give Way To The Private Access:
If they were all done like this, I could at least understand that the designers were on car-centric autopilot and stuck to what they know. But no – they’ve attempted to “innovate”, and I predict disastrous consequences.
One junction has no indication at all of who has priority:
Another gives cyclists priority:
These half-arsed efforts are incredibly dangerous. The second one is very similar to a junction on Elderslie Street that I’ve already written about, where driver compliance with the give way markings is virtually zero. Now, I’m perfectly capable of ranting and raving about reckless drivers, but I think it’s important to get beyond this impulse and recognise that, like pretty much everything else wrong with cycling in Glasgow, this is really all the council’s fault. There’s a lot to be said for road design taking into account the habits, expectations, and mistakes of the users – for Sustainable Safety, in other words – and the reality is that drivers are used to zooming right up to the mouth of the junction and don’t expect cyclists to ride off the pavement into their path. There are not even speed tables here. It’s lethal crap. I’ll give an example of how it ought to be done a little later.
This is the eastern half of the route:
Rather than spend any real money or risk upsetting the Motorist by building a proper cycle track along the obvious and direct Nether Auldhouse Road, the council has chosen to cobble together a route through an assortment of back streets, lanes, and shared-use paths (marked in red). Fail.
Here’s how the council expects you to cycle between Holeburn Road and Greenbank Park:
Either you can take your chances on the direct route (green) across a busy road, or you can make a massive detour on the council-approved route to the toucan crossing. Neither option is even remotely acceptable.
The junction of Barrhead Road and Kennishead Road is also complete mess:
This junction currently has big sweeping corners and no crossing facility for pedestrians, so I’m glad that the paths are to be built out and a zebra crossing introduced. That said, it’s still crap. My understanding is that, while it’s legal to cycle across a zebra, cyclists do not have priority on zebras as pedestrians do. The crossing is also set too far back from the junction, so it doesn’t meet the desire line, and the paths on either side look quite narrow, which will lead to conflict if there are a lot of users.
I’m not personally familiar with this junction, so I can’t say for sure what the best design is. It could be that traffic lights with a separate phase for cyclists would be a good idea. That said, I’ve had a go at drawing the kind of thing the Dutch might come up with for a cycle-priority junction here:
Crystal clear. Self-explaining. Obviously better. There’s probably no point in having the zebra crossing here – pedestrians could just use the cycle crossing because, as mentioned earlier, this is a shared path – but I thought I’d include it anyway because I quite enjoy doing these drawings and it shows what could be done in locations where pedestrians and cyclists are segregated.
I think it’s scandalous that, in 2014, designs as bad as Glasgow City Council’s could have been produced. Nobody who did the design work or gave the finished drawings the stamp of approval is fit to hold their position and it’s time they were shown the door. However, we must also consider the conditions under which these people work. The design parameters of walking and cycling schemes are determined by what’s politically acceptable to the fanatically car-supremacist Labour Party, which is determined to enforce car dependency and stamp out walking and cycling once and for all. These people are not our friends and they won’t improve our lot in life out of the goodness of their hearts. A new regime at the City Chambers might shake things up.
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