Glasgow, catering to the world’s best cyclists and the city’s own bike users
As Glasgow gears up to host some of the world’s best cyclists at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships this summer, the Scottish city is also working to get more of its residents onto bikes.
And even when the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships are over, the UCI Bike City Glasgow – which will host several of the UCI World Championships taking place across Scotland from 3 to 13 August – will continue its cycling journey with the city’s population.
We look at some of Glasgow’s initiatives to facilitate the use of bicycles in all areas of the city.
ACTIVE TRAVEL STRATEGY
The Scottish city’s Active Travel Strategy (ATS) 2022-2031 is still young, but is already delivering, with priority currently being given to areas and routes that will be in high demand during the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships. A fully segregated route from the city centre to the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, which will host the track and para-cycling track event, will be completed in July. Meanwhile, work is also underway around the Emirates Arena – the venue of indoor cycling’s artistic cycling and cycle-ball competitions -, including the establishment of a new bike station which will be ready for the UCI Cycling Worlds.
CITY NETWORK FOR EASY ACCESS
The new routes are part of the City Network, a key component of the ATS, which is adding 270km to existing routes in the city. The aim is for the City Network to be within 400m of every school, and no more than 800m from every home. Anyone who cycles will be able to reach most of the city within 30 minutes.
Councillor Angus Millar, City Convener for Transport, said: “Our plans for a City Network aim to create connections with existing infrastructure that ensures that more and more parts of the city are accessible by safe, segregated infrastructure that prioritises active travel.”
The plan for the city was implemented after a “public conversation” carried out over six weeks at the end of 2020 in which inhabitants could take part in webinars and were surveyed by telephone. Their input and feedback continues to be sought at every stage of development.
BIKE HANGARS BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS
With 60% of Glasgow’s population living in tenements or flats, problems of bike storage have dissuaded more than a few from acquiring a bike. The city now has an alternative solution to leaving bikes in an apartment block stairwell. A secure cycle storage scheme introduced two years ago is constantly expanding and now counts 201 units, each providing six secure cycle parking places for a total of more than 1200 across the city.
Even after the installation of 70 new shelters last November (for a total of 420 bikes), there is still a waiting list, and more hangars will be provided in a bid to meet demand.
GLASGOW CYCLE HIRE SCHEME
Meanwhile, the city’s bike hire scheme has exceeded all expectations. Launched in 2014, the Nextbike/OVO Bikes scheme has become a key feature in the Glasgow’s transport system, a clear sign of the growing support for sustainable transport in Glasgow.
In December 2022, the bike hire scheme reached the landmark of two million hires. The fleet currently comprises 1159 bikes, including 159 e-bikes. They are available for hire 24 hours a day at 107 cycle hire stations across the city.
Active mobility plays a major role in improving the quality of life, and Glasgow’s Liveable Neighbourhoods Plan (LNP) has been developed to respond directly to Glasgow’s particular conditions. It aims to get a maximum number of people moving on foot, by cycle and public transport to meet most of their daily needs.
Fifty-six town centres have been grouped into 28 liveable neighbourhoods (one of which is the city centre) to create a network of safe, inclusive and attractive neighbourhoods that have been designed with the local communities.
VISION ZERO WHEN IT COMES TO SAFETY
Central to the Active Travel Plan and the Liveable Neighbourhood Plan is Vision Zero, which aims for no deaths or serious injury occurring on the roads, cycleways and footpaths by 2030. It is a challenging vision that has prompted the lowering of more city speed limits, segregation between roads and cycleways, and measures to meet the needs of vulnerable road users.
In areas where cyclists are not segregated from motorized vehicles, the Glasgow City Council has trialed smart sensor technology that accurately detects cycle movement thanks to electronic LED warning signs which are triggered by cyclist movement. A trial at one junction showed that conflict between cyclists and vehicles dropped from 17% to 8%. The trial scheme has been extended to 22 locations across Glasgow.
Education is an important factor in promoting the city’s active travel and promoting safety.
Schoolchildren are encouraged to cycle to school, with “school bike buses” established in several Liveable Neighbourhoods. An example is the Shawlands Bike Bus, in the south side of Glasgow, which comprises more than 50 children and adults cycling to and from school each Friday.
BIKE FOR GOOD
Training is also accessible through the nation-wide charity Bike for Good, which has three community hubs in Glasgow. Weekly cycle training, a bike buddies programme and led rides to build confidence are available through this charity that also offers training in bike maintenance.
In addition, bikes donated by the public are refurbished and sold at these hubs. With more than 1000 bikes refurbished each year, tonnes of waste are diverted from landfill and the public has access to affordable bikes.
Councillor Angus Millar, City Convener for Transport, said: “Getting about Glasgow on bike is growing in popularity year on year. Our plan for a City Network of safer, segregated infrastructure for active travel is taking shape and we are confident this will encourage many more people to see cycling as their first choice for everyday journeys. We are looking forward to the forthcoming UCI Cycling World Championships as it will inspire more people to take to their bikes and build on Glasgow’s status as a bike city.”