The pavement parking “ban” that isn’t

Motorists set to be banned from parking on pavements

MOTORISTS in Scotland are to be banned from parking on pavements after a long running campaign by disability groups.

It was hailed as “fantastic” by Sandra White, the backbench SNP MSP who has been campaigning at Holyrood on behalf of a range of groups including Guide Dogs for the Blind, disability and pensioners’ organisations and Living Streets, the “everyday walking” charity.

That’s the headline. You might think it’s a great step forward. You’d be wrong.

[Transport Minister Derek] Mackay said discussions with local councils and members of the public were required to identify zones that might be exempt from the ban.

He told Holyrood’s local government committee: “People don’t need to be alarmed that suddenly they cannot park near their homes.

“This will not be like setting a national speed limit that applies universally.”

That’s right – the Motorists are the top priority in all of this. Derek knows that his voters wish to minimise the amount of time they spend walking from their houses to their cars, and it’s apparently imperative that this be accommodated. If that means footways are appropriated for car parking, so be it.

As ever, the agenda is set by the car lobby:

Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, said: “It is downright selfish sometimes to park on the pavement.

“But the problem with a blanket ban is there are some locations where people do that to make the road accessible.

“It can be a sensible measure that residents adopt.

“If a blanket ban were enforced rigorously in all places it would be embarrassing.

“If it were tailored to place where people are being selfish, I don’t think anyone would have any problems with that.

“Someone with a pushchair or a wheelchair has a right to go out and about.”

We’re allowed to exist, as long as we don’t go around asking for too much. So says a man from the AA. Isn’t that nice of him?

The example of London, where pavement parking has been nominally banned since 1985, is instructive. Like the shambolic SNP Bill, the London legislation allows the creation of exempted areas. All that is required is the painting of some markings on the footway to indicate the area that drivers may park on. There is no minimum footway width that must remain exclusively for pedestrians:

May 8 2011 2

(Source: Crap Waltham Forest)

This is the kind of barbaric, anti-pedestrian, anti-wheelchair, anti-pushchair streetscape that Derek Mackay wishes to formalise. He’s part of the cosy clique of hardline car-mongers who dominate the Scottish Government. Their commitment to maintaining the iniquity of a driver-centric transport system is unwavering. Even the more moderate elements of this clique, such as Sandra White, are quite clear that any dissenting views they may have – like a belief that footways should be for walking on – are not fundamental. Though, to be fair, I’m not aware of any of the opposition parties raising the issue of the exemption clause.

I oppose this rotten piece of legislation. It’s clear that it will be used to legitimise the oppression of pedestrians. Exemptions will be created wherever drivers demand them. They’ll whine and screech about their “needs”, and councils will roll over every time.

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Leading Scotland down the garden path: savage SNP austerity will cause social and environmental disaster

I was entirely unsurprised to learn the priorities of Tartan Tory finance minister John Swinney outlined in his latest budget, which will impose savage austerity on local councils while pissing away even more cash entrenching car dependency.

The leader of Edinburgh council was not happy:

Council Leader, Andrew Burns, said: “A reduction in revenue funding of the scale now being proposed, will undoubtedly have a negative impact on a whole range of vital services that local government is responsible for delivering: the children in our care, the elderly struggling with dementia whom we look after, and vulnerable adults whom we assist daily; all these individuals rely on the support that only a council can provide.

Ah yes, The Vulnerable. Very useful for point-scoring when excoriating the wicked Tories, but of little real interest compared to the glamour of the Great Car Economy:

The draft Scottish Budget 2016-17, coming right after the Paris Climate Summit, continues and worsens the Scottish Government’s unsustainable transport policies.  Trunk road spending rises hugely, rail is cut, whilst cycling/walking investment looks if anything slightly down on 15-16, and again falls below 2% of total transport spending.

The budget document shows trunk road spending up a massive 18% to £820m, with rail down by 7%.

