Anger against Bears Way cycleway is a good thing

There’s a new segregated cyclepath linking Milngavie and Bearsden, north of Glasgow – the Bears Way. It runs along a main commuter route, and has been built by reallocating space away from private cars and returning it to people on foot and on bikes.

Predictably, therefore, a minority of people have been vocal in their displeasure, culminating in an anonymous threat to execute the members of East Dunbartonshire Council who’d been involved in the scheme’s creation. Elsewhere, some thug was warning people that if they saw them on a bike they’d deliberately drive into them, and later someone did actually drive into some of the street furniture protecting the route (although that was apparently because they were paying so little attention to where they were going that they drove off the side of the roadway).

Similarly, council staff spreading the word about the Victoria Road consultation this evening (about which, more later) ran into hostility from a small number of local traders, with one individual slowly tearing up a flyer in front of them (one hopes they were subsequently fined for littering).

All this anger is massively unpleasant (not to mention criminal, if we’re talking about the death threats). People who ride bikes regularly are no stranger to hostility from a minority of drivers, but for non-cyclists working to put in place these schemes, the venom must be surprising and dispiriting. There’s already a suggestion that the planned extension to the Bears Way may be postponed, and some of the folk working on the Victoria Road plans I spoke to tonight were also disappointed

A personal plea then.

Don’t give up.

Don’t stop. Don’t walk away from what’s been started. These latest schemes are finally getting a reaction because they’re going against the grain of sixty years of blinkered investment in road capacity around Glasgow. The Strathclyde councils have thrown millions at the private car, and all we have to show for it are massive urban highways clogged with cars going nowhere and some of the worst air pollution in Europe.

The only way to break this ruinous cycle of bloating supply and demand is to make other, more space-efficient transport methods viable. If what you’ve been given to work with is a residential dual carriageway, then that means taking away lanes from cars and giving it back to people on foot, on bikes, and using public transport. Some of those who’ve become accustomed to using their car as a crutch to their existence will sulk.

Tough.

No-one likes contributing to council funds either, but that doesn’t mean that we should abolish council tax. Endless studies have shown that investment in modern street design quickly returns massive benefits to those who live and work in those areas, and the short-term grumpiness from a few isolated individuals stuck in the 1970s needs to be borne with good will and a slightly rubber ear.

As Easy As Riding A Bike eloquently argued in Cycling needs a backlash that the reason people are starting to complain more is that some new developments are finally being bold enough to make a difference. The South West City Way and Bears Way are genuinely good pieces of infrastructure that, as the network expands, will provide many people with a better choice than driving. To make the change happen, councils must keep pushing forwards, adding joined up routes of safe cycleways and making the private car less and less attractive.

After all, the medicine may have an unpleasant taste for a short time, but the doctor knows it will eventually cure the disease.

PS: Post-it photo at the top from @SturmeyArcher3

6 thoughts on “Anger against Bears Way cycleway is a good thing

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  • 2016-04-06 at 13:52
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    Very well put. I ride the Bears Way and think it’s great. Once/If completed it will be amazing.

  • 2016-07-24 at 13:14
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    This scheme is a mess and has been built with no local public consultation backed up by a myriad of lies from both Councillor Alan Moir and Thomas Glen from East Dunbartonshire Council. Anyone who knows anything about Bearsden and Milngavie knows that the opposition to this mess isn`t anti bike, it is where the pointless project has been constructed. As was pointed out to East Dunbartonshire Council, by local community councils, before this waste started there were much better routes that would have created a cycle track, but wouldn`t have impacted on the A 81. But east Dunbartonshire, aided and abetted by the out of control quango that is Sustrans, charged ahead wasted a vast sum of public money on a project that is almost deserted on a daily basis. Meanwhile road congestion on the section of the A 81 that has been vandalised by this project has got worse with a resulting increase in air pollution and vehicle accidents and near misses. Ironically, whilst East Dunbartonshire and Sustrans have wasted well over a million pounds on this vanity project, the distraicts four railway stations are over flowing with traffic and East Dunbartonshire Council is doing nothing to increase parking capacity or provide a new station at the Allander that could have had car parking for 400 cars and would ironically have been linked to the cycle track that EDC ruled out int he first place as their agend was to destroy the A 81.

  • 2016-07-27 at 22:01
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    Hi Andrew

    I don’t agree with a great deal of what you’ve written I’m afraid. You mention that there are places a cycleway could have been built that would not have impacted the A81 – I agree with you, but that almost defeats the point. Active transport needs to become the more attractive alternative to just jumping in the car, and that can only be achieved through a carrot-and-stick approach. As I wrote in the article, if people in private cars don’t feel that they’re at the bottom of the priority order, then the street design isn’t correct. I’d also point out that absolutely no politician would choose an active transport project as part of a diabolic scheme to increase their popularity!

  • 2016-10-05 at 10:47
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    Andrew McCormick – No need to worry yourself now Andy, Phase II of the Bears Way – the bit that makes sense of it all and connects to national routes has just been abandoned because SNP, Lib Dems and Independent Councillors voted it down. Obviously an alliance of “White Van Man”, myopic shop owners interested purely in ensuring cars can park immediately outside their establishments and the forever angry Audi and BMW commuters have sufficiently put the wind up local Councillors to abandon the project entirely. EDC now has a £1m + cycle route to nowhere. Well done mate. You did it – you helped kill a project that will now rot as a testament to your partisan stupidity. I hope you are well and truly proud of what those SNP morons have achieved. Without their support the “Cars at any price” alliance would have failed miserably.

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