Return to Glasgow again

A quick update on this post, which was in turn an update on this one. Briefly: when I passed through Glasgow in the spring there were some cycle tracks under construction (and on streets that the Mayor of London, and many cycle campaigners even, would no doubt describe as “too narrow”), and, while they looked pretty good, the markings were not yet down, so there were some ambiguities about how it might work.

I will make a wider point about these tracks and more in a future post, but for now, this post is just some photos showing off what Glasgow has been getting — not just here, but at several similar routes in the city.

The good news: the crossing of side-roads has been done pretty much exactly right: the priority is clear, and if the markings weren’t enough, the contrasting colour should be:

It’s not quite 100% perfect: as the coloured surface shows, there is still a rather generous sweeping curve for vehicles turning left onto the minor road to race across the tracks. But it’s plenty enough to make it one of the best examples of on-street cycle tracks in the UK… not that this is a great boast.

The not so good news is where the tracks switch from one side of the road to the other, at the same time as the road is intersected by another minor road. When I was last here, it wasn’t year clear how crossing to the opposite corner of the crossroads was going to work.

Well it’s a two stage crossing. The minor road is another cycle track priority crossing, with coloured surface to make it obvious, though this time the track first briefly jumps up and down kerbs (and slippery ridged paving that’s potentially dangerously aligned) over a wee patch of shared use footway.

Then comes the crazy bit, a toucan crossing:

I’ve only passed this way a couple of times — at the tail end of the evening and morning rush hours — so perhaps I’m not the best person to judge, but a signal controlled crossing seems like overkill. Signals are expensive to install and power, so you’d expect authorities to be cautious about using them. But I just can’t work out why they’re needed here. The two obvious simpler solutions would be to have a non-signaled crossing with cyclist priority (and a zebra), as has been done with the minor side-roads, or a non-signaled crossing with motor priority. My impression of the motor traffic volume was such that the latter would not hold up cyclists any longer than the signals do. The former would obviously be preferred, and my impression of cycle and foot traffic volume was that cycle priority and a zebra would not hold up motor traffic much — though it would hopefully contribute to slow speeds on a street lined with shops, flats, and a playing field. I don’t know… perhaps at the height of rush hour it’s required.

My suspicion is that there is a toucan here simply because the old fashioned engineering rule book can’t accommodate the more obvious alternative.

That’s the only real issue with this new section of the tracks. The width, though perhaps not generous, is certainly sufficient. It would be nice if we were in a position where all those bollards were not necessary, but we’re not. Further on at the traffic lights, the tracks have their own dedicated phase (sadly without a detector that lets cyclists go first, as the Dutch might have):

But the full route isn’t yet complete up to this standard. To reach the city centre you are still directed on an ad hoc route along old footways-turned-shared-paths (signed as cycle routes but still without drop kerbs or toucan crossings) across the tangle of motorway slip roads and into the foreboding poorly-lit motorway underpass. And that leads me to my point…

…which I’ll post when I get the time.

12 thoughts on “Return to Glasgow again”

  1. I don’t know what the position is in Glasgow, but in Dumfries we have NO zebra crossings at all, except the ones Tesco put into its car parks. The reason is they’re not considered as safe as signal-controlled crossings. It may be this caution extends to the rest of Scotland as well

  2. The plastic bollards are quite fragile. The cycle track installed recently on London road has already lost a few (some perhaps due to vandalism, others at a corner I suspect due to turning vehicles).

    Another major criticism to make of these cycle tracks is that they are built using existing road surfaces, and there is apparently no budget to fix problems in that surface (I have talked to GCC LES about this). So, while the section you’ve visited in the West End looks good, elsewhere you end up with this:

    And note that that’s *after* I complained and they patched up the worst of it (visible at the bottom of the pic).

  3. There are a number of problems with this route that users have found, namely the cycle track priority at the Berkeley St/Claremont St Give Way junction is ignored by motorists and some collisions have resulted, and the phasing of some of the traffic lights on the route.

    The phasing of lights at the Sauchiehall St junction mean that cyclists are always quicker using the road (northbound) and pedestrian phase (southbound), and since the cycle phase is only triggered by a detector it will not happen unless a cyclist is already waiting. The St Vincent St junction is better and the cycle phase is before the motorist phase.

    The Berkeley St/Elderslie St junction also ignores the possibility that cyclists might turn left from the cycle track on Berkeley St (eastbound) into Elderslie St (northbound), so cyclists have to make this as an unsignalled manoeuvre.

    Thanks for pointing out that the rubber tactile matting is slippery when wet, I’ve found that too.

    The crossing midway up Elderslie St was originally meant to be a Zebra crossing, but was changed to a Toucan at a late stage in the plans since cyclists can’t cycle across a Zebra crossing. [There are a small number of Zebra crossings elsewhere in Glasgow (not on cycle routes), to answer “Disgruntled”.]

    The plan for the route is first to connect it down to NCN 75 on the riverside at Broomielaw via the paths below the M8 motorway mentioned above, then a segregated route along Waterloo St to Central Station will be constructed in time for the completion of the Sustrans Connect2 bridge project at Anderston Cross (a previously never-completed 1960s footbridge over the M8 motorway is being completed).