The promises of flip-flopping transport minister Derek Mackay were also exposed as empty:

Whilst overall cycling cash in the 16/17 budget is only declining slightly, the CWSS element is being slashed by 25% – from £8m in 15/16 to just £5.9m in 16/17.  Years ago, under the previous Lab/Lib administration it rose to over £9m, but under subsequent SNP governments it has fluctuated between roughly £5.5m-£8m.  Indeed the first (minority) SNP government attempted to scrap CWSS altogether, but was persuaded of its necessity by a massive campaign followed by an ultimatum from Patrick Harvie MSP, whose vote was needed to pass the overall budget.

Most importantly, nearly all councils use CWSS cash to raise additional outside money through ‘matched funding’ projects, with bodies such as Sustrans, Scottish Canals, or EU schemes.   Thus a 25% cut in CWSS means councils are likely to lose the same amount again in lost match funds.

This is a hard-Right government, packed to the rafters with climate change deniers, wearing a temporary and entirely cosmetic “anti-austerity” disguise.

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Victoria Road plans

There are now two options for a redesign of Victoria Road in the south side available to view on the Glasgow City Council web site.

Option 1

The first design has unidirectional cycleways on each side of the road:

Victoria Road Option 1

This looks like a reasonable effort. I’m very happy to see zebra crossings (replacing two-stage staggered pelican crossings), floating bus stops, and priority for the cycleway across side roads. However, there are a number of things that are wrong. The most serious is the very poor design of the junction with Queen’s Drive (top left) – people who want to cycle straight ahead or turn right will find this very difficult and dangerous with motorists turning left across their path. Much the same can be said for the junction with Allison Street, but the banned left turn here mitigates the problem to a significant extent. The council really needs to forget about useless ASLs and provide dedicated traffic light phases for cycling so that these maneuvers can be made without conflict with drivers.

Another problem is the width of the cycleways – claimed to be a “typical” 2 metres but in reality reduced to as little as 1.5m for very significant lengths. There is no real door-zone buffer next to the car parking spaces, just a little strip of hatching that isn’t wide enough. In these locations, the safe usable width of the cycleways is actually much less than 1 metre.

At the bus stops, the bus shelter should be moved from the footway to the bus stop island. I’m not a fan of the bus laybys – the idea here is that bus drivers will pull into the layby to avoid “holding up traffic” behind them. After it’s finished picking up passengers, the bus will then be delayed as the driver waits for a gap in the cars before pulling back out into the main carriageway. This fails to achieve the promised prioritisation of public transport.

I also worry about the “cycle zebras” next to the pedestrian zebra crossings. I think drivers will be surprised by cyclists here, and I expect many near-misses. The zebras should possibly be put on speed tables to slow down motor traffic.


Option 2

The second design has a bidirectional cycleway on one side of the road:

Victoria Road Option 2

This is not my preferred option because it makes it more difficult to enter the cycleway from the road, or get back onto the road when the cycleway ends. Two-way cycleways also present additional dangers at uncontrolled junctions due to drivers not anticipating bidirectional cycle traffic; stop lines have been added to the cycleway at its junctions with very lightly trafficked side roads in apparent recognition of this danger, which is obviously not acceptable.

On a positive note this design has a substantial segregation strip, 1 metre wide, which would be very effective in preventing people cycling from being hit by opening car doors. I would really like to see this feature in the first design.


How it should be done

As you might expect, I’ve altered the drawings to show my ideal design:

Victoria Road After

If Glasgow City Council takes these suggestions on board, they could turn an okay scheme into an excellent scheme!

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South West City Way review

Rejoice, comrades, for Glasgow City Council has opened a new cycle route! The South West City Way (oooh!), previously known as the Tradeston cycle route, has recently been completed. It runs from Pollokshields to the city centre along Shields Road, Scotland Street, and West Street. That’s about a mile. Nah, it ain’t much, but that’s as good as it gets round here.

