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