    1. Zebra crossings are of course endangered, because motorists can’t be trusted to stop at them any more, so they get changed to signals (as though motorists can be trusted to stop at those).

      Current rules state that you can’t ride over a zebra (at least, not with same priority over motors that pedestrians get), and a street geek has confirmed that you can’t put a cycle track crossing next to a zebra because of the zig-zag lines rule (same reason zebras are always set so far away from junctions). (This is why The Brunel Mile involved the removal of a zebra in favour of “give way to cyclists & pedestrians”.) I think that’s probably something that the coalition’s red tape cutting needs to address.

  4. There is a huge problem with the cycle facilities across the side roads as you have shown. Vehicles exiting the side road may well be able to “Give Way” to cyclists on the new track, if they have enough visibility. However they may well end up blocking the cycle track as they stop at the next give way line to join the main road.
    The biggest issue is that drivers entering the side road do not have to give way to anything. They shouldn’t drive into pedestrians or cyclists if they are there but do not have to stop or give way. This design could create new collision problems and the local authority will be liable. It would be interesting to know if they have had the scheme Road Safety Audited.

    1. Vehicles turning into the side roads are meant to give way too — whether that’s obvious enough, whether they actually will, and if not, whether there will be any enforcement, are, of course, all independent of what the actual rules are. The design is similar to Camden’s, where issues with priority have, I’m told, become fewer over time. Of course, motorists learning the rules by a process of trial and error is not optimal…

  5. It’ll be interesting to see how these work without the usual levels of fines (many times higher than ours) and levels of enforcement.

    Two-way sidepaths are always a problem. Helsinki has lots and a study there found 90% of injured cyclists were rightfully crossing a junction in the opposite direction to immediately adjacent road traffic. But I will hope against hope that this experiment does NOT produce the “evidence” that giving cyclepaths right of way across junctions can’t be done in Britain.

    1. Chris, are you aware of the Seven Stations Link in Bloomsbury and the other LB Camden routes, which David Arditti wrote about last year? They are designed similarly (albeit with a few unfortunate and sometimes surreal compromises), and with several examples of priority over side roads (as well as a few examples of banned turns and blocked-off side roads, which are great solutions with wider traffic reduction benefits). They’ve been operational for several years, so you can probably learn something about how well priority works from those. (It being central London, though, they represent only a road on which (a) cyclists are common enough to never be a surprise and (b) most motorists are cabbies or other professional drivers who already know the road well (but at the same time are famously impatient road hogs).)

      I believe it was David who was also collecting info about other examples of priority crossings around the UK, including roads more representative than those in Zone 1.

  6. Zebra crossings are rare in Scotland as a whole, there has been a long term fashion for taking them out and (occasionally) replacing them with Pelican crossings. This was done on the grounds that Zebra crossings were dangerous because drivers failed to stop at them, even though the same drivers are just as likely run red lights. In resent years there has been a slight renascence of Zebra crossings in Edinburgh, mainly for “Streetscape”.

    There was a resent attempt to put in a Zebra crossing out side a school in Stirling, but this was fiercely resisted by parents who wanted to have a Pelican crossing, because “Zebra crossings are dangerous”, and of course drivers are never the problem…

  7. I did raise the issue of the plastic ribbed surface being sub standard and obviously at variance with the designs tested by DETR and TRL around 20 years ago (but TRL cannot find the reports and results (G Harland was in charge of this part of TRL at the time)) The manufacturer is convinced that they are equivalent to the concrete units originally tested. Please report any skidding etc to land services at ( – should be Colin Little).

    The segregated rout past the Gaelic School has had issues with pupils being collected by buses, blocking the path and cars actually plugging the end – no one enforces restrictions on waiting and obstruction.

    The cross-over was a battle over what to do and I find the London Road facility a pain because I need to cross back to get to side roads I want to turn in to (eg to get to Commonwheel workshop) – I rarely use either of them, the road is simply faster and easier to use. Northbound on Elderslie Street it is simply safer and cleaner to stay in the traffic lane (and the lights at Sauchiehall Street never change – but for the main flow they should be synchronous with the Southbound vehicle lights. Southbound (with the main carriageway to Berkeley Street it is again simpler and safer to stay in the main traffic flow – especially as I normally turn right just after the Toucan Crossing.

    I’ll also post pics of a queer little feature which I think is mean to be a part of the cycle route connection….on CTC RTR

  8. I’ve finally got around to measuring the ribbed plastic tiles and find that they are not to the correct specification, in many ways. The ribs should be 5mm high and 30mm wide. Measuring with £2 (28mm dia 2.5mm thick) coins the ribs are neither 30mm wide (20mm) nor 5mm high (higher) and are half-round with a full radius.

    The gap between each ridge is supposed to be 70mm (2 x 1p plus 1 x £2 coins laid touching) the Elderslie Street tiles have a gap just wide enough for a £2 coin – barely 30mm NOT 70mm. The tiles are also lifting up off the tarmac, leaving loose and lifting edges.

    At the Gaelic School cars park in the bike lane, maybe Danny MacAskill can ride down and over the cars sometime.

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