The route starts with a toucan crossing over St Andrew’s Road, which leads into a segregated cycleway along Shields Road:


Shields Road has two floating bus stops, where the cycleway passes between the footway and a bus passenger waiting island. This one has no bus shelter, which is an unfortunate omission, but it works well for cycling:


This one does have a bus shelter, but the advertising panel reduces intervisibility of bus passengers and cyclists. The cycleway is uncomfortably narrow; this could be improved by narrowing the excessively wide bus stop island:


I’m also reliably informed that the wrong type of tactile paving has been installed at the raised crossings:


The Shields Road railway bridge has, unfortunately, not seen any physical alterations. Instead, the “temporary” barriers that restrict the width have been shifted around and a cycle lane has been simply painted onto the tarmac. The broken tarmac on the footway has been left unrepaired. This is not an attractive public realm, it’s like something you’d see in a third-world country:


At the junction of Shields Road and Scotland Street, the segregated cycleway ends and becomes a shared-use path for walking and cycling. This provides access to toucan crossings that link to a path under the M8 motorway. It’s not an ideal design, but as the path is wide it does not seem to be particularly problematic:


The section outside Scotland Street school museum is also shared-use. The beige area indicates where passengers will alight from the visitor coaches that are permitted to stop on the road:


There’s some nice full segregation further along Scotland Street:


Sadly, this doesn’t last; it’s back up onto the pavement at the junction of Scotland Street and Carnoustie Place:


The apparent reasoning behind this is to provide a large space for turning motor vehicles (there’s a motorway junction out of shot to the right) so that drivers don’t have to slow down too much. Not good:


The segregated cycleway resumes after the junction, at which point it passes the Bubbles Car Wash. As you can see, the segregation is totally ineffective at preventing intrusion by drivers who are determined to block the footway. If I had my way, this grubby little establishment would be shut down, and the cars crushed…


More segregation on West Street, and an example of the priority across side roads the cycleway has been given:


The junction of West Street and Wallace Street really is shit. It’s astonishingly, inexcusably bad. Once again cyclists are dumped on the pavement, but this time it’s far too narrow and has a blind corner. I can see this being very intimidating for pedestrians. The drainage channel is a slip hazard, and the lights take forever to change due to the priority that continues to be given to the drivers:


But wait – it gets worse! The technical drawings for the route showed that there would be 2 lanes of motor traffic through this junction. As can be seen in my photo, it has been built with only one lane. It the road can be reduced to one lane, then it follows that the space for walking and cycling can be increased – but this has not been done. Why? It’s a shambles.


At Kingston Street we have our first sighting of what looks like it might actually be a properly-designed junction – a diagonal cycle crossing! This is quite fun to use when it actually works. However, the cyclist phase is not part of the normal light cycle – it’s only actuated when sensors detect the presence of a cyclist. This means that the delay for cyclists is always greater than the delay for drivers. I cycled through the junction six times and the sensors seem to be just as unreliable as those on Connect2; they twice failed to detect me, leaving me stuck at a red light while cars whooshed on by:


And that’s us at the end of our little odyssey along the South West City Way – the very finest cycling infrastructure Glasgow City Council has to offer. No doubt it’s in line for about a dozen awards for its magnificence. It may be better than anything else in Glasgow, but it’s mediocre at best. Must try harder.

Below: the current end point of the South West City Way, at the Tradeston footbridge. The council plans to extend the cycleway along that grass verge in future. I can hardly wait.


If you like the South West City Way, or would like to see more cycleways generally, an event is being held at Scotland Street school museum at 1pm on Saturday 24th October to celebrate the opening of the route.

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East Dunbartonshire Council releases new draft active travel strategy

East Dunbartonshire Council has recently started a consultation on a new active travel strategy for the period up to 2020. Having read the draft document, I am reasonably optimistic. Current levels of walking and cycling are well below the national average (p2), reflecting the horrendous conditions on the local streets, and there is much room for improvement. This reality is acknowledged by the council:

“a lack of designated cycle infrastructure means most cycling takes place on main carriageways which can be unattractive for less confident cyclists and poses safety concerns.” (p24)

The best part of the strategy is its long list of specific improvements; this is a marked contrast to the empty promises of vaguely-defined “improved infrastructure” that usually characterise documents like this. A number of worthwhile schemes are proposed, including:



The main east-west road across East Dunbartonshire. Almost entirely rural, this busy, narrow, high-speed racetrack is one of the worst imaginable places to walk or cycle. Here, the council wants to build:

“shared use path along north side of A807 footway” (p35)

This could be positive but it will need to be a completely new construction – 3 or 4 metres wide, with a substantial verge separating the path from the carriageway, and not just a rebadging of the dire so-called footway that’s there at the moment (Google Maps):



A81 “Bears Way”

This is main road through Milngavie, Bearsden, and into Glasgow. A section of segregated cycleway between the Burnbrae Roundabout and Hillfoot has recently been constructed, but its short length makes it pretty pointless at the moment.

