To my immense surprise, the new South West City Way is really good. Genuinely thoughtful, intelligently designed, safe cycle infrastructure that does far more than the absolute minimum.
It’s so good that pointing out its flaws (and there are some) seems somewhat unfair. It’s miles ahead of anything else we have in Glasgow and the team who put it together should be rightly proud of what they’ve achieved. If the rest of the City Ways meet this standard, Glasgow may finally start to solve its air quality, congestion and public health issues.
If you can spare nine minutes I’ve done an annotated video of the full 2km route heading north to south. It’s not wildly interesting (!), but then neither is the rest of this article. Choose your poison!
Still with me? OK.
Where is the route?
In the south west of Glasgow (oddly enough), running along Shields Rd, Scotland St and West St and finally connecting up with the Tradeston bridge:
Note the route is dual direction on the east and southern sides of all roads except at the very top (where it’s on the west side of West St). If you’re joining from St Andrew’s Rd (at the southern end) you need to pay slightly more attention—it’s not obvious how you get on the route…
The vast majority of it.
It’s all segregated from traffic (apart from crossing side roads, where you have priority). In the main it’s segregated cycletrack, with only a few stretches of shared use pavement (most of which is wide enough for that to be safe).
The tarmac is smooth and fairly wide, and I only noticed one kerb being a little abrupt.
Junctions are handled well, with good detectors for cycles (so you don’t spend ages sat at a red light), dedicated green phases, and neat extra touches like foot-and-hand-rests. If you’re travelling between 15-20kph you’ll get a nice green wave through a few sets of junctions as well (ie the lights are timed well enough so once you get the first green, you’ll get them all).
At the north end, the route connects with the Tradeston bridge and the cyclepath on the north bank of the Clyde. The south end doesn’t really connect with anything, but only because there is no other cycle infrastructure anywhere nearby to connect up with.
What could be improved?
I’d normally say that a lane on each side of the road is better than a dual-lane on one side, but in this case it means the route can elegantly skip some miserable motorway interchanges, so I don’t think that would be a fair criticism.
The worst bit on the route is this junction with Wallace St, particularly heading northbound.
The shared use is too narrow, and the corner is completely blind (putting both pedestrians and cyclists at risk). This needs to be fixed by straightening out the junction. This is also a push-button (rather than a sensor) junction, so there’s a long wait to cross. It almost feels like the designer took a day off and the office dog put this bit together.
There are a couple of drainage issues, including the particularly unfortunate example below that affects pedestrians using the crossing as well.
Whilst we’re looking at that photo, some mini traffic light repeaters lower down the pole would be handy as well.
The other problem this route has is that it is already being abused by Bubbles Car Wash on Scotland Street. That particular business seems to view the pavement and cycle lane adjacent to their property as their own free parking;
— notplanning (@notplanning) October 22, 2015
Some extra bollards would appear to be in order.
So, overall, a success?
This is £1.25m well spent on high quality infrastructure that makes life much safer and more pleasant for those on foot and on bikes. It’s not perfect, but it’s so far ahead of anything that Glasgow City Council have built before that even this cynical campaigner dares to hope that we might have turned a corner.
With the draft plans for Victoria Road also looking promising, maybe the message is starting to sink in…?