Happily, the council is intent on extending the route northwards:

“Extend A81 cycleway to Milngavie Train Station and Milngavie Town  Centre by either segregated cycle way or advisory cycle lanes –  pending outcome of feasibility study” (p29)

There are already advisory cycle lanes on this section, and they’re crap. Segregation is the only way forward and is, as I explained, perfectly feasible. Let common sense prevail, please.

Plans are also underway to extend the route southwards:

“Some committed projects such as Phase 2 and 3 of the A81 Bearsway cycle way, linking Hillfoot to Kessington and Kessington to the Glasgow City Council boundary, are still subject to further project specific consultation” (p49)

I have previously expressed doubts about the likelihood of this happening – the council has just installed car parking bays on the very section of road this cycleway needs to be built on – but, if it does, the A81 will have a very worthwhile piece of infrastructure.



This is the main road through Bishopbriggs and into Glasgow, where the proposal is for some combination of:

• Segregated cycle lanes

• Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs)

• Advisory Cycle Lanes (ACLs)

• Reduction of 40mph speed limit to 30 mph (p31)

This is a little concerning. The last thing we need is more advisory cycle lanes and ASLs. There is one section of this road where things are a bit tight, but in general it is more than wide enough for segregation.


Plenty of space for segregated cycleways at Bishopbriggs Cross

Kirkintilloch Road Before

So, so, so much space. (Google Maps)

Kirkintilloch Road After

How it should look (design by me): on the left-hand side, carriageway narrowing and a minor reduction of the grassy area creates space for a northbound segregated cycleway. On the right-hand side, a short section of cycleway connects two quiet parallel service streets to create a southbound cycle route. In the middle: a nasty car-centric junction redesigned with cycle crossing facilities, a zebra crossing, and pedestrian refuge islands. Possible need to fell a small number of trees due to the extra space this design requires.


Bishopbriggs to Lenzie rail-side route

This one’s quite exciting:

“Provision of an off road route adjacent to railway line connecting east Bishopbriggs with Kirkintilloch/Lenzie” (p34)

The roads between Bishopbriggs and Lenzie are much less direct than the railway line, so a path beside the railway could offer a significant advantage to cycling. I’d like to see a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the railway line in east Bishopbriggs, so people on both sides of the line can access the new path easily.


Other stuff

There’s all the usual stuff about 20mph, behaviour change, and leisure routes, which is fine: they are clearly not regarded as a substitute for improved infrastructure. There is not a word about irrelevant victim-blaming crap like high-visibility clothing, which I strongly welcome. However, there are a number of very weak infrastructure plans:

• A810 Duntocher Road corridor – Provision of advisory cycle lanes and supportive infrastructure

• B8050 Baljaffray Road/Grampian Way corridor – Provision of advisory cycle lanes and infrastructure (p28)

• Craigdhu Road – Provision of shared use path on northern footway

• Hunter Road – Provision of advisory cycle lanes and infrastructure

• Craigton Rd/Gardens – Provision of  advisory cycle lanes and infrastructure (p29)

• ACLs on connecting routes of Balmuildy/Hilton Rd (p31)


There is absolutely no point in splashing paint around like this. Advisory cycle lanes offer no benefits for cycling. It’s time they were ditched for good.

There are no specific targets for the modal share of walking and cycling – only an aim to see a year-on-year increase (p51).

Finally, there is little focus on pedestrians. The problem of pavement parking is identified (p19) but no actions are proposed to put an end to this menace.



There are some good ideas in this strategy – however, the door has been left open for loads of crappy advisory cycle lanes, which could ruin everything. If East Dunbartonshire commits to a proper network of segregated and off-road cycling infrastructure, we might have something here.

The council has a survey abut the strategy on its website. Please do fill it in.

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Council continues oppression of wheelchair users

I took this picture on Aikenhead Road, but you can see scenes like this all over the city. The footway has been blocked by contractors and there are no ramps to allow people in wheelchairs to move around this obstacle.


It is yet another reminder, in case there was any doubt, that wheelchair users sit right at the bottom of Glasgow City Council’s priorities.

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A81 “Bears Way” cycle route review

East Dunbartonshire Council recently finished construction of a new cycle route along the A81 through Bearsden, so I’ve been along to take some photos! For more details, please do see:

The Bears Way is a ~2.5-metre-wide bidirectional segregated cycleway that runs for about a mile from Burnbrae Roundabout to Hillfoot. This facility has replaced some bog-standard advisory cycle lanes. The design has advantages (car parking for residents was retained) and disadvantages (as a cyclist, it can be difficult and time-consuming to enter the cycleway if you’re on the “wrong” side of the road). It has fresh tarmac from end to end, so it’s very smooth! Top marks to East Dunbartonshire there. Glasgow’s council, by contrast, prefers to leave the crappy old pothole-ridden road surface in place when they build cycleways.


At one point the cycleway switches from one side of the road to the other. The crossing is a toucan so you need to press a button, which is a bit annoying:


The cycleway has priority over all side roads, but in each case this is less safe than it might be. One has a mediocre imitation of the best Dutch design:



It’s set back from the road and on a raised table, which is great, but visual priority is disrupted by the tactile paving, kerbs, double-yellow lines, and lack of a distinct colour for the cycleway.

This design is more typical:


A bit too ambiguous for me, I’m afraid. There’s clearly a risk of cyclists being left-hooked here. The side roads didn’t seem to have much traffic when I visited, so it might turn out not to be much of an issue, but I don’t know what they’re like at different times of the day.

The bus stops have been commented on elsewhere, and I agree that they are generally of a poor design. Here, people have to step almost directly into the cycleway when they get off the bus – not good.


This one has a floating bus stop (good!), but a chicane reduces the usable width of the cycleway to the point that it is dangerous. It isn’t even effective at slowing cyclists, because it’s easy to dodge it by going onto the wrong side of the path.


Another example. Notice the burned-off lane markings – for some reason, they’ve decided to make the northbound cycle lane even narrower:


Only one was done properly, with a nice gentle taper. This is how all the bus stops should have been:


The cycleway conks out before it reaches Hillfoot shops and railway station (i.e. useful destinations), so it’s back onto the road. This is supposedly going to be extended southwards in future, but I don’t see how – more on that in a bit:


Despite the flaws, I don’t think this is a completely awful cycle route. I would probably use I if I lived in the area. Sadly, it’s clear that this has been a standalone scheme, not part of any wider plan. The council has been hard at work rebuilding the roads at each end of the cycle route to make any extension more difficult and expensive.

The possibility of the cycleway being extended northwards into Milngavie town centre along Main Street is very obvious. The road layout, with low-quality advisory cycle lanes, is the same as the former layout of the A81 – it could be upgraded in the same way:


As you can see, things just need to be shifted around a bit. Easy peasy. Unfortunately, this common-sense idea has been stymied by the construction of a new cattle-pen in the middle of the road:


This absurd, oppressive, hateful structure compels pedestrians to cross a simple two-lane road in two separate stages simply to cut a few seconds off the time drivers have to wait at a red light. It also takes up a lot of space. It will have to be dug up and changed to a straight-across crossing to make way for a cycleway.

At the southern end of the route, outside Hillfoot shops, the part of the road where a future cycleway needs to go has been turned into car parking bays, complete with pavement build-outs. The same has been done on the other side of the road. There’s nowhere else for a cycleway to go:


Politically, I’d say the chances of getting rid of these parking bays, now that they’ve been institutionalised, is remote. I despair, I really do.

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